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Prince Andrew’s lawyer asks to keep 2009 legal agreement sealed

Prince Andrew’s lawyer has asked a New York judge to keep sealed a 2009 legal agreement that he says can protect the prince against a lawsuit’s claims that he sexually assaulted an American woman when she was under 18.

The request was made in court papers in Manhattan federal court, where the US district judge Lewis A Kaplan is presiding over an August lawsuit filed on behalf of Virginia Giuffre. The lawsuit said the prince abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

Attorney Andrew Brettler, representing Andrew, said he is preparing written arguments to ask that the lawsuit be dismissed and wants to include under seal an agreement which he contends bars the lawsuit against Andrew. Brettler has called the lawsuit “baseless”.

He also requested to redact any portions of his arguments that reveal information in the agreement.

Brettler said neither the prince nor Giuffre contend that the release agreement must remain sealed, but they wanted to ask that it stay secret because it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over a federal civil action in New York.

The agreement was reached between Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead at age 66 in his cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial at a New York federal jail. His death was ruled a suicide.

Brettler said the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.

A pretrial hearing pertaining to the lawsuit is scheduled for next week.

In late 2019, Andrew told the BBC that he never had sex with Giuffre, saying, “It didn’t happen.”

Earlier this month, British police announced that they won’t take any action against the prince after conducting a review prompted by Giuffre’s claims. They also said no action would result from allegations that Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, trafficked, groomed and abused women and girls in the UK.

Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, goes to trial in November in New York on sex trafficking charges. She has pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has done.