Jennifer Araoz, who accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexually assaulting her when she was as young as 14, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the late financier’s alleged procurer of young girls and three other women he employed.
The suit claims that Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide over the weekend, “committed repeated sexual assault and battery upon Ms. Araoz while Ms. Araoz was a 14-15 year old high school student, including forcibly raping Ms. Araoz.”
Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, was in jail when he apparently killed himself.
Epstein’s accused co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, “participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting his sex trafficking ring, ensuring that approximately three girls a day were made available to him for his sexual pleasure,” the lawsuit filed in New York state court says.
Maxwell, daughter of the late British media mogul Robert Maxwell, also “provided organizational support to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring” by hiring Epstein’s recruiters and by acting as the scheduler for Epstein’s operation and “intimidating potential witnesses,” the suit says.
The suit is being filed against Epstein’s estate under New York’s new Child Victims Act, which went into effect Wednesday and gives victims of child sex abuse the opportunity to bring civil cases for the next 12 months, regardless of when the alleged attacks took place.
“Today is my first step towards reclaiming my power,” Araoz, now 32, said in a phone call with reporters Wednesday. Epstein “robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence and my self-worth,” she said.
“For too long he escaped accountability,” Araoz added. “I am here today because I intend to change that.”
Araoz’s lawyer, Dan Kaiser, said the suit is intended to hold accountable “some of his enablers … that made some of this possible.”
Epstein, 66, who was in federal custody in Manhattan on charges of sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking conspiracy, had been served legal documents detailing Araoz’s claims a day before he was found injured in his cell on July 23 in a possible suicide attempt.
On Saturday, Epstein was found dead in his cell in an apparent suicide. He is believed to have hanged himself with a bedsheet, according to media reports. The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center has since been reassigned, and the two guards supposed to be watching Epstein were placed on leave, by order of Attorney General William Barr.
In an op-ed for The New York Times published Wednesday, Araoz said that “I’m angry he won’t have to personally answer to me in the court of law. But my quest for justice is just getting started.”
Araoz had planned to ask a judge to order Epstein to submit to a deposition in order to learn the identity of the woman who recruited Araoz in 2001 when Araoz was a high school freshman.
Kaiser told CNBC on Wednesday that Maxwell’s possible deposition would be “very important” in the process of identifying the recruiter and other figures involved with Epstein’s alleged crimes.
Maxwell is a “significant focus of discovery at this point,” Kaiser said.
That recruiter, one of the three unnamed defendants in the Araoz’s case, is described in the lawsuit as being “a brunette woman believed to be in her early 20s” who worked for Epstein in New York at the time she allegedly approached Araoz.
The other unnamed defendants include a “secretary” and a “maid,” both of whom worked for Epstein in New York, according to the suit.
Araoz is asking for punitive and compensatory damages.
Her lawsuit accuses the recruiter of befriending her over the course of several weeks before introducing her to Epstein, who plied her with gifts before pressuring her to provide him massages that became increasingly sexually abusive.
Epstein’s indictment, lodged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, alleged that he had sexually abused dozens of underage girls in his mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.
Epstein was a registered sex offender as a result of pleading guilty in 2008 to state charges filed in Florida related to prostitution involving an underage girl.