Prince Andrew sex abuse hearing starts in New York

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied claims he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, and said he has no recollection of meeting her

A key court hearing in which Prince Andrew’s lawyers will urge a New York judge to dismiss a sexual assault lawsuit brought against the British royal got under way Tuesday.

Oral arguments in the civil action filed by Virginia Giuffre, a longtime accuser of Jeffrey Epstein and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, began shortly after 10:00 am (1500 GMT).

Giuffre’s legal team will tell judge Lewis Kaplan that the agreement is irrelevant to her case against Queen Elizabeth II’s second son and that the case must proceed.

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Giuffre alleges that Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including Andrew, an allegation the prince has repeatedly and strenuously denied.

The settlement contained a provision that purports to protect “other potential defendants” from being sued related to alleged sexual abuse committed by Epstein, who killed himself in jail two and a half years ago.

The 61-year-old Andrew has not been criminally charged.

She alleges he also sexually abused her at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was last week found guilty of sex trafficking minors for Epstein.

Maxwell, who introduced Andrew to Epstein in the early 1990s, faces life behind bars after being convicted by New York jurors of five of the six counts she faced following a high-profile month-long trial.

He was convicted in 2008 of paying young girls for sexual massages at his Florida mansion but served just 13 months in jail after striking a deal with the state prosecutor at the time.

In a disastrous interview with the BBC that year, Andrew denied Giuffre’s claim that they had shared a sweaty dance at a London nightclub, saying that at the time he could not sweat due to a condition related to having fought in the 1982 Falklands War.

Andrew’s legal team has accused Giuffre of seeking to profit from a “baseless lawsuit,” which is still in its early days.

On Friday, Kaplan rejected their attempts to halt progression of the suit on the grounds that Giuffre now lives in Australia.

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