A woman who alleges that she was raped by Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager has filed a lawsuit against the late financier's estate, his longtime confidant Ghislaine Maxwell, and three unnamed women who worked for Epstein.
Jennifer Araoz claims that Epstein sexually assaulted her numerous times when she visited his Manhattan townhouse between the ages of 14 and 15, and in one instance, he raped her. She would not have been put in these circumstances, she alleges, had it not been for the efforts of Maxwell and her associates.
In the complaint, Araoz, now 32, alleges that Maxwell "participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting his sex-trafficking ring" by hiring recruiters to bring him underage girls for sexual purposes, scheduling appointments for Epstein with these girls, as well as intimidating witnesses and ensuring that his behaviour remained a secret.
Epstein died of an apparent suicide while in federal custody in New York City on Saturday, after being charged with sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. His death has complicated his alleged victims' attempts to seek justice, but it has also put a spotlight on Maxwell, who some of Epstein's accusers allege played a key role in procuring young girls and keeping his secrets. Maxwell was already named in a 2015 defamation lawsuit brought by a different Epstein accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, which has led to thousands of pages of documents detailing Epstein's activity being made public in recent weeks.
Araoz was one of the girls Maxwell allegedly procured, according to the complaint Araoz filed on Wednesday. She alleges that a "recruiter" hired by Maxwell approached her when she was a 14-year-old freshman at a New York high school and brought her to Epstein's residence.
Lawyers said to be representing Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Marty Weinberg, a lawyer representing Epstein, did not immediately provide a comment.
The complaint alleges what Araoz told NBC's Savannah Guthrie in July that Maxwell was "100%" recruiting for Epstein, and that she had been a victim of these efforts. She claims she was brought to his New York townhouse and eventually instructed to give him massages, where he eventually began masturbating in front of her.
The complaint says that these incidents occurred on a weekly basis while she was a freshman and a sophomore in high school, and that she was paid $300 each time she gave Epstein a massage. He frequently groped and assaulted her during massages, Araoz claims, but she was fearful of Epstein and "did what she was told." When she was 15, the complaint said, he raped her.
During one massage, she claims Epstein told her to take off her underwear and climb on top of him.
"I said I didn't want to, and he, you know, very forcefully kind of brought me onto the table," Araoz told Guthrie of the 2002 incident. "I just did what he told me to do. I was really scared and I was telling him to stop, please stop."
Epstein, she says, did not stop.
"He raped me," Araoz said. "Forcefully raped me, knew exactly what he was doing, and I don't think cared."