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Prince Andrew to settle sex abuse case, donate to charity

Virginia Roberts Giuffre holds a news conference outside a Manhattan court following the jailhouse death of Jeffrey Epstein in August 2019, in New York. A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit accusing Prince Andrew of sexually abusing a 17-year-old American, according to a court filing today. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Britain’s Prince Andrew has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who said she was sexually trafficked to the British royal by the financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17.

The deal described in a court filing today in New York avoids a trial that would have brought further embarrassment to the monarchy. It calls for the prince to make a substantial donation to his accuser’s charity while saying he never meant to malign her character. It did not specify whether Giuffre would personally receive any money as part of the settlement.

Attorney David Boies, representing Giuffre, informed the judge presiding over the case in New York that a settlement in principle has been reached and lawyers on both sides will request a dismissal of the lawsuit within a month.

A lawyer for Andrew did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The letter signed by Boies said all lawyers were asking the judge to suspend all deadlines in the case and put it on hold.

Giuffre sued Andrew in August. The American accused the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with Epstein.

Andrew has strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations and attempted to get the lawsuit tossed earlier this year.

Attached to the letter by Boies was a statement that read: “Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew have reached an out of court settlement. The parties will file a stipulated dismissal upon Ms. Giuffre’s receipt of the settlement (the sum of which is not being disclosed).”

“Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”

According to the statement, Prince Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said the prince “regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”

He also pledged to support the victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.

The tentative settlement comes weeks after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan last month rejected the prince’s attempt to win an early dismissal of the lawsuit, meaning depositions and other evidence gathering could commence.

After Kaplan ruled, Andrew — who had already stepped back from royal duties — was stripped of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages. He also can no longer use the title “his royal highness” in official settings.

The decision was an effort to insulate the House of Windsor from the fallout from potentially years of sordid headlines if the suit moved forward.

It came after more than 150 veterans and serving members of the armed forces asked the queen to strip her second son of his military titles, saying he had failed to live up to the “very highest standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct” that are expected of British officers.

Mark Stephens, an international lawyer, said pressure from the royal family would have pushed Andrew to settle, particularly as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Platinum Jubilee — or 70 years on the throne. The carefully worded settlement — in which Andrew admits only an unfortunate association with Epstein — allows him to save face, Stephens said.

“Essentially, what he’s done is throw himself on this judicial grenade to prevent wider damage to the royal family,” Stephens told The Associated Press. “And I think he had no alternative but to settle because otherwise this case would have really overshadowed the Queen’s Jubilee, and we would have been hearing details of what he was alleged to have done with Virginia Giuffre. And all of that would have really caused problems for the royal family more broadly.”

Stephens estimated that Andrew paid around $10 million to settle, having gotten the cash after selling a ski chalet at a “fire sale” price. He speculated that the cash would be split into three unequal portions — with Guiffre, her lawyers and charities taking a piece.

Besides the settlement, Guiffre gets to champion her support of abuse victims, and avoid having to relive “this whole experience in the public circus of a courtroom,” he said.

“She’s been vindicated in the sense that Prince Andrew acknowledges that she’s a victim of sexual abuse,” Stephens said.

Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002, when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew. Her lawsuit said she still suffers significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.

Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her.

Andrew served in the Royal Navy for two decades, including as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. The honorary military roles he lost included several overseas ones, such as his title as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.

He has spent years combatting concerns about his links with Epstein, the U.S. financier who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges last month.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has.

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