/Jeffrey Epstein accuser sues his longtime associate, 3 staffers

Jeffrey Epstein accuser sues his longtime associate, 3 staffers


A new front in the Jeffrey Epstein case opened Wednesday morning, as Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz filed a lawsuit against his estate, his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed female household staff.

Araoz alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Epstein at his New York City townhouse when she was 14 and 15 years old, including a forcible rape in 2002. She first disclosed her alleged abuse publicly in an exclusive TODAY Show interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on July 10, the same day she filed papers in New York state court saying she intended to sue Epstein.

The complaint Araoz filed Wednesday alleges Maxwell and the other staffers “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff.”

The suit is among the first to be filed against Epstein’s estate following his death by suicide Saturday. It amends a suit she intended to file against him to name his estate as a defendant.

It is also one of the first lawsuits filed under New York state’s new Child Victims Act, which goes into effect Wednesday. The landmark law enables victims of child sex abuse to bring civil cases against alleged abusers for the next 12 months, regardless of when the abuse took place. After the year, victims will still have up until age 55 to file civil suits.

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NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against billionaire financier Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 08: Two of the purported victims of multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild leave a Manhattan court house after a hearing on sex trafficking charges for financier Jeffrey Epstein on July 08, 2019 in New York City. Epstein is charged with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: Two of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild (R), exit the courthouse after the billionaire financier appeared for a hearing on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

NEW YORK, US – JULY 08: David Boies, attorney for the alleged sex victims of the US financier Jeffreey Epstein case, delivers a speech to the media outside the United States Federal Court on July 08, 2019 in New York, United States. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: A residence belonging to Jeffrey Epstein at East 71st street is seen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein is charged with running a sex-trafficking operation out of his opulent mansion. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: Prosecutors exit the room after US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: Member of the press listen as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: A protest group called “Hot Mess” hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein and President Donald Trump in front of the Federal courthouse on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. Court documents unsealed Monday show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In this courtroom sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, second from right, listens along with defense attorneys, from left, Marc Fernich, Michael Miller, and Martin Weinberg as Judge Richard M. Berman denies him bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the “heart of this decision.” (Aggie Kenny via AP)

FILE – This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. A judge denied bail for jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges Thursday, July 18, 2019, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the “heart of this decision.” (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)

In this courtroom sketch, Judge Richard M. Berman speaking as he denies Jeffrey Epstein bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the “heart of this decision.” (Aggie Kenny via AP)

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and his attorney Martin Weinberg listen during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein’s lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

This courtroom sketch shows Judge Richard Berman as he speaks during the Jeffrey Epstein bail hearing in federal court, Monday July 15, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, listens as accuser Annie Farmer, second from right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Farmer says she was 16 when she “had the misfortune” of meeting Epstein and later went to spend time with him in New Mexico. Accuser Courtney Wild, right, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. Epstein’s lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and attorney Reid Weingarten, second from right, listen as attorney Martin Weinberg, right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein’s lawyers have insisted he will not run. They want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. Courtney Wild, third from left, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. She called him a “scary person” and urged detention “for the safety of any other girls” out there. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

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Araoz’s case was not cited in the sex-trafficking indictment filed against Epstein in July. After his indictment and after she went public with her allegations, she was interviewed by both the FBI and federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York as part of their investigation of Epstein. Araoz is continuing to cooperate as the criminal focus turns to any potential Epstein co-conspirators, her attorneys told NBC News.

Multiple young women have accused Maxwell, now 57, the youngest daughter of late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, of complicity in Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking ring. They say she either recruited them directly or provided logistical support, like scheduling visits to Epstein’s home.

Maxwell’s alleged role came into sharper focus last week in newly unsealed court filings that include depositions from Epstein’s former masseuses, staffers and associates. They paint a portrait of Maxwell as the accused sexual predator’s chief enabler.

The filings are related to a 2015 defamation lawsuit that alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed against Maxwell. That suit was settled out of court in 2017.

Maxwell has not been criminally charged and has repeatedly denied the accusations against her. In Epstein’s 2007 plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to bring any criminal charges against other potential co-conspirators identified in the course of the investigation. Maxwell was not named in the agreement as a potential co-conspirator. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution felonies, served 13 months in a county jail — with daytime work release — and registered as a sex offender. The deal has been widely criticized by legal experts.

Araoz’s case represents a new legal liability for Maxwell and other household staff — a secretary, a maid, and a “recruiter” who Araoz says she encountered outside her high school a few blocks from Epstein’s home in the fall of 2001.

The suit alleges 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,” scheduling appointments with Epstein, as well as intimidating potential witnesses and ensuring the scheme remained secret.

Though Araoz says she never met Maxwell personally, her suit draws a direct line between Maxwell’s alleged administrative support of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring and the abuse she experienced. “Upon information and belief,” says the complaint, ”Maxwell conspired with Epstein in the implementation and maintenance of his criminal enterprise which, in turn, victimized Ms. Araoz.”

Maxwell’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment or a question regarding Maxwell’s whereabouts. They did, however, recently send a letter to Araoz’s attorney, Dan Kaiser, responding to the intended lawsuit.

“The powerful and wealthy enabled Epstein,” Kaiser told NBC News. “The well-connected both participated in the sex-trafficking ring and aided in its concealment and perpetuation. They will now be held accountable.”

Epstein’s lawyers did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In prior discussions with Araoz’s attorneys, Epstein’s attorneys had questioned her credibility.

New York’s new Child Victims Act also pertains to criminal cases — the statute of limitations has increased five years, so that victims will now have until the age 28 to press felony charges for sexual abuse and age 25 for misdemeanors.

As NBC News has previously reported, Araoz never contacted the authorities to tell her story, but she says she did tell at least four people — her mother, her old boyfriend and two close friends — about the Epstein encounters several years after they occurred. Reached by NBC News, all four confirmed that she told them years ago that she had been sexually assaulted by Epstein.

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