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What's next as Prince Andrew faces Virginia Giuffre's sexual abuse lawsuit?

Judge denies prince's request to toss lawsuit
Judge denies Prince Andrew's request to toss out Virginia Giuffre lawsuit 04:35

London — The nearly 1,000-year-old institution of the British monarchy has never seen anything quite like this. On Wednesday, a New York judge flatly rejected a move by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York's lawyers to have Virginia Giuffre's civil lawsuit claiming sexual abuse thrown out. Queen Elizabeth's second son, said to be her favorite, still has legal options, but all of them could prove very expensive — both financially, and to his reputation.

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports, the motion dismissed on Wednesday, in which Andrew's lawyers had claimed that a 2009 financial settlement between Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein shielded the prince from legal action, may have been his last chance to get the suit dismissed.

"This case is going forward, and it's going forward now," CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said. "The last thing that Prince Andrew wants, and that the royal family wants, is further publicity in this degrading saga."

U.S. judge rejects motion to dismiss lawsuit against Prince Andrew 05:54

Giuffre, who claims the prince sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions when she was a teenager, told CBS News in 2020 that Andrew "should be panicking," and that the royal "needs to be held accountable."

Prince Andrew denies all the accusations and has never been charged with a crime. He claims to have no recollection of meeting Giuffre, despite the two of them being photographed together when Giuffre was a teenager. Epstein's former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted in December of grooming and trafficking minors for sexual abuse, appears in the same photo.

Once regarded as a handsome, playboy prince, Andrew's name is now indelibly stained by his friendships with convicted sex offenders Epstein and Maxwell.

On the streets of Windsor, the town west of London that is dominated by the queen's primary residence, some people told CBS News they were sympathetic to the monarch, but there was little love lost for her son.

"I think everybody feels for the queen a lot in this circumstance," one woman said outside Windsor Castle. "It is her son, and of course she is going to want to protect him, and her family and their privacy, but that doesn't mean you get a 'get out of jail free card' either, so it's a balance."

Andrew's options

It is possible that Andrew will decide to fight the case in court, but given the negative light that process would shine on his family — in the year of his mother's Platinum Jubilee, marking the Queen's 70th year on the British throne — most analysts see it as highly unlikely.

As a U.K. resident, Prince Andrew could also simply refuse to cooperate with a trial if it does go ahead, but that tactic could be disastrous.

Klieman said that if Andrew refuses to give evidence, Giuffre's lawyers "would move for a default judgment against him," which could see him ordered to pay any sum of money the judge sees fit - "$500,000, a million, $10 million, whatever it would happen to be."

The prince's best option, Klieman said, was to try to reach a settlement with Giuffre out of court, to stop the case going to trial. But Giuffre would have to agree to that option, and so far, her legal team has indicated no inclination to do so.

Jeffrey Epstein was "a sick pedophile" but Ghislaine Maxwell "was the mastermind," accuser claims 05:45

"I think Virginia Giuffre is determined to have her day in court," Klieman told Williams, adding that, "for most people, there's an offer that cannot be refused, unless the money means absolutely nothing to you. And perhaps for Virginia Giuffre, perhaps the money is irrelevant."

Giuffre's lawyer said on Wednesday night that he believed she was not interested in a purely financial settlement, suggesting that she may only agree to settle the suit out of court if any payment comes with an acknowledgement by Prince Andrew that he's done something wrong.

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