October 1, 2021
The news comes several days after a royal insider revealed that the Duke of York’s legal team has adopted a new strategy against Virginia Giuffre, an American woman, who claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on at least three occasions, including when she was an underage girl. The Duke of York has rejected the accusations.
Prince Andrew has turned to a US law firm that represents Hollywood’s crème de la crème to fight sexual abuse allegations against him made by Virginia Giuffre, the Daily Mail has reported, citing court documents it obtained. According to the outlet, the 61-year-old hired Melissa Lerner, from the litigation firm Lavely & Singer, which has been described as the company that makes celebrities’ problems disappear.
Per the description posted on its website Lavely & Singer “represents a vast array of clients including a lion’s share of Hollywood’s most famous, celebrated and prestigious actors, producers, directors, writers, recording artists and other individuals and entities”.
According to the Daily Mail, over the years, the firm has worked with such stars as Scarlett Johansson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Travolta, and Charlie Sheen. Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University graduate Melissa Lerner will join another employee from Lavely & Singer, Andrew Brettler, who was previously hired by the Duke of York. Brettler earlier defended actor Armie Hammer, who was accused of sexual abuse and cannibalistic fetishism.
Accusations and Latest Developments
For years, Virginia Giuffre has claimed that she was trafficked by US financier Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell to London, where she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was a 17-year-old girl. The woman claims she met the Duke of York at a nightclub before heading to a mansion owned by Maxwell, where the sexual intercourse occurred. Giuffre alleges that the royal also slept with her at least two more times without her consent.
The Duke of York has categorially rejected the accusations. He claims he has never met the woman and that he has an alibi on the day the alleged sexual intercourse with Giuffre occurred in London (he took his daughter to a pizza restaurant).
However, the veracity of the royal’s remarks have been questioned as there is at least one photo showing the prince standing next to a young Giuffre and Maxwell, with Andrew’s hand on the girl’s waist. A resident of London, Shukri Walker, claims to have witnessed the Duke of York dancing with Virginia Giuffre at the nightclub. According to The Mirror, Walker will testify against Prince Andrew in a US court.
Mrs Giuffre’s legal team has recently revealed that Jeffrey Epstein’s estate agreed to disclose the details of a 2009 court settlement between her and the latter. In 2009, she filed a lawsuit against Epstein, but it was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers previously mentioned this court settlement and wanted to unseal it to use in the court battle against Giuffre. Andrew Brettler has argued that it protects the royal “from any and all liability” as it apparently made Epstein and his co-conspirators immune from further lawsuits.
Yet, Virginia Giuffre’s legal team has argued that the settlement is “irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew”. The team later shared the details of the settlement with Prince Andrew’s lawyers.
Giuffre filed a civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew on 9 August in the US. The royal’s legal team has to file a response by 29 October.
Prince Andrew’s court case is taking place against the backdrop of an investigation into the alleged accomplices of Jeffrey Epstein, a US financier, who has been accused by dozens of women, including Giuffre, of sexual abuse and rape. Epstein was charged in July 2019 with running a sex trafficking network of minors. He was found hanging in his jail cell in August 2019, while awaiting trial. His former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI last summer. Her trial is scheduled for November.