Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Giuffre has dropped a lawsuit against a high-profile lawyer and one-time Donald Trump attorney, saying she may have made a mistake in accusing him.
Ms Giuffre agreed to withdraw her defamation suit against Harvard law emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who had counter-sued Ms Giuffre over her allegations he sexually abused her as a teenager. It is understood no payments were made by either side.
Ms Giuffre claims she held as virtual sex slave by Jeffrey Epstein and abused by him, his then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and members of their social circle over a number of years from the age of 17.
She brought the claim against Mr Dershowitz in New York in 2019, claiming emotional distress after he called her a “complete, total liar”.
Mr Dershowitz, who has represented the former president Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, OJ Simpson and a host of other prominent figures in his long legal career, always fiercely denied the accusations.
In a joint statement released by the two on Tuesday, Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, recognised she “may have made a mistake”.
Ms Giuffre said that she had “long believed” Epstein had trafficked her to Mr Dershowitz.
“However, I was very young at the time, it was a very stressful and traumatic environment, and Mr. Dershowitz has from the beginning consistently denied these allegations,” she wrote. “I now recognize I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz. This litigation has been very stressful and burdensome for me and my family, and we believe it is time to bring it to an end and move on with our lives.”
It included comments from Mr Dershowitz, 84, who commended Ms Giuffre for her “courage” in saying she may have been mistaken.
“She has suffered much at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein and I commend her work combating the evil of sex trafficking,” Mr Dershowitz said in his own statement.
The development will raise questions about Ms Giuffre’s reliability. The now 39-year-old settled a civil suit with the Duke of York earlier this year for over $12 million.
Prince Andrew did not admit guilt; he released a statement saying that he “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others”.
In the weeks before the case was settled, the Duke’s legal team highlighted reported inconsistencies in Ms Giuffre’s telling of the story of the alleged sexual encounter in 2001.
Supporters of Mr Dershowitz suggested on Tuesday night that he was simply relieved that the litigation, which began in December 2014, was finally over and that he could get on with his life.
It is thought that Ms Giuffre’s lawyers advised her to settle after questions were raised during the discovery process.
“As I have said from the beginning, I never had sex with Ms. Giuffre,” Mr Dershowitz said in his statement. “I have nevertheless come to believe that at the time she accused me she believed what she said. Ms. Giuffre is to be commended for her courage in now stating publicly that she may have been mistaken about me. She has suffered much at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, and I commend her work combating the evil of sex trafficking.”
Before Epstein’s 2019 death in a Manhattan jail cell, Ms Giuffre sued him too, receiving $500,000 in a settlement.
Mr Dershowitz had previously stated he had no intention of settling before the case reached trial: “There’s no chance in a million that I would settle this case without her making a complete admission that she has lied about me,” he said.