A woman who says she suffered lasting damage from sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17 years old sued his estate, joining other women who are speaking publicly about pain they have long confronted largely alone.
Teala Davies, 34, joined the growing list of women who have sued the wealthy financier who died in August after he was found unresponsive in his jail cell in what a medical examiner labelled a suicide. A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for Epstein's estate.
She filed her lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, where a magistrate judge on Thursday urged lawyers for the estate and victims to negotiate how victims can be compensated for injuries.
Davies appeared at a news conference with lawyer Gloria Allred, who read a statement from her client that described herself as the "perfect victim" for a predator who took advantage of vulnerable underage teenagers and young women.
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Allred said her client had a difficult childhood that included being homeless for a year at age 11.
According to the lawsuit, Davies was raped and sexually abused by Epstein at his residences in New York, Paris, Florida, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"It took me a long time to break free from his mind control and abuse," Davies said in her statement. "I still have flashbacks. It still hurts."
She said she was speaking publicly "to set an example and inspire all victims of sexual abuse to conquer their fear and tell someone."
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, said the abuse ended when Epstein sent her home for good after she told him she was suffering from bulimia. It was not the first time Davies had appeared publicly. She also spoke along with other women at an August court hearing after Epstein's death.
"I'm still a victim because I am fearful for my daughters and everyone's daughters. I'm fearful for their future in this world, where there are predators in power, a world where people can avoid justice if their pockets run deep enough," Davies said at the hearing.
The Davies lawsuit was filed a day after another woman anonymously sued in Manhattan federal court against Epstein's estate, alleging she was manipulated at age 16 by Epstein to be completely dependent on him before he repeatedly sexually assaulted her.
The woman said in the lawsuit that she came to the United States as a young child with her parents from a war-torn region of the world. The lawsuit said she was living in New York and enjoying success as a model with numerous spreads in major fashion magazines when she met Epstein in 2004.
The abuse over more than a year led her to quit modelling and feel humiliated, angry and suicidal, the lawsuit said.
'PERFECT STORM OF SCREW UPS'
It comes as US Attorney-General William Barr said he initially had his own suspicions about financier Jeffrey Epstein's death while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America but came to conclude his suicide was the result of "a perfect storm of screw-ups".
Barr told the Associated Press his concerns were prompted by the numerous irregularities at the Manhattan jail where Epstein was being held.
However, he said after the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector-general continued to investigate, he realised a "series" of mistakes gave Epstein the chance to take his own life.
"I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst- case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups," Barr told the AP as he flew to Montana for an event.
Barr's comments come days after two correctional officers who were responsible for guarding the wealthy financier when he died were charged with falsifying prison records.
Officers Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are accused of sleeping and browsing the internet – shopping for furniture and motorcycles – instead of watching Epstein, who was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.
Epstein took his own life in August while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes unless they give their consent, which several Epstein accusers have done.