US judge sets back Prince Andrew's bid to avoid accuser's lawsuit

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Britain's Prince Andrew speaks to the media during Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Windsor Great Park, Britain. [Reuters]

A woman who accused Britain's Prince Andrew of hiding from her sexual assault lawsuit can try an alternative means of serving her legal papers so that Queen Elizabeth's second son can address her claims, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday night.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said Virginia Giuffre's plan to deliver her lawsuit to Andrew's Los Angeles-based lawyer was "reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant's attention," regardless of whether the prince "authorized" the lawyer to accept it.

The lawyer, Andrew Brettler, had no immediate comment.

"We are grateful that the Court has granted alternative service on Prince Andrew. This moves the case forward", Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Giuffre, said in an emailed statement.

The U.S. judge's decision came as London's High Court said that Andrew's legal team had indicated they would challenge its ruling that it would take steps if necessary to have papers served on the British royal.

Andrew, the 61-year-old Duke of York, was sued by Giuffre last month, accusing him of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress over alleged misconduct from about two decades ago.

Giuffre, 38, was underage at the time of Andrew's alleged abuse, which she said occurred around the time his friend, the financier Jeffrey Epstein, was sexually abusing her.

The civil lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Andrew has denied Giuffre's accusations, and Brettler at a Monday court hearing called Giuffre's case a "baseless, nonviable, potentially unlawful lawsuit." read more

The prince stepped down from royal duties as details emerged over the last two years about his relationship with Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Kaplan ruled barely six hours after Giuffre formally requested his intervention, saying "service is not intended to be a game of hide and seek behind palace walls."

The judge issued his order one day after London's High Court said it would arrange for Andrew to be served if the parties failed to work out their own arrangement. read more

The British court also said there had been developments overnight in the case.

"Lawyers for Prince Andrew have indicated that they may seek to challenge the decision of the High Court to recognise the validity of the Hague Convention request for service made by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers," a spokesman said.

"The High Court has directed that any challenge must be made by close of business on 24 September."

There was no comment from Andrew's legal team.

Lawyers for Giuffre have argued they already properly served Andrew in England, when a copy of the lawsuit was left with a police officer guarding the prince's home in Windsor.

In her lawsuit, Giuffre accused Andrew of forcing her to have sexual intercourse at the London home of Epstein's longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell.

Giuffre also said Andrew abused her at Epstein's mansion in Manhattan and on Epstein's private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Maxwell faces a Nov. 29 trial on charges she helped recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. She has pleaded not guilty. Andrew has not been charged with crimes.

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