On Saturday, billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for alleged sex trafficking of dozens of minors between 2002 and 2005. On Monday, charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking were unsealed and new evidence of what appears to be child pornography presented following the raid of his New York City mansion. On Wednesday, NBC News published accusations from a new accuser, who says that Epstein and one of his female “recruiters” lured her in when she was just 14 years old — and Epstein “forcefully raped” her when she was 15.
“Jennifer Araoz says she was 14 years old when a young woman approached her outside her New York City high school in the fall of 2001,” NBC News reports. “The woman was friendly and curious, asking Araoz personal questions about her family, her upbringing, their finances. Soon she began talking to Araoz about a man she knew who was kind and wealthy and lived nearby. His name, the woman said, was Jeffrey Epstein.”
“I was kind of a lost kid and she sensed it,” Araoz told NBC. The woman, whom she described as a brunette in her 20s, told her that Epstein just wanted to help people and was supporting her and her family. Araoz said the woman described him as “almost like a fatherly figure to her, which had meaning for me at that time because I was maybe longing for that.”
Convinced by the unnamed woman to visit Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, Araoz, now 32, said initially all he wanted to do was talk, the “recruiter” always accompanying them. Among the things they discussed were her dreams of becoming a Brodway actress and the tragic passing of her father, who died of AIDS two years before. She said he made sure to mention that he had donated money to AIDS charities and said he believed she could be a model. Each time she left, he handed her $300, she said.
Things grew sexual the first time she visited Epstein’s mansion without the woman, she said. The financier gave her a tour of the mansion that ended with a visit to what he described as his “favorite room in the house,” where a massage table rested on the floor and a painting of a nude young woman hung on the wall, she said.
“When he first brought me up there, he was like, ‘You know, you remind me so much of this woman in the painting,'” she said. He then asked her to strip down to her painties and give him a massage. “I felt almost obligated because of the money he was giving me,” she said. “I didn’t know if he would get angry or if I didn’t listen what the repercussions would have been. So I kind of just followed. I was so young, so I didn’t know better.”
“Araoz would return to that room regularly over the next year, she said, manipulated into stripping down to her panties and giving Epstein massages that ended with him pleasuring himself to completion and her leaving with $300,” NBC reports.
Araoz told NBC that she told both the recruiter and Epstein that she was 14 years old. “He knew exactly who he was hanging out with,” she said. “I don’t think he cared.”
She said she met with him once or twice a week for the duration of her freshman year of high school. In fall 2002, when she was 15, the situation turned violent. During her final visit to his house, she said, Epstein asked her to take off her panties and then grabbed her.
“He raped me, forcefully raped me,” Araoz told NBC. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”
“I was terrified, and I was telling him to stop. ‘Please stop,'” she said.
“Epstein, Araoz said, ignored her pleas,” NBC reports. “She never returned to his home after that day and her life spiraled downward over the next several years as a result of the trauma, she said.”
Araoz was not among the victims named in the indictment unsealed Monday, NBC notes. Araoz said she did not contact authorities but did inform at least four people several years later, including her mother, a boyfriend, and two close friends. NBC contacted the people she named and they confirmed that she told them. She appears to have revealed the information first around 2008, the year Epstein struck an infamous plea deal with federal authorities.
“She said that she was raped by Epstein and before the rape she had been giving him massages for a year,” her long-time friend told NBC. “There’s no doubt in my mind knowing her character, the type of person she is, that what she says happened is exactly what happened.”
“Araoz’s legal team filed papers in New York state court Wednesday seeking more information from Epstein prior to filing her civil complaint,” NBC reports. “Her lawyers contacted Epstein’s attorneys this past March seeking an out-of-court settlement but the talks broke down, Araoz’s lawyer said.” Epstein’s legal team did not respond to NBC’s requests for comment. Read the full report here.