Sex assault settlement triggers more questions for Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew with his mother the Queen. There are reports she will pay some of his multimillion-dollar sex abuse settlement.

Prince Andrew with his mother the Queen. There are reports she will pay some of his multimillion-dollar sex abuse settlement. Photo: Getty

Questions are beginning to emerge in Britain about how Prince Andrew will pay the settlement he has reached with sex abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre – reported to be as high as $23 million.

The settlement was revealed on Wednesday morning (Australian time), just weeks after the Duke of York had vowed to fight Ms Giuffre’s allegations at a public trial.

The settlement was revealed in a filing in Manhattan federal court, where Ms Giuffre, 38, had sued Andrew, the Queen’s second son, last August. The 61-year-old admitted no wrongdoing.

The amount he will pay Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, includes  a “substantial donation” to her charity in support of victims’ rights but is never likely to be made public.

However, there were widespread reports in the British media on Wednesday that it could be as high as £10 million-£12 million ($19 million-$23 million).

Loyola Marymount University law professor Laurie Levenson said it was likely a seven-figure sum.

“How many millions? We don’t know. They’re also framing it as some of the money goes to her, some of it goes to charity. But I would be surprised if it wasn’t in the millions,” she told the ABC.

That has prompted questions about where Andrew, who is not particularly wealthy in his own right, might find the cash.

The BBC reports that the prince’s income comprises a Royal Navy pension and a stipend from the Queen’s Duchy of Lancaster income.

Last month, there were widespread reports that Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, had finally settled a long-running dispute over the sale of their $9.3 million ski chalet in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier. There was speculation some of that money might help pay a settlement with Ms Giuffre.

“It is likely there will be some demands to know where the payment is coming from – public or private purse?” Kate Macnab, a lawyer from Oxfordshire law firm Reeds Solicitors, told the BBC on Wednesday.

Graham Smith from the anti-monarchy group Republic said British taxpayers deserved to know the source of the money for the settlement.

London’s Telegraph newspaper was reporting on Wednesday that the Queen would help to fund the payment – Andrew has long been said to be her favourite son. But the newspaper said the money would come from the monarch’s private earnings, and not taxpayer funds.

However, royal watcher Victoria Arbiter said the details were likely never to become clear.

“We will never know exactly because it is not something that the palace will ever comment on,” she said.

“But Prince Andrew is not as wealthy a man as one might imagine. He is not able to go out and earn a living and capitalise on commercial endorsements, being a member of the royal family.”

Ms Giuffre’s case had focused on Andrew’s friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and sex offender who she said also sexually abused her. This week’s filing said Andrew regretted his past association with Epstein.

“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 filing said.

Andrew has denied accusations that he forced Ms Giuffre to have sex at age 17 more than two decades ago at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

A trial had been expected to begin late this year. Andrew would have had to give testimony under oath.

“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years,” the filing said.

“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others. He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”

The statement represented a marked departure from a 2019 BBC interview in which Andrew failed to show sympathy toward Epstein’s victims and refused to apologise for his friendship with the financier.

The royal family in January removed Andrew’s military titles and royal patronages and said he would no longer be known as “His Royal Highness”.

Andrew was defending Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit as a private citizen. For now, his legal exposure in the US to similar claims appears to be over.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment. A lawyer for the duke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

David Boies, a lawyer for Ms Giuffre, said: “This event speaks for itself.”

Andrew faces no criminal charges, and none will result from Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit because it was a civil case.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit last month.

Andrew’s lawyers had contended it was “baseless” and that she was seeking “another payday”, after also receiving “millions of dollars” in a 2017 settlement of her civil defamation lawsuit against Epstein’s former lover Ghislaine Maxwell.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. She is seeking a new trial.

-with AAP

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