New York: The Duke of York has warned that “memories fade and false memories are created” as he described his accuser’s sexual abuse complaint as “unintelligible” and deliberately vague.
In legal documents lodged with a New York court, Prince Andrew’s lawyers argue that as Virginia Roberts Giuffre was 17 – the age of consent in New York – at the time of the alleged offences, she must prove that she was forced to have sex with him.
Her attempts to implicate him by “implied threat” 20 years on could simply not be verified, they suggest.
The court papers also reiterate that the “plain language” of a 2009 financial agreement Giuffre made with Jeffrey Epstein prevents her from suing the 61-year-old Duke.
It came as Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team prepared to call a false memory expert when the British socialite’s defence case gets under way in her sex-trafficking trial in New York tomorrow.
Elizabeth Loftus, an influential American psychologist who gave evidence in OJ Simpson’s defence, will testify that false memory syndrome can be triggered by “suggestive activities”, such as media coverage.
Prince Andrew denies having had sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was 17. Giuffre says she was forced by Jeffrey Epstein to sleep with the duke.Credit:AP, BBC
Her research has been used to discredit abuse survivors’ testimony in court, and has also led to stricter requirements for the use of recovered memories in trials.
The Duke’s latest 11-page legal memorandum describes Giuffre’s civil claim against him as “ambiguous at best and unintelligible at worst”.
Giuffre has sued Prince Andrew for unspecified damages, alleging that he sexually abused her on three separate occasions in 2001 when she was 17.
Last month, she condemned Prince Andrew for launching a “baseless, defamatory” attack on her credibility, character and motives after he accused her of seeking “another payday” at his expense.
Lawyers for the Duke responded in a memorandum filed on Tuesday: “These highly subjective determinations are the kind most likely to be hampered by the passage of time, as memories fade, false memories are created, and witnesses die or otherwise become unavailable.
“Here, the only witnesses to the purported implied threats under which Giuffre allegedly engaged in unconsented sex acts with Prince Andrew are Epstein (deceased), Maxwell (incarcerated), Prince Andrew (the accused) and Giuffre herself.”
In a bid to get the case thrown out, the Prince Andrew’s lawyers in October launched a furious rebuttal of Giuffre’s “threadbare” complaint, claiming she had profited from her association with Epstein, the late, convicted sex offender, for years and was willing to “milk the publicity” for all she could with “increasingly salacious and inconsistent accounts”.
The 2009 settlement, which is sealed, is said to include a clause that bars her from taking further legal action against some of Epstein’s associates.
Prince Andrew’s latest filing adds: “Giuffre does not challenge the authenticity of the release agreement.
“Prince Andrew does not ask the court to analyse the parties’ intent when entering into the release agreement… he requests that the court recognise that the release agreement exists and that, on its face, it bars Giuffre’s claims against him.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear arguments on the motion to dismiss the case at a hearing scheduled for January 4.
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