Judge: Trial on sexual assault allegations against Prince Andrew likely late next year

Judge: Trial on sexual assault allegations against Prince Andrew likely late next year
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A judge on Wednesday said the trial involving sexual assault allegations against Prince Andrew will likely begin late next year.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said that the trial will likely take place between September and December of 2022, according to The Associated Press, despite it being difficult to schedule trial dates because of COVID-19 protocols that are still in place at courthouses. Some facilities have reportedly placed a cap on the number of trials that can be underway at one point.

A spokesperson for Prince Andrew declined to comment when reached by The Hill. The Hill reached out to the plaintiff, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, for comment on the judge’s likely timeline.

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Giuffre, a woman who accused convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein of abuse, said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was younger than 18 years old. She sued Prince Andrew in August for allegedly abusing her on a number of occasions in 2011.

She alleged that her interactions with the Duke of York occurred at the same time Epstein was abusing her.

Last week, Prince Andrew’s lawyers requested to have the lawsuit against their client dropped, contending that the legal action was “baseless” and an attempt to “achieve another payday at his  expense and at the expense of those closest to him.”

They also pointed to a 2009 settlement against Epstein, arguing that “Epstein’s former attorney, Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzThere's no such thing as 'absolute immunity' for former presidents BBC faces blowback after Dershowitz appears as Maxwell trial analyst The dangerous trend behind Officer Kim Potter's conviction   MORE, and Prince Andrew are axiomatically among the releasees in that 2009 settlement agreement.”

During the conference on Wednesday, Prince Andrew's attorneys said they plan to call roughly eight to 12 witnesses to testify, according to the AP. David Boies, an attorney for Giuffre, however, said his witness list will depend “a little bit on who we can get and the timing of it,” the AP reported.

He also said his team could be prepared to begin some of the depositions “relatively promptly,” while others they may not recognize “for as much as two months.”

Andrew Brettler, a lawyer for Prince Andrew, cited a new lawsuit filed last week in which an Epstein accuser said Giuffre defamed her by claiming in tweets in October 2020 that she was Epstein’s girlfriend and had played a role in his scheme by recruiting girls for him to abuse, according to the AP.

Brettler pointed to the lawsuit, arguing that there “may be new witnesses in a new matter that may need to be deposed in this matter.” He did not, however, offer additional details on how he would utilize the lawsuit in his case against Giuffre.

Epstein was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking allegations. The New York City Medical Examiner later determined that he died by suicide from hanging.

Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and close confidant of Epstein, is now waiting for her trial to begin in connection to Epstein’s alleged misconduct. She is being accused of helping the convicted sex offender abuse underage girls.