Prince Andrew has been told he should be prepared for a civil trial late next year on accusations that he sexually abused a teenager who was the victim of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Speaking from New York on Thursday morning, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said that he anticipated a trial on Virginia Giuffre’s civil claims would begin between September and December 2022.
The exact date for proceedings would depend on whether a jury could be accommodated safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I will look at the possibility of September, but in any case October through December as being the target here,” Mr Kaplan said in a phone conference with lawyers for both sides.
Ms Giuffre, now 38, sued Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, for unspecified damages in August.
She alleges that when she was under the age of 18, Andrew – a friend of Epstein – forced her to have sex at the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been charged with sex trafficking.
The prince is also accused of abusing Ms Guiffre at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and on one of Epstein’s private islands in the US Virgin Islands.
Andrew, the Duke of York, has not been charged with crimes.
The conference about the court date came five days after Andrew, 61, said he “unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false accusations against him” and urged the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
In a motion filed by his lawyers at the weekend, Andrew said Ms Giuffre’s “frivolous lawsuits” were attempts to seek “another payday” in a more than decade-long effort to profit from accusations against Epstein and people associated with him.
“Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” the motion reads.
Thursday morning’s phone conference indicates the court case will proceed.
Before any trial, Ms Giuffre and Andrew would submit to questioning under oath by opposing lawyers.
That would likely occur before July 14.
Andrew was forced to step down from royal duties over his friendship with Epstein, who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while being held on sex-trafficking charges.