Britain’s Prince Andrew will face a civil case in the United States over allegations he sexually assaulted a woman when she was 17 after a judge gave the green light on Wednesday.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, is now at the centre of one of the world's most high-profile legal battles, after launching the civil case against Britain's Prince Andrew under the New York's Child Victims Act.
In her suit, she alleges Prince Andrew sexually abused her as a teenager on multiple occasions in London, Manhattan, and the US Virgin Islands in 2001 — allegations which he denies.
In light of this new development, we take a look at who is Virginia Giuffre, what her allegations are and what will be next for the British royal.
Who is Virginia Giuffre?
According to a BBC report, she was sexually abused by a family friend at the age of seven.
In 2000, at the age of 16, she worked a summer job as a spa attendant at former US president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
It was there, Giuffre says, that she met British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who she said offered her a job as a travelling masseuse for a rich financier: Jeffrey Epstein.
Giuffre was allegedly trafficked to then 41-year-old Prince Andrew in 2001. The Duke is accused of having sex with Ms Giuffre (then known by her maiden name, Virginia Roberts) on three occasions; a trip to London in 2001 when she was 17 for which she was paid $15,000, and later in New York and on Little Saint James, a small private island in the US Virgin Islands.
In a Netflix documentary in 2020, titled Jeffrey Epstein, Filthy Rich, Giuffre speaking of Epstein, who is now deceased, said that she had been "like a slave" to them.
Allegations against Prince Andrew
Giuffre filed the lawsuit against the British royal in August 2021, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under American law.
Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, was born in 1983 in the US state of California. Her family then moved to Florida.
Despite photographic evidence of the two together, Andrew, 61, has vehemently and repeatedly denied her allegations and says that he has no recollection of ever seeing her.
In her lawsuit, Giuffre said she has continued to suffer "significant emotional and psychological distress" decades after the alleged assaults.
She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
"Twenty years ago Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account," the suit states.
Prince Andrew’s counter
The British royal has denied all allegations in a 2019 television interview, he was quoted as saying, "It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever."
A report in The Independent states that the Duke’s legal team formerly tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that she lives in Australia, not in the US, as the suit suggests.
However, the dismissal attempt faced a setback when US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan rejected the motion by Prince Andrew’s lawyers to have the lawsuit dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
Where is Giuffre now?
AFP reports that Giuffre escaped Epstein's clutches in 2002 when she flew to Thailand to attend massage training school. There she met her future husband Robert Giuffre. They live in Australia with their three children.
Last year, Giuffre founded ‘Speak Out, Act, Reclaim,’ a support group for victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse.
What next in the lawsuit?
According to an AP report, Andrew's lawyers could appeal the ruling. They will have opportunities to try to get the case dismissed on other grounds.
Even as the US judge ruled against the British royal on Wednesday, there's a long way to go before Giuffre's case winds up before a jury.
There are also chances that Andrew, facing enormous pressure, will try to settle the case quickly, rather than let Giuffre's attorneys seek to question him under oath.
Any such deal would probably not elicit any admission of guilt or accountability.
With inputs from agencies