Prince Andrew has beefed up his legal team with a Princeton-educated female attorney as he prepares to fight the sexual assault lawsuit brought by a Jeffrey Epstein accuser who claims she was raped by the royal as a teen.
Court documents, filed Thursday and obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com, reveal the Duke of York, who denies the claims made against him, has asked Melissa Lerner to join his team.
Lerner is from Los Angeles-based Lavley Singer – a top law firm known for making celebrities’ legal problems disappear.
The same day, an attorney for Andrew’s accuser Virginia Roberts said Epstein’s estate had agreed to disclose the details of a secret settlement between her and Epstein – which the duke is arguing could protect him from liability.
Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, Britain, in 2001. Prince Andrew has taken steps to beef up his legal team for his fight against Roberts
Andrew, 61, finally recognized he had been served with the legal papers for the bombshell suit this week after repeated attempts to stall the process – by first reportedly avoiding attempts by his accuser’s legal team to serve him and then disputing the means of delivery.
Virginia Roberts, an alleged victim of convicted pedophile Epstein, filed a lawsuit against the Queen’s son in federal court in Manhattan, New York, on August 9.
She claims she was forced to have sex with the royal three times when she was 17 – under the age of consent in the US – after being recruited by the duke’s friend Epstein.
Andrew has long denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crime.
In a car-crash 2019 interview with the BBC, he claimed he had no memory of ever meeting Roberts, now a 38-year-old mother-of-three who lives in Australia and goes by her married name, Virginia Giuffre.
A now-infamous photo, taken inside the London townhouse of Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell, shows Andrew smiling for the camera with his arm around Roberts’ waist while Maxwell stands in the background.
Lerner, who has represented rock stars in the past, requested that she be allowed to represent Andrew with a motion for admission, a formal request to be somebody’s attorney.
The motion, filed in federal court, says she requests an order to ‘appear as counsel for Defendant Prince Andrew, Duke Of York, a/k/a Andrew Albert Christian Edward’.
Virginia Roberts (pictured) claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions when she was just 17 – under the age of consent in the US. He denies the allegations
Prince Andrew walking with Jeffrey Epstein in Central Park, New York City in 2011 after the friends left Epstein’s home in Manhattan
It says Lerner is ‘in good standing of the bar of the state of California and there are no pending disciplinary proceedings against me in any state or federal court’.
She adds that she has ‘never been convicted of a felony. I have never been censured, suspended, disbarred or denied admission or readmission by any court’.
The order will have to be approved by Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the case.
Approval should be simply a formality, meaning Lerner will then join Andrew Brettler, also of Lavely Singer, in representing the Duke.
Lerner previously represented the family of the late Soundgarden star Chris Cornell in a legal case against a doctor whom they alleged had overprescribed drugs to the musician.
Court documents reveal the Duke of York has asked Melissa Lerner (above) to join his team
Cornell killed himself in 2017 and Vicki Cornell, his widow, claimed that Dr Robert Koblin had prescribed ‘dangerous, mind-altering’ medication which led to her late husband behaving erratically.
The terms of the settlement, which was finalized in May this year, were not disclosed.
Lerner speaks English, Hebrew and some Spanish, according to a bio on the Lavely Singer website. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University School of Law.
Lavely Singer is one of the most high profile law firms in the US and is known for making celebrities’ problems disappear.
The firm is headed by Marty Singer, known as ‘Mad Dog Marty’ in Hollywood circles, and has represented stars including John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Charlie Sheen and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Brettler, most recently, represented Armie Hammer after he faced a string of accusations from women who claimed he sexually assaulted them and had cannibalistic fetishes.
Roberts, meanwhile, has four lawyers representing her from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, which is based in New York, led by David Boies and Sigrid McCawley.
Boies is also famed as one of America’s most talented lawyers, and is known for his forensic questioning of witnesses.
Boies on Thursday said Epstein’s estate will allow Roberts’ team to share the details of a secret settlement agreement made between her and the dead financier with the prince’s team.
Andrew is seen in April. An attorney for Andrew’s accuser said Thursday Epstein’s estate had agreed to disclose the details of a secret settlement between her and Epstein to the duke’s team – which he is arguing could protect him from liability
Roberts sued Epstein in federal court in Florida back in 2009 and they reached a confidential settlement, which has been sealed ever since.
Andrew’s attorney argued at a hearing earlier this month that the agreement absolves the royal ‘from any and all liability.’
Roberts’ attorney Boies said in a court document Thursday that he had requested and received permission from Epstein’s estate to share the settlement with the prince’s team.
However, Roberts’ team said the settlement will not protect Andrew as it is ‘irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew’.
Roberts last month accused Andrew in a federal court in New York of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Epstein died in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex crimes
The lawsuit claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times on the orders of his former friend Epstein, when she was 17.
It was filed under a law in New York that relates to child abuse as Roberts was considered a minor at the time under the state law.
The lawsuit claims that Andrew was one of the ‘powerful men’ who Epstein loaned Roberts out to for sex.
Andrew stepped away from royal duties after his friendship with Epstein surfaced in 2019.
The prince was spotted meeting up with Epstein in 2011 – following Epstein’s 2008 conviction for child prostitution. He has said he regrets his friendship with Epstein.
Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan August 2019 while awaiting trial on new charges of sexually abusing girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
His death was ruled a suicide but his attorneys and some family members claim he was murdered to stop him from sharing what he knows about other high profile, powerful people.
His alleged accomplice Maxwell, 59, was arrested in July 2020 on federal sex trafficking charges.
She is expected to stand trial in November accused of procuring girls as young as 14 for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
The British-born socialite denies the allegations.