The judge in the Duke of York’s civil sex lawsuit has said the trial will be heard late next year but the pandemic has prevented setting an exact date.
Virginia Giuffre, who is suing Andrew for alleged sexual assault, will give evidence between September and December 2022, after US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan said a trial date would be likely to fall during this time frame.
There are difficulties in scheduling a date for the trial because of courthouse coronavirus protocols that limit how many trials can occur at once.
Last week, lawyers for Andrew asked Judge Kaplan to throw out the lawsuit brought by Ms Giuffre, with the royal saying he “unequivocally denies” sexually abusing or assaulting her.
Ms Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the duke’s former friend, to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
The allegations, which Andrew has repeatedly denied, were labelled “false” in a document filed to a district court last Friday which added the duke’s “sullied reputation is only the latest collateral damage of the Epstein scandal”.
During Wednesday a legal conference was conducted electronically between Judge Kaplan and two lawyers, David Boies for Ms Giuffre and Andrew Brettler for the duke, which lasted less than 10 minutes.
Both lawyers said they expected to depose eight to 12 individuals, though Mr Boies said the exact number depends “a little bit on who we can get and the timing of it”.
Mr Boies said the individuals would include “the parties” – meaning Ms Giuffre and Andrew – and a “number of potential witnesses”.
“We would be prepared to start some of the depositions relatively promptly, but some we may not identify for as much as two months,” the lawyer said.
Although Andrew is represented by a lawyer it is not clear if he will personally engage with the US legal process and give a statement or even appear in person.
Mr Brettler said some of the people he may want to depose are related to a new lawsuit filed last week in which a woman, who alleges she was sexually abused by Epstein, alleged Ms Giuffre defamed her by claiming in a series of October 2020 tweets that she was Epstein’s girlfriend and had recruited girls for him to abuse.
Andrew’s lawyer cited the lawsuit and said there “may be new witnesses in a new matter that may need to be deposed in this matter”. He did not elaborate on how the claims in that lawsuit would be used in arguments against Ms Giuffre.
Epstein was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. The death was ruled a suicide.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, goes on trial this month on sex trafficking charges alleging she recruited teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004.