Prince Andrew may face trial in the U.S.
The son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II could face justice in the United States after a Southern District Court in New York on Wednesday failed to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed against him. Virginia Jufre, an American, accuses the Duke of York of having sex with her several times against her will when she was 17 years old. There is, however, no criminal case against the prince.
Judge Lewis Kaplan disagreed with the arguments of the prince’s lawyers, who insisted that in 2009, by entering into an out-of-court agreement with American businessman Jeffrey Epstein, Jufre pledged not to prosecute both Epstein himself and his acquaintances, including Prince Andrew. His representatives also failed to obtain a declaration of lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that Jufre resides permanently in Australia and not in the United States. So the trial on the merits could begin as early as September of this year.
As observers of the TV channel Sky News show, there are four main scenarios for further developments, each of which will be painful for the 61-year-old prince, who has consistently insisted on his innocence. Experts believe an out-of-court settlement, which ends 95% of civil lawsuits filed in the U.S., is the most likely, but in the eyes of the public it will resemble an admission of guilt. The prince can completely refuse to participate in the trial, after which the judge will render a verdict without a hearing, or exercise the right not to testify against himself, but it would also be a heavy blow to his reputation.
Attempting to insist on his version of events would result in His Highness being questioned under oath by Jufre’s representatives, and potentially appearing in a U.S. court before a jury that would decide the fate of the lawsuit. U.S. law experts told Sky News that the hearing is highly likely to be public, the prince will not be able to refuse to testify in person in court, and the plaintiff’s representatives will have the opportunity to bring other members of the royal family as witnesses. These may include Prince Andrew’s adult daughters, as he has previously claimed that he celebrated the birthday of one of them at a pizzeria on the very night that, according to Jufre, one of the rapes took place.