Prince Andrew says US sexual assault accuser is an Australia resident in bid to have lawsuit dismissed

Ms Virginia Giuffre (left) sued Prince Andrew claiming he sexually abused her on multiple occasions when she was 17. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Britain's Prince Andrew says a US lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault may need to be thrown out because the alleged victim probably lives in Australia.

In a filing on Tuesday (Dec 28) in Manhattan federal court, Prince Andrew said a finding that Ms Virginia Giuffre was domiciled in Australia would remove the court's jurisdiction over the case.

He asked US District Judge Lewis Kaplan to force Ms Giuffre to answer questions about her residency under oath.

Ms Giuffre sued Prince Andrew in New York in August, claiming he sexually abused her on multiple occasions when she was 17, after convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein "lent" her out to the British royal and other powerful men.

Prince Andrew has denied her allegations.

In Tuesday's filing, Prince Andrew said recently discovered evidence shows that Ms Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the last 19 years, despite claiming in her suit that she was a resident of Colorado.

Ms Giuffre hasn't lived in Colorado since at least 2019, Prince Andrew said, and had an Australian driver's licence and lived in a US$1.16 million (S$1.57 million) West Perth home with her family when she filed the suit.

'Her mother's address'

"It appears that prior to filing this action, but well after she returned to Australia, Ms Giuffre registered to vote for the first time in Colorado using her mother's home address in Penrose," Prince Andrew said.

"The timing of Ms Giuffre's voter registration is suspicious and appears to be a calculated move in an effort to support her specious claim of citizenship in Colorado despite having moved to Australia at least a year (if not four years) earlier."

Ms Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Ms Giuffre, called Prince Andrew's filing "another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him".

"All parties in litigation are subject to discovery and Prince Andrew is no exception," Ms McCawley said in a statement.

Ms Giuffre has said she was recruited by Epstein and his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell as a teenager and subject to years of abuse.

Though she did not testify at Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial, prosecutors described Ms Giuffre to the jury as another victim, and one of the accusers who took the stand said Maxwell asked Ms Giuffre to "show her what to do" in Epstein's Palm Beach, Florida, massage room.

The jury in Maxwell's case is now on it fifth day of deliberations.

The most vocal of Epstein's alleged victims, Ms Giuffre has also accused other men linked to Epstein of sexually abusing her, including Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has denied the claim and filed his own suit against Ms Giuffre.

She also sued Maxwell for defamation after the British socialite called her a liar.

'Diversity jurisdiction'

That suit was settled out of court, but Maxwell now faces perjury charges over her deposition testimony denying knowledge of Epstein's interactions with underage girls.

Ms Giuffre sued Prince Andrew in New York under so-called "diversity jurisdiction", which allows US residents to sue residents of other US states or foreign nationals in federal court.

But a US citizen who has permanent residency abroad can't use such jurisdiction to pursue claims in federal court.

Prince Andrew has made several other arguments to have the suit tossed.

In late October, he asked Judge Kaplan to throw out the case, saying it was barred by a 2009 settlement agreement she reached with Epstein and that she had pleaded insufficient facts to support her claim.

Earlier this month, Prince Andrew also said a New York law that gave victims of sexual abuse more time to sue is unconstitutional and can't be used to allow Ms Giuffre's claims.

Judge Kaplan is set to hear arguments on Prince Andrew's October motion on Jan 4.

The judge last month said the case could go to trial as soon as next fall.

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