A Woman Is Suing Ghislaine Maxwell And Jeffrey Epstein's Former Employees For Allegedly Enabling His Sexual Abuse
Jennifer Araoz, who also filed the lawsuit against Epstein's estate, alleged the disgraced financier raped her when she was 15 years old.
One of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the disgraced financier's estate, three of his employees, and his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell, alleging they maintained and helped conceal his sex trafficking ring.
Jennifer Araoz — who alleged that Epstein sexually assaulted her when she was 14 years old and raped her in 2002 when she was15 years old — publicly revealed the alleged abuse in an NBC News interview last month.
In the complaint filed in New York County Supreme Court, Araoz alleged that Maxwell and Epstein's three employees, who were not named in the lawsuit, “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff.”
Epstein was arrested July 6 and charged with running a sex trafficking operation in which he allegedly sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, in his New York and Florida homes between 2002 and 2005.
He was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He faced up to 45 years in prison.
Epstein died of an apparent suicide last week at the Manhattan jail where he was being held until trial.
In a call with reporters Wednesday, Araoz and her lawyers said that they aim to expose those who enabled Epstein for years and hold them accountable.
"Adults closely within Epstein’s orbit — they are all culpable," Araoz's lawyer, Dan Kaiser, said. "They shared with each other connections and resources to keep these crimes concealed."
Kaiser said that the lawsuit was about holding "wealth and power" accountable. "Our nation should not tolerate this kind of abuse at the hands of the elite and the plutocrats."
Araoz is the first to file a lawsuit under New York's new Child Victims Act, which went into effect Wednesday.
The law allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against their attackers for the next year, regardless of when the abuse took place. After that, alleged victims can file civil lawsuits up until the age of 55.
“Today is my first step towards reclaiming my power,” Araoz said Wednesday. “Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence, my self-worth. For too long, they escaped accountability. I am here today because I intend to change that.”
Wednesday's filing amended the lawsuit that Araoz filed July 10 against Epstein, who was still alive at the time, and his three "Jane Doe" employees. Maxwell, the financier's former girlfriend, was added to the list of defendants in the amended complaint.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Maxwell's lawyers and Epstein's lawyer for comment.
On Thursday, a federal appeals court unsealed more than 2,000 pages of documents from a defamation lawsuit that one of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, filed against Maxwell in 2015 after the British socialite issued a press release calling Giuffre a liar after she went public with her allegations. The lawsuit was settled in 2017.
Among these unsealed documents are depositions from Epstein's former staffers, containing allegations Maxwell was the financier's enabler and procurer of underage girls.
"In the perusing of those court records, it is clear that Ms. Maxwell was a co-conspirator in this sex trafficking ring. It’s clear she played an administrative role in securing recruiters, who in turn recruited and groomed other young girls," Kaiser said.
Kaiser said that Maxwell should be considered a co-conspirator in Araoz's sexual abuse and the abuse of Epstein's other alleged victims, even though she never met his client.
"There was a sex trafficking ring and Ms. Maxwell was a key figure in accomplishing that," Kaiser said. "If you are victimized by that sex trafficking ring — which she maintained and helped conceal — [Maxwell] is responsible as a co-conspirator and responsible for the injuries [Araoz] suffered at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein."