Explained: Prince Andrew’s alleged sex abuse civil lawsuit against Virginia Roberts in New York

What accusations have been made?

In a civil lawsuit filed in New York, Virginia Roberts alleged Andrew sexually abused her, despite knowing she was a teenage victim of sex trafficking. 

She said that aged 17, she was ‘lent out for sexual purposes’ to Andrew by Jeffrey Epstein and was forced to have sex with the Duke.

What has he said?

Andrew has yet to respond to the lawsuit but has always denied claims that he had sex with her. 

In the 2019 Newsnight interview he said he could not remember meeting her and categorically denied that they had sex.

He has also claimed a photo of them together could have been doctored.

What happens next?

The lawsuit needs to be formally served on Andrew or his representatives. He then has 21 days to respond.

Will he have to respond?

If he doesn’t, Miss Roberts could ask the court to find in her favour without a trial.

Andrew would be spared the legal process and having to answer questions in a legal deposition, – but would risk having a default civil judgment made against him that he sexually abused a teenager. 

She would also be able to ask for damages which could run into millions.

Can he ask for the case to be thrown out?

The Duke of York can ask the court to dismiss the case as groundless. 

He can also challenge it on a number of legal grounds, including jurisdiction as he is not a US citizen. 

But Miss Roberts’ lawyers say some of the alleged abuse took place at Epstein’s mansion in New York, and that the court in New York has jurisdiction to hear the case.

In the BBC Newsnight interview, Andrew said he could not remember meeting Virginia Roberts and categorically denied that they had sex. He has also claimed a photo of them together could have been doctored

In the BBC Newsnight interview, Andrew said he could not remember meeting Virginia Roberts and categorically denied that they had sex. He has also claimed a photo of them together could have been doctored

In the BBC Newsnight interview, Andrew said he could not remember meeting Virginia Roberts and categorically denied that they had sex. He has also claimed a photo of them together could have been doctored

Are the allegations from too long ago?

Miss Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew more than 20 years ago, which usually means the case could not go forward. 

But she brought her claims under New York’s Child Victims Act, which gave survivors of alleged historic childhood sexual abuse one year to file civil cases.

Will Andrew have to give evidence?

If the case goes ahead, lawyers from both sides will enter a ‘discovery’ process. 

Mrs Roberts’ legal team can ask the judge to order that they be given any documents related to Andrew’s relationship with Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell. 

There would then be depositions and Andrew could be questioned by Miss Roberts’ lawyers. The discovery process can take years.

Could his deposition be used in a criminal prosecution?

Yes. Melanie Murray, a professor of law at New York University, said: ‘Any evidence that surfaces in a civil case can be used to inform future criminal charges.’

Could the Duke settle?

He could make a settlement offer but there is no guarantee it would be accepted.

And Professor Murray said settling ‘would be saying there was some truth in it.’

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