Prince Andrew questions accuser Giuffre's ability to pursue sex abuse lawsuit

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NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - A lawyer for Britain's Prince Andrew on Tuesday questioned whether Virginia Giuffre is legally entitled to pursue her civil lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was under 18.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the lawyer Andrew Brettler said "recently discovered evidence" suggested that the court lacked jurisdiction because Giuffre has lived in Australia for most of the last two decades, and cannot prove she resided in Colorado as she stated in her complaint.

The prince's filing came ahead of a scheduled Jan. 4, 2022, hearing before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on whether to dismiss Giuffre's lawsuit.

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Lawyers for Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Giuffre, 38, accused Andrew of forcing her to have sex more than two decades ago at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, the former associate of financier Jeffrey Epstein, and abusing her at Epstein's homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Andrew, 61, has denied Giuffre's claims, and accused her of trying to profit from accusations against Epstein and people who knew him. The prince has not been charged with crimes. Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages.

Federal courts may assert "diversity jurisdiction" over lawsuits when no plaintiff shares a state of citizenship with any defendant.

Brettler said Giuffre failed this test because she has not lived in Colorado since at least 2019, and it was "long-established" that U.S. citizens who permanently resided abroad cannot invoke diversity jurisdiction.

He also suggested that Giuffre made a "calculated move to support her specious claim" of Colorado residency by registering to vote there, using her mother's and stepfather's mailing address, in February 2020.

"Without being able to satisfy the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this dispute and must dismiss the action as a matter of law," Brettler wrote.

Andrew wants to halt the gathering of evidence until the jurisdictional issue is resolved, and is seeking "limited" discovery to determine whether Giuffre can sue him.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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