Prince Andrew's Lawyer Challenges Sexual Assault Lawsuit, Calling for 'Secret' Settlement to Be Unsealed

Virginia Roberts Giuffre says she is "holding Prince Andrew accountable" for alleged unwilling sexual encounters, while the Duke of York's lawyers present fresh legal challenges to her lawsuit

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew. Photo: STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty

The sexual assault lawsuit against Prince Andrew passed a major benchmark today, but the royal is continuing to keep his distance from the proceedings.

Lawyers for both the Duke of York and Virginia Roberts Giuffre convened Monday afternoon for a virtual hearing regarding Giuffre's lawsuit claiming Prince Andrew forced her to have sex with him three times between 1999 and 2002 — accusations Queen Elizabeth's son has consistently refuted.

Just hours before the hearing, PEOPLE obtained a motion that attorney Andrew B. Brettler of Lavely & Singer filed on behalf of the prince, 61, "for the purpose of contesting purported services and challenging jurisdiction."

On Friday, shortly after Boies claimed Andrew had been evading servers, news broke that the Duke of York had been served papers on August 27 at his residence in Windsor.

And though Andrew lawyers' filing was a move to cast doubt on the legal legitimacy of the way in which Andrew received the lawsuit papers, Giuffre's lawyer David Boies told Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York: "I think it is clear that Prince Andrew has actual notice of this complaint and proceeding."

Brettler countered at Monday's hearing: "We believe, however, that this is a baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that the Plaintiff has filed against the Duke."

He added, "There has been a settlement agreement that the Plaintiff has settled into in a prior action that releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability." He further requested the "secret" document be unsealed, though no further action has been taken at this time.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts
Prince Andrew; Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Alexander Koerner/Getty; Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty

In a statement shared with PEOPLE on August 9 when the lawsuit was first filed, Giuffre said in part, "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."

In a 2019 interview addressing the prince's relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and Giuffre's allegations against him, Andrew told the BBC: "I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever. It just never happened."

Following backlash from the interview, Andrew announced that he would be "stepping back" from public duties.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a>, Prince Andrew, <a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>
Samir Hussein/WireImage

As of this past weekend, Andrew was in Scotland with the Queen, 95, at her Balmoral estate. His legal team has repeatedly declined to comment on the case when contacted by PEOPLE.

Moving forward, Judge Kaplan scheduled an in-person hearing in New York City for October 13. The prince could still be compelled to answer questions under oath or to turn over texts, emails and private letters related to the case.

Sigrid McCawley, managing partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, previously told PEOPLE: "The filing of this complaint proves that irrespective of power, privilege or even being a prince, no one is above the law in the United States and all perpetrators of abuse should be held accountable."

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