Prince Andrew formally served sex assault lawsuit in US
Prince Andrew - Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images Europe
The Duke of York was officially served on a U.S. sexual assault lawsuit, which became known Monday night when he was urged by friends and aides to leave his London-based legal team amid growing concerns about his strategy.
Attorneys representing the Duke's longtime accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a document with the New York court confirming that it had forwarded the lawsuit to its American attorney Andrew Brettler via email and FedEx on Monday.
Prince Andrew, 61, had questioned the various delivery methods, but Judge Lewis Kaplan made it clear in an order last week that he could be notified by Mr Brettler from LA.
He now has 21 days to respond to the lawsuit or face a default judgment.
The Duke faces the prospect of highly damaging legal proceedings after repeated non-replies to the lawsuit appear to have backfired.
His defense will be led by Gary Bloxsome, a London-based criminal defense attorney who was hired early last year.
However, well-placed sources close to the Duke have warned him that Mr Bloxsome's preferred strategy of blocking the allegations has enabled David Boies, the American lawyer representing Ms. Giuffre, to “outsmart him at every turn and play out ".
His advisors wonder if he's hired the right team for the job amid reports of crisis talks at Balmoral, where the Duke is currently staying. There are fears that the "wall of silence and circumvention" could harm the monarchy's legal department.
One source said it was unlikely that there would be a change of course in "wholesale" as the court hearings were already underway. However, the pressure to change the dynamic is so great that it is believed the Duke should insist on a change of strategy.
Another source close to the Duke claimed he had been bombarded with alternative advice by well-positioned legal experts and friends, but appeared to have put all his trust in Mr. Bloxsome.
The source warned that his reputation was already so damaged that it was difficult to see a way back.
"I don't think I've ever come across a situation where anyone has been publicly tried in this way," the source said. "It doesn't matter if it's fully upheld by a court, the damage has already been done. It's almost unprecedented."
The source said the Duke's legal team should have created a situation where they had a "line in the sand" from which to move, adding, "Andrew doesn't have that line. People advise him on a lot of different Kinds. But it's not over yet - far from it. "
Ms. Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke when she was 17 in London, Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan townhouse, and Epstein's Caribbean island - a claim the Duke has vehemently denied.
He has not yet offered a formal legal response to the civil complaint. On Friday, he had a week to challenge the High Court's decision to accept a motion for formal notice of the lawsuit.
Lewis Kaplan, the New York judge who led the case, warned Andrew Brettler, the Duke's newly appointed U.S. attorney, last week about wasting time and money on paperwork. The next hearing is scheduled for October 13th.
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