Prince Andrew has vehemently denied sexually abusing Virginia Giuffre or even having any recollection of meeting her through convicted paedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. However, his lawyers are reportedly considering the argument that the British royal had the consent of his accuser when he had sex with her when she was a minor, a plan which legal experts believe would backfire.
New York-based legal experts said that a legal argument by Andrew’s lawyers to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit on the basis of “consent” is “dangerous” and “cruel” and would not be accepted in front of a jury. This comes after the royal recently filed a document to the court demanding a “trial by jury” in the case filed against him in New York five months ago.
In the legal document, which marked his first submission in the case, the Duke of York issued 41 denials and said a further 40 times that he “lacks sufficient information to admit or deny” the respective claims. He also submitted 11 defences calling for the case to be dismissed, including one that said Giuffre’s claims should be barred by “her own wrongful conduct” and “unclean hands.”
Legal experts, who previously said that Andrew’s lawyers are indulging in “victim-blaming” by proposing to question Giuffre’s mental health, have questioned this argument as well. The defense, marked as Affirmative Defence, argues without admitting any guilt on the part of Andrew that any “injury or damages” to Giuffre could be ruled out because of her “consent.”
“Assuming, without admitting, that Giuffre has suffered any injury or damage, Giuffre and/or others, who are not Prince Andrew, contributed in whole or in part to the alleged damage,” read one defence titled “Damages Contributed to by Others.” Another defence named “Consent” read, “Assuming, without admitting, that Giuffre has suffered any injury or damage alleged in the Complaint, Giuffre’s claims are barred by the doctrine of consent.”
Wendy Murphy, a former sex crimes prosecutor and New England Law professor told The Guardian that to say Giuffre was “acting of her own volitions” at the age of 17 and caused herself “to be raped by a man with so much more power is a dangerous thing to do.”
“It’s going to cause enormous negative publicity for the prince, as it should, and if you ask a jury to blame a kid, they’re going to come back at you with a vengeance,” Murphy noted.
Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum Law Center also expressed similar sentiments, suggesting that it is a dangerous argument especially since Andrew has been denying even meeting Giuffre until now. “Now in his answer to the court, he is still denying [ever meeting or having sexual contact with Ms Giuffre], but unbelievably says if the acts occurred, they were consensual,” Baum said.
Giuffre, who has accused Andrew of having sex with her on three occasions when she was a minor and was being trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein, seeks unspecified damages from him thought to be in the millions of pounds.