Prince Andrew may face 2022 US civil trial

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A US judge says Prince Andrew should be prepared for a civil trial late next year on accusations that he sexually abused a woman when she was under 18 and also being abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said he anticipated a trial on Virginia Giuffre's civil claims would begin between September and December 2022, provided that a jury could be accommodated safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I will look at the possibility of September, but in any case October through December as being the target here," Kaplan said in phone conference with Andrew's and Giuffre's lawyers.

Giuffre, 38, sued Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, for unspecified damages in August.

She said Andrew forced her to have sex at the London home of longtime Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell and abused her at Epstein's mansion in Manhattan and on one of Epstein's private islands in the US Virgin Islands.

Andrew, the Duke of York, has not been charged with crimes.

The conference came five days after Andrew, 61, said he "unequivocally denies Giuffre's false accusations against him" and urged Kaplan to dismiss the lawsuit.

Andrew said Giuffre had been seeking "another payday" in a more than decade-long effort to profit from her accusations against Epstein and people associated with him.

Before any trial, Giuffre and Andrew would submit to questioning under oath by opposing lawyers by next July 14.

Epstein was found dead at age 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, in what a medical examiner called a suicide.

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