Jennifer Araoz, who said Jeffrey Epstein raped her at the age of 15, is suing British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, three unnamed members of Epstein’s household staff, and his estate.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, is the first against Epstein’s estate and one of the first filed under New York’s new Child Victims Act.
Araoz came forward last month in a TODAY Show interview and filed papers saying she intended to sue Epstein.
On Saturday, the billionaire financier and convicted sex offender was found dead by suicide in his jail cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Epstein was arrested in July on sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
A decade ago, when Epstein faced charges for the sexual abuse of dozens of children, he received a non-prosecution agreement that ensured he only served 13 months in county jail on two state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution.
The sweetheart deal also offered immunity to “any potential co-conspirators.” Epstein associated with many powerful people, including President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew, although none has been formally accused of criminality in connection with him.
Araoz’s complaint alleges that Epstein’s longtime associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, along with household staff, “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff.”
Araoz said that when she was 14, a young woman recruited her outside her school in New York City to give Epstein massages. She said that in 2002, when she was 15, Epstein raped her. She didn’t report to authorities but years after her experiences with Epstein, she told at least four people, who confirmed what Araoz said to NBC News.
Araoz’s lawsuit said that although she’d never met Maxwell, the longtime Epstein confidant implemented and maintained his criminal enterprise, making her sexual abuse possible.
The lawsuit is one of the first filed under New York’s Child Victims Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law in February. It allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to pursue prosecution against an abuser until the age of 55 for civil cases, rather than the previous cutoff of 23 years old. Victims can also seek prosecution for criminal cases until age 28.
Maxwell reportedly spent a lot of time with Epstein. An attorney who represented several of Epstein’s victims, Jack Scarola, told CBS News that multiple victims said she was a participant in “recruiting them for Epstein,” including taking them to Epstein on a daily basis over a long period of time and scheduling appointments for them to see Epstein.
Maxwell has not been charged in any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing. Still, said Scarola, “[t]here are allegations that Miss Maxwell was an active participant in the sexual abuse.”
Documents were recently made public that show one accuser, Virginia Giuffre, who said she had been recruited into Epstein’s sex ring when she was 16. Photos show Giuffre — who brought a lawsuit against Maxwell in 2009 — associating with Maxwell, Epstein, and Prince Andrew. Giuffre said all three participated in her sexual abuse. Buckingham Palace has responded to the allegations by calling them “categorically untrue.”
The documents also note that a butler for the Manhattan billionaire recalled a 15 year-old Swedish girl who’d said Maxwell kept her passport from her when she refused sexual contact with Epstein. The butler said the girl was “shaking uncontrollably.”
Authorities have recently had difficulty locating Maxwell, according to the Washington Post. In 2017, Maxwell’s lawyers said she did not have a fixed address but was living in London.