Yesterday, we reported that Prince Andrew had been hit with a lawsuit by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims that the royal had sex with her at the late billionaire pedophile’s New York City home when she was under the age of 18.
Now, experts are speaking out to warn that Andrew, 61, is facing “disaster” regardless of how he responds to this lawsuit.
Giuffre told The New York Post that she “did not come to this decision lightly,” but insisted that her lawsuit would ultimately prove that she “was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.”
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she said. “The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions.”
Legal experts have pointed out that this is a civil suit, and no criminal charges have been filed, meaning that Andrew be compelled to come to New York to answer it.
“This is not about whether or not Prince Andrew will go to jail — he has no criminal exposure from this particular case,” Melissa Murray, professor of law at New York University, told the BBC.
However, Andrew is still in a difficult situation when it comes to how to respond to the lawsuit. If he settles out of court, he risks “seriously damage” to his already scarred reputation, even it he still denies liability. This would likely make it impossible for him to ever return to royal duties.
Should Andrew ignore the lawsuit, he could be found guilty in absentia, which “would be catastrophic for the Prince because then a court would be officially labeling him a child sex abuser,” according to The Telegraph.
Experts say that Andrew’s only real hope is this case never making it to court, with him getting it switched to the High Court in London and then struck out on grounds of lack of evidence. However, it is unlikely that Giuffre’s lawyers would ever allow that to happen.
This lawsuit comes at a “really unfortunate time” for Andrew, as his former socialite friend Ghislaine Maxwell is about to stand trial in November for her alleged role in the sex-trafficking ring.
“With this civil suit pending and her about to go to trial on these criminal charges, there may be even more pressure — and indeed temptation — for her to co-operate with federal prosecutors,” said NYU Professor Murray, adding that Maxwell would then “perhaps provide more information about all of the individuals who were in the orbit of Jeffrey Epstein and that could, allegedly, include the prince himself.”
Regardless, experts believe things are not looking good for Andrew.
“This case will bring more embarrassment for him and for the royal family — as is anything to do with Andrew and Epstein,” royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told Daily Mail.
Andrew has denied the claims made by Giuffre.
“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew said. “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.