Prince Andrew Faces Trial After Judge Refuses to Dismiss Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Him
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York refused to grant the royal's motion to dismiss on Wednesday, meaning Queen Elizabeth's son could face a trial date between September and December 2022, according to CNN.
"Ms. Giuffre's complaint is neither 'unintelligible' nor 'vague' nor 'ambiguous,'" Judge Kaplan wrote in the opinion obtained by PEOPLE. "It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse."
A palace spokesman tells PEOPLE, "We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter."
Prince Andrew's attorneys argued last week to dismiss Virginia Roberts Giuffre's civil sexual assault lawsuit after it was revealed that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein reached a $500,000 settlement with Giuffre, in which she agreed not to sue any other "potential defendant."
In the 2009 document, which does not name Prince Andrew, Giuffre agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge" Epstein and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant."
Lawyers for Prince Andrew, 61, said the deal means she cannot sue him, but Giuffre's attorneys retorted that the terms of the Florida settlement are irrelevant to her case against the royal.
In the ongoing lawsuit, Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein. Andrew has denied any wrongdoing.
In a previous statement shared with PEOPLE, Giuffre said, "I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one's life by speaking out and demanding justice."
Two months after Epstein's death, Andrew participated in a BBC interview intended to clarify his relationship with the disgraced financier and also address Giuffre's allegations.
When BBC Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis raised the issue of a photograph showing the royal with his arm around Giuffre's waist — thought to have been taken inside the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell on March 10, 2001, when Giuffre was 17 years old — the royal claimed he had no recollection of the encounter.
"I don't remember that photograph ever being taken," he said. "I don't remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs and I am not entirely convinced that…I mean that is…that is what I would describe as me in that…in that picture but I can't…we can't be certain as to whether or not that's my hand on her whatever it is, left… left side."
Following the interview's backlash, Prince Andrew announced that he would be "stepping back" from public duties.
After Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and heiress who dated Epstein, was found guilty of helping her former boyfriend groom underage girls for sexual abuse, Giuffre said the Dec. 29 verdict gave her the justice that her "soul yearned for."
"I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone," she said. "Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be."