In what is the first lawsuit involving Jeffrey Epstein filed after his death and among the first targeting his associates, Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz filed a suit Wednesday against the billionaire financier’s estate and his “network of enablers,” specifically Ghislaine Maxwell, a female “recruiter,” a maid, and a female secretary, NBC News reports.
Epstein was arrested in early July on charges of sex trafficking “dozens” of minors over several years. After his arrest, more information and accusations came to light, with several high-profile names cited in connection with the disgraced billionaire. On Saturday, Epstein was found dead in his cell from what authorities say was a suicide carried out by self-strangulation using a bedsheet tied to the top of a bunk bed.
Before his death, Araoz came forward to accuse him of sexually assaulting her over a period of several months beginning when she was just 14 years old. In her account, Araoz detailed the crucial role played by a female “recruiter,” who Araoz says approached her outside of her high school in New York City in 2001 and convinced her to meet Epstein, and a secretary who set up her weekly “massage sessions” with the financier. On Wednesday, Araoz filed a lawsuit against those “enablers.”
“The complaint Araoz filed Wednesday alleges Maxwell and the staffers ‘conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff,'” NBC News reported Wednesday.
Maxwell has repeatedly been named by accusers as Epstein’s chief “accomplice,” multiple women describing her as one of his recruiters and one of the people who helped manage his various sessions with females.
Despite the accusations, which she denies, Maxwell is yet to be criminally charged. Araoz’s lawsuit, however, specifically names Maxwell as one of Epstein’s “enablers” who “conspired with Epstein in the implementation and maintenance of his criminal enterprise which, in turn, victimized Ms. Araoz.”
On the same day Araoz filed her new lawsuit, she explained her rationale in an op-ed published by The New York Times.
“I’m filing a civil action against Jeffrey Epstein’s estate and accomplices today, under New York’s Child Victims Act. A key provision of the law goes into effect today and allows survivors to revive claims if the statute of limitations had expired,” she writes. “Epstein was found dead, apparently by suicide, in his jail cell last week. 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.”
She goes on to detail the role played by some of Epstein’s alleged accomplices, including the unnamed recruiter and a secretary (formatting adjusted):
During my freshman year, one of Epstein’s recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people. I was attending a performing arts school on the Upper East Side, studying musical theater. I wanted to be an actress and a singer.
The recruiter told me about a wealthy man she knew named Jeffrey Epstein. Meeting him would be beneficial, and he could introduce me to the right people for my career, she said. When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, she told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially. The trap was set.
The visits during the first month felt benign, at least at the time. On my second visit, Epstein also gave me a digital camera as a gift. The visits were about one to two hours long and we would spend the time talking. After each visit, he or his secretary would hand me $300 in cash, supposedly to help my family.
After recounting the alleged sexual abuse and ultimate rape at the hands of Epstein, she cites again the empowering enactment of the Child Victims Act as a reason she was finally able to take action. “For years I felt crushed by the power imbalance between Epstein, with his enablers, and me. The Child Victims Act finally offers a counterweight. Moving forward, victims will now have until age 55 to bring a civil case,” she writes.