Under New York’s new Child Victims Act, a Jeffrey Epstein accuser is suing his estate, a longtime female associate and three unnamed members of his household staff for allegedly aiding Epstein in a sexual abuse and trafficking scheme, according to reports.
Jennifer Araoz, 32, says Epstein, who died of an apparent suicide last week while in jail awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, raped her at his mansion in Manhattan when she was 15.
She explained her decision to file the lawsuit in an article that appeared Wednesday on the opinion page of The New York Times.
“I used to feel alone, walking into his mansion with the cameras pointing at me, but now I have the power of the law on my side,” she wrote.”I will be seen. I will be heard. I will demand justice.”
Araoz said she had felt that “the power structure was stacked against me” and that Epstein’s money, influence and connection made her want to hide and stay silent.
“Reliving these experiences is tough, but I’ve learned to be tougher,” she wrote.
In July, she said in a TODAY Show interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News that she planned to sue Epstein. She said at the time that she was recruited outside her high school near Epstein’s home. “I was just a lost kid, you know,“ Araoz told Guthrie.
Araoz alleged in her complaint in New York that socialite and longtime Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell and the other staffers “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff,” NBC News reports.
The suit alleges that Maxwell “participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting Defendant Epstein’s sex trafficking ring” by ensuring a steady stream of young women by identifying and hiring “recruiters,” setting up appointments with Epstein, as well as intimidating potential witnesses, according to NBC News.
The other unnamed targets of the suit are identified only as “the Recruiter,” the “Secretary” and the “Maid,” according to The Daily Beast.
Maxwell, daughter of British media magnate Robert Maxwell, has not been criminally charged and has repeatedly denied accusations that she assisted Epstein in his sexual abuse and alleged trafficking of underage girls.
Maxwell, 57, had been a longtime companion of Epstein and is shown embracing the disgraced financier in a photo next to Donald Trump and then girlfriend Melania Knauss at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in 2000.
Maxwell’s ties to Epstein resurfaced last week when a federal judge unsealed documents in a 2015 defamation suit against Maxwell brought by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Although the case was settled in 2017, the depositions, phone logs and other documents portray Maxwell as an alleged enabler for Epstein’s sexual abuse.
The Araoz lawsuit was filed under New York’s new Child Victims Act, which took effect Wednesday. The act gives alleged victims of child sex abuse the right to bring civil cases against alleged abusers for the next 12 months, regardless of when the abuse occurred. After that period, victims will still have up until age 55 to file civil suits.
The new act also increases from 23 to 28 the age when an alleged victim of felony sexual abuse can press charges and from 23 to 25 in misdemeanor cases.
On the criminal front, federal prosecutors have vowed to continue pursuing the trafficking case despite Epstein’s death. They say they will now focus on anyone who assisted or enabled Epstein in what authorities say was his widespread sexual abuse.