Prince Andrew and his accuser Virginia Giuffre announced a “settlement in principle” on Tuesday that would put an abrupt end to a lawsuit alleging the embattled royal sexually abused her at the age of 17.
A letter announcing the deal states that the parties “anticipate filing a stipulation of dismissal of the case” in 30 days, attaching a lengthy statement as an exhibit.
“Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew have reached an out of court settlement. The parties will file a stipulated dismissal upon Ms. Giuffre’s receipt of the settlement (the sum of which is not being disclosed),” a statement attached as an exhibit reads. “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.”
“Prince Andrew Regrets”
During the litigation, Andrew’s lawyer Andrew Brettler appeared to signal his readiness to attack Giuffre by painting her as someone who recruited for the scheme.
The prince retreated from those plans in his statement.
“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks,” the statement reads. “It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years. Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others. He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”
Attorney Lisa Bloom, who has represented eight women awarded settlements from a fund designed to compensate Epstein victims, applauded the deal.
“I trust Virginia to make the right decision for herself,” she told Law&Crime. “Litigation is agony for victims. She has accomplished what no one could: getting Prince Andrew to side with sexual abuse victims. I salute her stunning courage.”
Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict NXIVM sex cult founder Keith Raniere, said in an interview that she believed the settlement signaled that the prince saw the strength of the evidence coming out in discovery. Before today’s announcement, court filings indicated that Guiffre’s attorneys sought to depose the prince.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan previously refused to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit against the prince, in a ruling that sent the litigation to the fact-gathering process.
Giuffre, who was born Virginia Roberts, claimed in her lawsuit that the Duke of York sexually assaulted her in three locations: Epstein’s New York mansion and private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the London home of now-convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. The statement in the filing announcing the settlement appears to be silent on those allegations.
“This Is a Surrender”
Describing the statement as “heavily lawyered,” former sex trafficking prosecutor Mitchell Epner believed that the language was still a “major victory” for Giuffre.
“That will allow her for all time forward to say that this settlement was accompanied by an apology by Prince Andrew,” he said, noting that the statement explicitly acknowledges her as a survivor.
Though there is no explicit omission or apology for the actions alleged in Giuffre’s complaint, Epner noted that doing so could have been perilous for Andrew, considering Giuffre had accused him of sexual assault.
The settlement, he noted, may have “deliberate ambiguity” allowing Andrew to deny the allegations leveled against him, but it does not have the typical boilerplate that accompanies such statements.
“There is no statement in there nor anywhere near there that says he neither admits nor denies liability, which is a standard stock phrase that’s used when you have a settlement between equals,” said Epner, who is now of counsel with Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC.
“This is a surrender,” he added.
Legal experts say that an out-of-court settlement between private parties does not require the judge’s approval, but it will require the parties to follow through on their plan to file a joint stipulation to dismiss the case.
Judge Kaplan told the parties that it is “entirely possible” that there could be a trial, if they fail to perform that final step.
Giuffre’s spokesman and Andrew’s lawyer Brettler did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.
Read the filing, below:
[Photos: LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images (left); Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit (right)]
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