Prince Andrew settles sex abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre

Andrew voices regret for associating with Jeffrey Epstein in a court filing, announcing settlement for an undisclosed amount.

Britain's Prince Andrew
Britain's royal family has stripped Prince Andrew of his military roles and royal patronages [File: John Thys/AFP]

Britain’s Prince Andrew and his accuser Virginia Giuffre have settled a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused her when she was a teenager at a time when she was being sexually trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a court filing has said.

Giuffre’s lawyers, writing on behalf of both parties, asked a US federal court in New York on Tuesday to suspend proceedings in the case until it is formally dismissed. They said the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

In the statement to the court, the British royal expresses regret for associating with Epstein but does not confirm Giuffre’s accusations.

“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,” the statement said.

“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years. Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”

It added that the prince will make a “substantial donation” to Giuffre’s charity to support victims’ rights.

The case was a civil lawsuit; Andrew was never criminally charged over the accusations.

Last month, Britain’s royal family stripped Andrew – Queen Elizabeth’s second son – of his military roles and royal patronages, including the title “his royal highness”, saying that he is defending the case by Giuffre as a private citizen.

The prince has denied Giuffre’s accusations that he forced her to have sex more than 20 years ago at a London home of Epstein’s former partner and associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her at two Epstein properties.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Tuesday’s settlement, the Reuters news agency reported.

Andrew, 61, has been heavily criticised for his ties with Epstein, who died by suicide while in US custody in a New York jail in 2019 while he was facing sex trafficking charges.

That year, the British royal appeared to defend his relationship with the disgraced financier, stressing that they were not close.

“The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful,” Andrew told the BBC of Epstein at the time in a widely criticised interview.

Tuesday’s settlement comes less than three months after a US jury found Maxwell guilty of sex abuse and trafficking charges.

Charlie Angela, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in London, said the settlement came “completely out of the blue” with the case previously appearing set for trial later this year.

“The question now will be whether or not he can return to any form of public life, whether he would be allowed to by the royal family, whether he can rebuild or would want to rebuild any kind of reputation here in the UK,” Angela said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies