A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Florida, has rejected a bid by two women to join a high-profile sexual abuse lawsuit and ordered scandalous sex allegations against Britain's Prince Andrew and a prominent U.S. lawyer removed from the court record.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra's ruling Tuesday came in a case involving wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The two women, identified as Jane Does No. 3 and No. 4, claim to be among dozens of women Epstein sexually abused as teenagers at locations ranging from a Palm Beach mansion to a private Caribbean island to a sprawling New Mexico ranch.
The women wanted to join a lawsuit filed by other alleged victims. The lawsuit against the U.S. government seeks to reopen a non-prosecution agreement Epstein reached with federal prosecutors. Epstein pleaded guilty more than six years ago to state sex offenses and served a 13-month jail sentence, but could have gotten a much longer prison term if the Justice Department had brought charges.
Federal prosecutors opposed allowing the two Jane Does to join the lawsuit, which was filed in 2008, and Marra agreed.
"Justice does not require amendment in this instance," the judge wrote.
Marra also ordered sensational allegations against Prince Andrew and well-known lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor, stricken from the court record. Both denied any wrongdoing, with Dershowitz contending in his own court filings that Jane Doe No. 3 made up sex abuse stories involving him. Buckingham Palace stood by Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II who is also known as the Duke of York.
Marra said the sex abuse details had no bearing on the lawsuit's goal of reopening the Epstein non-prosecution agreement.
"The factual details regarding with whom and where the Jane Does engaged in sexual activities are immaterial and impertinent to this central claim," the judge wrote. "These unnecessary details shall be stricken."
Buckingham Palace had no comment Tuesday, referring to its past denials. Dershowitz, in a statement, called the decision "a vindication of my position" and said it should serve as a warning to attorneys against making unsupported allegations.
Miami attorney David O. Markus, a former Dershowitz student and close friend, said Marra made the right decision.
"Judge Marra saw through all the noise and correctly found that this is a court of law, not a tabloid which prints first and looks for evidence later. These absurd allegations have no place in our legal system," Markus, who is not involved in the case, said in an email.
Brad Edwards, an attorney for the Jane Does, said the women could still participate in the case later and that the sex abuse allegations may surface again as evidence. Marra's did not rule on whether the claims were true or false, or if they may be admissible in the future.
"We look forward to those later stages," Edwards said.
The lawsuit, filed by two other Jane Doe victims, claims federal prosecutors improperly concealed the Epstein non-prosecution agreement, violating federal victims' rights laws. If it is reopened, Epstein could be exposed anew to federal prosecution and the U.S. government could be forced to pay the women damages.
Epstein has already reached out-of-court financial settlements with dozens of the victims.