A US judge has rejected an offer from Britain’s Prince Andrew to reject Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was 17 and of being trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In a decision released on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said it was too early to consider the prince’s efforts to question Giuffre’s allegations that he abused her and intentionally caused her emotional suffering, even if he were to do so at . a trial.
Kaplan said it was also too early to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein intended to release people like Andrew from a 2009 settlement of Giuffre’s trial of the late financier.
Lawyers for Andrew and Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The decision paves the way for Giuffre’s case against Andrew to stay on track for a trial that Kaplan has said can begin late this year.
Although the prince is not accused of crime, his ties to Epstein have damaged his reputation and cost him many royal duties.
Andrew has denied Giuffre’s allegations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago in London’s home to former Epstein co-worker Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her at two other Epstein properties.
Kaplan said the “confused” language in Giuffre’s and Epstein’s 2009 settlement suggests they may have come to “something of a middle ground” as to whether Andrew or others in similar positions would be protected from future trials.
“We do not know what, if anything, went through the minds of the parties,” Kaplan wrote. “The parties have articulated at least two reasonable interpretations of the critical language. The agreement is therefore ambiguous.”
Settlement agreements can prevent plaintiffs like Giuffre from pursuing further litigation, even against third parties.