Advertisement
  1. Nation & World

Accuser says Jeffrey Epstein raped her when she was 15

FILE - In this July 30, 2008 file photo, Jeffrey Epstein, center, appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. The wealthy financier pleaded not guilty in federal court in New York on Monday, July 8, 2019, to sex trafficking charges following his arrest over the weekend. Epstein will have to remain behind bars until his bail hearing on July 15. (Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post via AP, File)
Published Jul. 10

NEW YORK — A new accuser of Jeffrey Epstein said 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 hasn't discussed them with authorities.

The 32-year-old makeup 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 attorneys seeking comment.

The U.S. 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 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 couldn't amount to statutory rape because there was no penetration.

Epstein has not been charged with assaulting Araoz. But the woman's account contradicts his defense attorneys' 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.

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 $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 didn't 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 didn't 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 defense 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.

Federal prosecutors say the Florida deal does not apply to the Southern District of New York. They said the charges unsealed this week overlap with the earlier case but include new allegations and victims from New York.

Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz, Kiley Armstrong and Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Workers refuel the tank at a gas station in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump declared Monday that it "looks" like Iran was behind the explosive attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. He stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table in response to the strike against a key U.S. Mideast ally. AMR NABIL  |  AP
    Even before Tuesday’s reversal in prices, economists downplayed the prospect that the price spike could send the economy reeling.
  2. Snowden published his book, “Permanent Record,” without submitting it for a pre-publication review, in violation of non-disclosure agreements he signed with both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency, the Justice Department alleges. Image by Archive
    Snowden published his book, “Permanent Record,” without submitting it for a pre-publication review.
  3. In this April 19, 2017, file photo, Cokie Roberts speaks during the opening ceremony for Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Roberts, a longtime political reporter and analyst at ABC News and NPR has died, ABC announced Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.  She was 75. MATT ROURKE  |  AP
    She died Tuesday in Washington of complications from breast cancer.
  4. Energy-efficient LED light bulbs. (Times | 2008) St. Petersburg Times
    Trump’s administration recently scrapped a rule that would have phased out incandescent light bulbs.
  5. FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2018 file photo, a marcher carries a sign with the popular Twitter hashtag #MeToo used by people speaking out against sexual harassment as she takes part in a Women's March in Seattle.  According to a study published Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, the first sexual experience for many U.S. women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions. TED S. WARREN  |  AP
    Almost 7 percent of women surveyed said their first sexual intercourse experience was involuntary; it happened at age 15 on average and the man was often several years older.
  6. This undated photo provided by the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office in McAlester, Okla. shows Alexis Wilson. Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said Wilson was arrested Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, after investigators saw a video of her shooting an AK-47 and her co-workers reported she had said she would "shoot up" the school. AP
    Alexis Wilson was arrested Monday after a co-worker told investigators that Wilson had said she wanted to shoot 400 people at McAlester High School.
  7. President Donald Trump speaks at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat Dinner in Baltimore on Sept. 12. JOSE LUIS MAGANA  |  AP
    The country is moving in that direction, though.
  8. People stand in line outside the Santa Ana Star Center arena awaiting the start of President Donald Trump's rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. Officials with Trump's campaign said they are working to win the support of more voters in the traditionally Democratic state ahead of the 2020 election. RUSSELL CONTRERAS  |  AP
    Vowing to win the New Mexico vote next year, Trump heralded surging oil production in New Mexico and decreasing unemployment nationwide among Hispanics.
  9. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The news organization’s handling of a new sexual misconduct allegation against the Supreme Court attracted almost as much attention as the accusation itself.
  10. Gas prices could surge over the coming days because of a sharp drop in Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Pictured is a man filling up his car. | [Times file photo]
    A weekend drone strike on an oil processing facility caused the kingdom to cut production in half.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement