Florida judge strikes off woman's allegations of forced sex with Britain's Prince Andrew

MIAMI (AFP) - A United States judge has struck from the record "lurid" allegations by a woman who said she was forced into sexual relations with Britain's Prince Andrew when she was 17.

In a ruling filed on Tuesday, Florida US District Judge Kenneth Marra said that the woman's claims were not needed to decide a years-old civil case centering on American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Two women, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4, are trying to join the civil suit dating back to 2008.

Jane Doe 3 has alleged she was "forced to have sexual relations" with Prince Andrew, who is now 55, meeting him in London, New York and the Caribbean at the behest of Epstein, a Wall Street financier. She claims Mr Epstein had kept her as a "sex slave."

The civil suit the two women are trying to join accuses federal prosecutors of cutting a plea-bargain deal with Mr Epstein without consulting his victims, in violation of the US Crime Victims Rights' Act.

But Judge Marra said the claims were not needed and ordered them stricken from the record.

"At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary to the determination of whether Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4 should be permitted to join petitioners' claim that the government violated their rights," the judge wrote in a 10-page ruling.

Buckingham Palace has repeatedly and strongly denied the allegations against Prince Andrew, calling them "false and without foundation".

In January, the Prince said he wished to "reiterate and reaffirm" the denials.

The Florida judge went on to say that Jane Does 3 and 4 should not be added to the original case, but could be called as witnesses at trial.

In 2008, Mr Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a single Florida state charge of soliciting prostitution. He remains a registered sex offender.

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