Prince Andrew cannot be extradited to answer sex accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s damning lawsuit — but likely faces a final reputational ruin no matter how he responds, according to legal experts.
The 61-year-old son of Queen Elizabeth II was sued in Manhattan federal court Monday by Giuffre, who for years said late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell made her have sex with the royal three times, starting when she was “a child.”
Giuffre told The Post Monday that she “did not come to this decision lightly,” but insisted her legal action would prove that she “was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.”
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she said in a statement.
“The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions,” she said.
But while Giuffre said she hoped to show it was possible “to reclaim one’s life by speaking out and demanding justice,” it was far from obvious exactly how her court action would play out.
Because Andrew faces a civil suit, and not criminal charges, he cannot be compelled to come to New York to answer it, legal experts note.
The 2003 extradition treaty, brought in by George W. Bush, says UK citizens can only be extradited for felonies “punishable by imprisonment or other form of detention for more than one year or by the death penalty,” neither of which, of course, apply for Andrew.
“This is not about whether or not Prince Andrew will go to jail — he has no criminal exposure from this particular case,” Melissa Murray, professor of law at New York University, stressed to the BBC.
That protection was highlighted by Andrew’s ability to repeatedly avoid talking to the feds about his late pal Epstein, with then-Attorney General William Barr confirming last summer that there were no legal moves into getting him handed over.
But those attempts to interview him could prove an added incentive for Andrew to stay away from the US, no matter what happens with Giuffre’s suit — with the FBI more likely to be able to force him to talk if he came, The Telegraph noted.
Lawyers for Epstein accusers have also previously warned that they would subpoena him the second he stepped foot here.
While protected from extradition, Andrew’s standing as a British royal would not, however, give him complete immunity from the case, or any others in the scandal.
While his 95-year-old mother, the queen, has Sovereign Immunity under UK law, that does not apply to her children. Any attempts to use royalty as a defense would also be weakened by the fact that he was not on official business the trio of times that Giuffre alleges she was made to have sex with him, in London, New York and Epstein’s island.
Still, royal commenter Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline that he sees “no conceivable chance” of Andrew agreeing to appear in a Manhattan court given that he did not even assist the FBI.
“I see absolutely nil chance,” he insisted.
His legal team would likely also want to avoid Andrew having to testify, given how his interview trying to justify his friendship with Epstein and Maxwell ended so disastrously, The Telegraph noted.
“His performance on Newsnight was one of the great car crash interviews and a grilling by a skilled New York attorney risks a terrifying humiliation,” the UK paper noted.
The alternatives have equally unappealing outcomes, however.
If he settles out of court — even while denying liability — it would “seriously damage” his already scarred reputation, and likely make it impossible for him to ever return to royal duties, The Telegraph noted.
If he just ignores it, he could be found guilty in absentia — which “would be catastrophic for the Prince because then a court would be officially labeling him a child sex abuser,” the UK paper noted.
His only real hopes would be for the case never to make it to court, including by Andrew getting it switched to the High Court in London and struck out on grounds of lack of evidence, The Telegraph noted, without suggesting why Giuffre’s legal team would accept that option.
Adding to Andrew’s woes, the lawsuit comes at a “really unfortunate time,” with his socialite pal Maxwell due to stand trial in November for her alleged role in the sex-trafficking ring, NYU professor Murray told the BBC.
“With this civil suit pending and her about to go to trial on these criminal charges, there may be even more pressure — and indeed temptation — for her to co-operate with federal prosecutors,” Murray suggested.
Maxwell would then “perhaps provide more information about all of the individuals who were in the orbit of Jeffrey Epstein and that could, allegedly, include the prince himself,” the professor said.
No matter what happens, legal and royal watchers warn that the lawsuit could spell disaster for Andrew.
“This case will bring more embarrassment for him and for the royal family — as is anything to do with Andrew and Epstein,” royal commenter Fitzwilliams told MailOnline.
Andrew and Buckingham Palace have always vehemently denied Giuffre’s allegations.
“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew told the BBC, insisting, “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.
Neither he nor his legal team have commented on the lawsuit.
“No question. I know everything about him. I think he is an extraordinary person,” she told the UK paper. “It’s just, I know who he is,” she said.