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U.S. Judge Rejects Prince Andrew's Bid to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

INTERNATIONAL:  U.S. judge has rejected a bid by Britain’s Prince Andrew to dismiss Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was 17 and being trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge in Manhattan, Lewis Kaplan, has said it was premature to consider the Prince's efforts to cast doubt on Giuffre's accusations, though he would be allowed to do so at a trial.

Kaplan has also mentioned it was too soon to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein intended to release people like Andrew in their 2009 settlement agreement. Such settlements can restrict plaintiffs from pursuing further litigation, even against third parties.

Lawyers for Andrew and Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Andrew has denied Giuffre's accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at the London home of former Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and also denied abusing her at two other Epstein properties.

As a young man, Prince Andrew was one of the most popular royals, acclaimed by the British press for his active service as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War, and earning the nickname "Randy Andy" for his courting of glamorous girlfriends.

Prince Andrew's 1986 marriage to flame-haired Sarah Ferguson, which was hailed as a breath of fresh air to the monarchy, ended in divorce a decade later, but she still remains one of his strongest supporters.

Prince Andrew stepped down from public duties on 20 November 2019, saying the controversy surrounding his ill-judged association with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein had caused major disruptions to the royal family's work. The rare interview aired on 15 November was an attempt to draw a line under a scandal after months of headlines about Andrew's ties to Epstein, who killed himself in August 2019 while being held on federal sex-trafficking charges.

Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, denies the allegation of having sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by Epstein. One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has said she was forced to have sex with Andrew in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island between 1999 and 2002. The Prince categorically denies all of the allegations. The scandal escalated following Andrew's rambling explanations in an interview with the BBC, which many viewers felt was incredulous, and his apparent lack of compassion for Epstein's victims which has drawn widespread condemnation.

Royal commentators say Andrew has always been fiercely protective of his royal status, insisting that his daughters Eugenie and Beatrice were princesses, a contrast to the children of his elder sister, Anne, who have no title.

When asked about the Epstein case and the accusations involving Prince Andrew, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said "nobody is above the law and anybody who has committed something should be open to questioning and investigation about it."

Asked to comment on Prince Andrew's retirement from public life following the allegations against him, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he believes the victims should have justice and that "the law must be done and must be seen to be done."

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