New Jeffrey Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz says she was 15 when financier raped her in his New York mansion
Wednesday - 10/07/2019 18:35
Make-up artist, 32, filed court papers in preparation for suing Epstein and aired her allegations on NBC’s Today show
A new accuser of Jeffrey Epstein said on Wednesday that the wealthy financier raped her in his New York mansion when she was 15.
Jennifer Araoz filed court papers seeking information from Epstein in preparation for suing him, and she aired her allegations on NBC’s Today show, though she said she has not discussed them with the authorities.
The 32-year-old make-up artist told Today she never went to police because she feared retribution from the well-connected Epstein.
“What hurts me even more so is that if I wasn’t afraid to come forward sooner, then maybe he wouldn’t have done it to other girls,” Araoz said. “I feel really guilty to this day.”
Messages were left with Epstein’s lawyers seeking comment.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment on Araoz’s claims. Messages were left with New York police seeking comment on Araoz’s allegations.
The new allegation comes two days after federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein with abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansions in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, in the early 2000s.
Epstein, a 66-year-old Wall Street master of high finance with friends in very high places, pleaded not guilty on Monday to sex-trafficking and conspiracy charges – an indictment that could land him behind bars for up to 45 years.
His lawyers said in court that the allegations in the indictment could not amount to statutory rape because there was no penetration.
Epstein has not been charged with assaulting Araoz. But the woman’s account contradicts his defence lawyers’ contention that Epstein never used violence or coerced anyone who gave him massages.
“She was a child – a child on welfare, with no father, who was groomed, recruited and preyed upon,” said one of Araoz’s lawyers, Kimberly Lerner. Araoz’s father died when she was 12.
Araoz, in her court filing and TV interview, said her first contact with Epstein came in 2001, when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman at a performing-arts high school, aspiring to become an actress.
She said she was approached outside her school by a woman who told her that Epstein was a caring person who would help her with her career.
I don’t want to say I was screaming, or anything of that nature. But I was terrified. And I was telling him to stopJennifer Araoz, make-up artist
Araoz found Epstein welcoming, showing her his mansion filled with exotic taxidermy and elaborately painted ceilings, while his staff offered her wine and cheese, she said.
After a few weeks of visits, each ending with a US$300 payment, she said she was escorted to a “massage room”, with a ceiling painted to resemble angels in a blue sky. There, she said, she would give him massages that would often lead to sex acts.
“I take care of you, you take care of me,” Epstein told her, according to her court papers.
She said Epstein had a painting of a naked woman that he said resembled her; she also recalled prosthetic breasts he would play with while bathing.
“It was very odd,” she said.
The visits continued once or twice a week until she turned 15, when she said Epstein told her to remove her underwear and climb on top of him.
She said she told him she did not want to but that he forcibly had sex with her anyway.
“I don’t want to say I was screaming, or anything of that nature. But I was terrified. And I was telling him to stop,” she said in the Today interview.
“He had no intentions of stopping,” she said. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”
Araoz said she was “terrified” after the assault and never returned to Epstein’s home. She even left her high school because it was so close to his mansion.
Epstein’s staff continued reaching out to her for about a year, Araoz said, but she did not respond.
Prosecutors said a search of Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion yielded a vast trove of hundreds or even thousands of lewd photos of young women or girls.
The defence team says the federal charges should be dismissed in light of a once-secret agreement that allowed Epstein to avoid a potentially lengthy prison sentence – a case involving nearly identical allegations of Epstein sexually abusing underage girls.
Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges over a decade ago and spent 13 months in jail. That plea deal was supposed to protect Epstein from federal prosecution, his lawyers said.