Virginia Giuffre 'pleased' lawsuit against Prince Andrew to go ahead

Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her, has spoken out about the decision to allow her lawsuit to go ahead. 

Giuffre posted on Twitter she was "pleased" with the ruling, saying  “I’m glad I will have the chance to continue to expose the truth & I am deeply grateful to my extraordinary legal team.

“Their determination helps me seek justice from those who hurt me and so many others. My goal has always been to show that the rich and powerful are not above the law & must be held accountable.

“I do not walk this path alone, but alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking.”

Lawyers for Prince Andrew failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager.

In a decision made public on Wednesday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre could pursue claims that Prince Andrew battered her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while the late financier Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her.

The Manhattan judge said it was premature to assess Andrew's efforts to "cast doubt" on those claims, though the 61-year-old prince could do so at a trial.

Kaplan said it was also too soon to decide whether Giuffre's 2009 civil settlement with Epstein "clearly and unambiguously" shielded Andrew from being sued by Giuffre.

The judge did not address the merits of Giuffre's claims.

Giuffre also tweeted

"My soul yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that. I will remember this day always. Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed.  

"I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be."

Kaplan's decision keeps Giuffre's case against Prince Andrew on track for a trial Kaplan has said could begin between September and December 2022 if no settlement is reached.

While the claims have not been proven and the Prince is not accused of criminal wrongdoing, his ties to Epstein have damaged his reputation and cost him many royal duties.

Prince Andrew's military affiliations and royal patronages were returned to the Queen, Buckingham Palace announced on Friday in an extraordinary statement just a day after the ruling.

"The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen," the statement says.

It's also being reported he will no longer use the style of "His Royal Highness".

Later that day Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed Prince Andrew was stripped of his New Zealand military patronage. 

"Buckingham Palace has recently announced that, with the Queen's approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen," a statement from Jacinda Ardern's office says.

"In New Zealand, the Duke of York was formerly the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (The Duke of York's Own). As a result of patronages returning to the Queen, his appointment has now ended.

"Any further changes to Royal patronages and appointments would be a matter for the Prime Minister to raise with the Queen of New Zealand in due course."

Prince Andrew's troubles grew after critics said he failed in a 2019 BBC interview to appear sympathetic toward Epstein's abuse victims.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Kaplan’s decision.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted on December 29 of recruiting and grooming girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

She is seeking a new trial after one juror told media, including Reuters, that during jury deliberations he had discussed being a victim of sexual abuse.