Jennifer Araoz has sued Jeffrey Epstein's estate, a close friend and three of his staffers for helping him run an alleged sex-trafficking ring. Photo courtesy of New York State Division of Criminal Justice/EPA-EFE
Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A woman who has accused disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein of sexual abuse including rape when she was a teenager sued his estate, his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed female staff of the Epstein household.
Jennifer Araoz, 32, alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted as well as forcefully raped by Epstein when she was 14 and 15 years old. The suit filed Wednesday accuses Maxwell and Epstein's staff of having "conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff."
Epstein, charged with sex trafficking in connection to luring underage girls to his homes in Palm Beach and New York, was in a New York prison awaiting trial when he was found dead Saturday of an apparent suicide.
In an opinion piece published Wednesday in The New York Times, Araoz said she filed the lawsuit Wednesday - the day a key provision goes into effect that allows adult survivors of childhood abuse to reap claims after the statute of limitations has expired - to seek justice despite the death of her alleged abuser.
"I'm angry he won't have to personally answer to me in the court of law," she wrote in the piece. "But my quest for justice is just getting started."
She said for years Epstein was able to hide behind his power, wealth and influence, but that would change as she was also suing those she accuses of facilitating and enabling his alleged criminal behavior.
"I want my story to hold Epstein to account and also his recruiters, the workers on his payroll who knew what he was doing and the prominent people around him who helped conceal and perpetuate his sex-trafficking scheme," she wrote. "Their hideous actions victimized me and so many young girls like me."
She said she was 14 when a woman approached her outside her art school in New York and told her about a wealthy man who could help her with her acting career.
She said the first few times she visited Epstein's house, the experience was "benign" and she left with $300 in hand supposedly to help her family.
But, as the trips became more frequent, she was told to give him massages during which he would allegedly ask her to take off her clothes, touched her and touched himself. The abuse escalated, she said, until he allegedly raped her in 2002. She never returned to his house, she said, and she dropped out of school as it was close to where the alleged abuses took place.
Araoz's civil attorney, Dan Kaiser, said if they uncover any powerful men who participated in Epstein's alleged sex trafficking, their names may also be added to the suit as defendants.
"Our nation should not tolerate this kind of abuse at the hands of the elite and the plutocrats," he said.
She also accuses Maxwell, the 57-year-old socialite daughter of British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, of having "participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting his sex-trafficking ring," according to the complaint.
Though the statute of limitations has expired on the crimes, The Child Victims Act, which goes into effect in New York Wednesday, allows adults who were sexually abused as children to seek reparations.
At least 200 lawsuits have been filed under the new act since Wednesday morning.