US judge sets January hearing for Prince Andrew sex assault case

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Prince Andrew in January 2020 in Hillington, Norfolk (AFP/Lindsey Parnaby)
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A New York judge Thursday set a date of January 4 for a hearing in which lawyers for Britain's Prince Andrew will plead for dismissal of a case of sexual assault brought by a US woman.

"The Court will hear argument on defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on January 4, 2022, at 10 am" (1500 GMT) wrote Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The Duke of York, 61, has been under increasing pressure since August when Virginia Giuffre, 38, filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court accusing Queen Elizabeth's second son of sexual assault when she was a minor over 20 years ago.

Giuffre alleges that late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including Andrew.

She says the prince assaulted her at Epstein's home in New York, as well as on his private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Giuffre alleges that Andrew also sexually abused her at the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

Epstein died in a Manhattan jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges, in what New York's coroner ruled was a suicide.

Andrew denies the charges and has called for the complaint to be dismissed, saying it was "without merit" and that Giuffre was seeking to profit financially from the case.

A civil trial -- if the prince's request is rejected -- should be held "between September and December next year," Judge Kaplan said recently.

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