The Duke of York’s bid to have his accuser’s sexual abuse claim thrown out will be debated before a judge in the New Year.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced on Thursday that he would hear arguments on the Duke’s motion to dismiss the complaint on January 4.
It will likely be the first event in the royal calendar in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, with celebrations likely to be overshadowed by the civil case.
Allegations of sexual assault
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now 38, has alleged that the Duke raped or sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17, in London, New York and on a Caribbean island.
The Duke has vehemently denied the claims.
In a 36-page legal memorandum accompanying the motion to dismiss the case, filed last Friday, the Duke’s lawyers accused Ms Giuffre of making "lurid" claims in order to secure "another payday at his expense".
They quoted a newspaper report that described Ms Giuffre as a "money-hungry sex kitten", as well as former friends who said she enjoyed living the high life and bragging about the money she made from her association with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender.
Andrew Brettler, the Duke’s LA-based counsel, argued that the complaint was devoid of any detail and was rendered unlawful by a financial settlement Ms Giuffre agreed with Epstein in 2009.
Trial expected to take place in autumn if dismissal fails
Ms Giuffre’s legal team will respond to the rebuttal on November 29. The Duke’s lawyers will then have until December 13 to reply before the judge hears oral arguments.
At a brief pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, revealed that he planned to call two British witnesses to support her case, prompting speculation that the Duke’s ex-wife, the Duchess of York, will be asked to give evidence.
He could also have been referring to Princess Beatrice or a police protection officer.
Ms Giuffre’s legal team has previously confirmed it is prepared to subpoena the Duchess and the couple’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, to try to cast doubt on his alibi.
If attempts to have the claim thrown out are unsuccessful, the trial is expected to take place next autumn.