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Prince Andrew’s offer to dismiss sexual abuse accuser case dismissed by US judge

A US judge rejected an offer by Britain’s Prince Andrew to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s trial accusing the Duke of York of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and being trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

In a ruling released Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said it was premature to consider the prince’s efforts to question Giuffre’s claims that he had beaten her and intentionally caused her emotional distress, although he would be allowed to do so at trial.

Kaplan said it was also too early to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein intended to free people like Andrew from a 2009 settlement of Giuffre’s lawsuit against the late financier.

Lawyers for Andrew and Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The trial could start at the end of this year

The ruling paves the way for the Giuffre v Andrew case to stay on track for a lawsuit that Kaplan says could begin at the end of this year.

While the prince is not charged with any criminal acts, his ties to Epstein have damaged his reputation and cost him many royal duties.

Andrew has denied Giuffre’s accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at the London home of Epstein’s former partner Ghislaine Maxwell and abused her at two other properties of Epstein.

Kaplan said the “confusing” language in Giuffre and Epstein’s 2009 settlement suggests they may have arrived at “something of common ground” on whether Andrew or others in similar positions would be immune from future trials.

“We don’t know what, if anything, went through the minds of the parties,” Kaplan wrote. “The parties have articulated at least two reasonable interpretations of critical language. The agreement is therefore ambiguous.”

Settlement agreements can prevent plaintiffs like Giuffre from pursuing further litigation, even against third parties.