- Prince Andrew is being sued by a US woman accusing him of sexual abuse, and one legal expert said he likely won’t respond.
- As a British citizen living in the United Kingdom, the prince has no obligation to respond.
- But the Duke of York’s US assets and ability to travel freely could be at risk, the legal expert said.
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Prince Andrew faces a new lawsuit in the United States accusing him of sexually abusing a teenage girl, but it’s unclear whether he’ll ever respond to it.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged in the federal lawsuit that the Duke of York abused her in the early 2000s at Jeffrey Epstein’s New York City mansion, when she was 17.
Prince Andrew, who has repeatedly denied the claim, has also refused to grant interviews about Epstein and his alleged sex-trafficking operation to federal prosecutors in New York.
As a British citizen, who is reportedly staying at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Prince Andrew cannot be forced to respond to an American lawsuit, sit for a deposition, or participate in a trial, according to one legal expert.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a women’s rights attorney known for representing gymnasts abused by the disagraced former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar, told Insider it’s likely Prince Andrew will try to ignore Giuffre’s lawsuit. But she said that won’t be an entirely painless process for him.
Tuegel said she’s representing a client who, like Giuffre, who is trying to sue a defendant located in the United Kingdom. Even just serving a defendant abroad is a “difficult and definitely complex process,” she said, but it’s possible.
“I think that the victim is sitting on really firm ground here,” Tuegel said. “I have researched and handled cases where I have argued the same thing: If you come into the state of New York and you abuse a child … you subject yourself to the law of the United States and the law of the state of New York, and you shouldn’t be above that. Even if you’re Prince Andrew.”
Prince Andrew likely can’t be extradited, but a judge could charge him with contempt
The main risk Prince Andrew faces if he fails to respond to Giuffre’s lawsuit is that of his assets in the US, Tuegel said – and even the broader assets belonging to the royal family in the US.
A judge could enter a default judgment against Prince Andrew for failing to appear in court or respond to a civil complaint, and that judge could demand the Duke of York’s US assets be used to pay for it.
“I would guess with this investigation he has probably shed some of that, as he has been a target of questioning and has not been cooperative,” Tuegel said. “But even if he has shed those assets – if he has some in New York or the United States – that will be an interesting issue that will not make him look innocent.”
It’s unlikely a judge would be able to extradite Prince Andrew, however, Tuegel said. Though a judge could charge him with contempt for failing to respond to the lawsuit, contempt of court is not an extraditable offense like murder, rape, or drug trafficking.
A contempt charge would put Prince Andrew’s ability to travel freely throughout the US and its territories at risk, Tuegel said. The prince could be subject to arrest if he enters the country, should a judge charge him.
“I expect that he is going to continue to try to do what he has already done, which is avoid and not respond and not cooperate,” Tuegel said. “But that could come with some negative consequences for him in the civil system.”
Representatives for Prince Andrew didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment on Giuffre’s lawsuit, but his spokesperson declined to comment to The Mirror.