Prince Andrew to Face Sexual Assault Accuser In Court

It's been a year of scandal for the British Royal Family, and just as the dust is finally beginning to settle from Meghan Markle's Oprah interview, that sizable controversy is about to be dwarfed by a lawsuit that threatens to put the entire institution on trial.

Prince Andrew -- the son of Queen Elizabeth and brother of Prince Charles -- has long been tabloid fodder overseas.

In the States, we mostly forgot about him following his marriage to Sarah Ferguson -- that is, until Andrew was linked to Jeffrey Epstein and shown to be a regular passenger on the infamous rapist's private jet.

Andrew stepped down from his role as a senior member of the family in 2019, and his royal relatives hoped that the many accusations of sexual assault against the 61-year-old would disappear along with him.

Prince Andrew

That hasn't happened.

Currently, Andrew is facing a civil suit from a woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims he forced her to have sex with him three times between 1999 and 2002.

Now, in what must surely be a nightmare scenario for the royals, Giuffre's case has gone to trial, with the proceedings beginning on Monday.

According to People magazine, a virtual hearing was held yesterday, but Andrew was not in attendance.

Prince Andrew Photo

No great surprise there, as the prince has been doing his best to avoid being involved in the trial in any way.

Until recently, he had successfully hidden from process servers, who were unable to issue a subpoena due to their inability to locate Andrew.

That cat-and-mouse game came to an end on August 27, when Andrew finally received his court summons.

Andrew and Virginia

Giuffre is American and she filed her suit in New York City.

But despite the fact that the virtual hearing removed the necessity of traveling between countries, Andrew was still absent from the proceedings.

"I think it is clear that Prince Andrew has actual notice of this complaint and proceeding," Giuffre's lawyer David Boies told Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Virginia Roberts, Prince Andrew

Despite the prince's absence, Andrew's legal team came out in full force for the hearing.

"We believe, however, that this is a baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that the Plaintiff has filed against the Duke," said one Andrew's attorneys.

"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." 

Prince Andrew Pic

Yes, they're claiming Andrew's innocence while at the same time asking for a previous settlement to be unsealed in order to prove that Giuffre has been paid off.

Nothing suspicious about that!

In a statement issued to People last month, Giuffre made it clear that she's not after Andrew's money but is instead hoping that some modicum of justice will be served.

Prince Andrew at a Party

"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," she told the outlet.

"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."

"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," says Giuffre's attorney Sigrid McCawley.

Virginia Giuffre

Andrew, meanwhile, continues to deny ever meeting Giuffre at all.

"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever. It just never happened," he said in a 2019 interview.

So Andrew claims he previously settled with Giuffre despite never having met her.

Something tells us the Queen is feeling mighty nervous this week.