Lawyers take aim at ‘the dodging duke’
Andrew ‘can duck and run, but accuser WILL have her day in court’
PRINCE Andrew can ‘dodge, duck, run and hide’, but his sex assault accuser will have her day in court, US legal experts warned yesterday.
A civil case against the Duke of York had its first hearing in a New York court on Monday, where Andrew’s legal team argued that Virginia Roberts’ claims were ‘baseless... and potentially unlawful’.
But lawyers representing victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire paedophile and former friend of the duke, questioned Andrew’s legal strategy, in which his lawyer also tried to argue that court papers accusing him of rape and sexual assault had not been properly served.
Lisa Bloom, a US lawyer who is representing several Epstein victims, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Prince Andrew is trying to dodge and hide and duck service, which is not a good look for him. Eventually the judge is going to say that he’s been served, either on this occasion or in the future because wealthy people typically have guard gates and walls and they can get on their plane and go away and they can try to evade service and they often do, but it doesn’t work for ever.
‘I sue people like this all the time – high-profile people in sexual abuse cases – and eventually judges grow tired of it and they find an alternate way of service so the case can get going.’
She added: ‘Everybody dodges and ducks and runs and hides and says the case is invalid and it’s unfair and they’re innocent, and that’s not enough.
‘We have a court system, and no one is above the law.’
On Monday, Judge Lewis Kaplan, sitting in the US District Court in Manhattan, said the duke’s legal team was ‘making this a lot more complicated than it really is’.
Giving some of their arguments short shrift, he allowed lawyers for Mrs Roberts – now Virginia Giuffre – another week to serve the papers on Andrew and his legal team directly, making clear he wanted to move ahead with the case quickly.
Mrs Giuffre says she was groomed by Epstein, who told her to have sex with Andrew 20 years ago, when she was 17. The 38-year-old last month filed a bombshell lawsuit for damages claiming rape, sexual assault and battery. The duke has always denied her allegations.
Andrew Brettler, a heavy-hitting Hollywood lawyer acting for the duke, told the court that Andrew’s legal team also intended to argue that Mrs Giuffre’s claim should be thrown out of court on a technicality.
They claim she waived her right to pursue legal action against any alleged Epstein ‘coconspirators’ when she accepted a substantial payout from the financier in 2009. The case is due back in court on October 13.