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Epstein accuser sues his estate and staff amid flurry of New York lawsuits

Jeffrey EspsteinImage copyright
Reuters

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Epstein was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges when he was found dead in his cell

A woman who accuses Jeffrey Epstein of raping her when she was a teenager is suing his estate, his longtime girlfriend and three of his staff.

The lawsuit, which was filed in New York on Wednesday, comes on the first day of a new rule that makes it easier for child sex abuse survivors to sue.

Epstein, 66, was awaiting federal trial for sex trafficking when he was found dead in a Manhattan jail on Saturday.

US officials say the investigation into his alleged crimes will continue.

The lawsuit, filed by Jennifer Araoz, 32, claims the disgraced financier had help from several people who selected her and prepared her for Epstein’s abuse when she was 15 years old.

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Getty Images

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Epstein’s home is one of the largest private dwellings in Manhattan

“I’m angry he won’t have to personally answer to me in the court of law. But my quest for justice is just getting started,” Ms Araoz wrote in a New York Times op-ed published on Wednesday.

In a statement accompanying her lawsuit, Ms Aroaz said she was taking the “first step towards reclaiming my power”.

What does the lawsuit say?

Ms Araoz also names Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and alleges three other unnamed women – referred to in court papers as the “recruiter”, the “maid” and the “secretary” – acted as accomplices.

The BBC has approached Ms Maxwell for the comment, but she has repeatedly denied playing any role in Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking ring.

Ms Araoz claims Ms Maxwell was tasked with discovering recruiters who in turn found “approximately three girls a day” for him.

  • How conspiracy theories spread after Epstein’s death
  • Who is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend?

She alleges the “recruiter”, who is described as a brunette woman in her 20’s, met her outside her Manhattan high school in 2001. She claims the woman told her of an older man that could help her family, who were struggling after her father died of Aids.

“Ms Araoz was a prime target for grooming by a paedophile like Mr Epstein,” her lawsuit said.

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Getty Images

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Ghislaine Maxwell (right) and Jeffrey Epstein (left)

“I take care of you, you take care of me,” the lawsuit quoted Epstein as saying.

For “a little over a year”, Ms Araoz claims she was paid $300 (£250) to give Epstein erotic massages around twice a week at his Upper East Side mansion in a room painted blue with clouds and angels, giving “the appearance that you were in heaven”.

In 2002, about a year after she met him, she alleges Epstein raped her during a massage.

  • Who was Jeffrey Epstein?
  • Epstein jail ‘a gulag’ in lower Manhattan

Ms Araoz claims she stopped visiting Epstein after the attack, and eventually left her school because of its proximity to the Epstein home.

Several other women have said they plan to file civil charges against Epstein’s estate.

The justice department and the FBI have both launched investigations into the cause and circumstances of Epstein’s death in New York.

The warden who oversaw the Manhattan Correctional Center, where Epstein died, has been reassigned and two guards who were overseeing his unit have been suspended.

The Child Victims Act

A new law, which goes into effect on Wednesday, makes it easier for victims of sex crimes as children to file civil lawsuits against the perpetrators.

The rule – the Child Victims Act – temporarily relaxes the statute of limitations and allows victims under the age of 55 to sue for crimes committed against them as children.

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Getty Images

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The accuser says Epstein’s home was close to her school

Hundreds of civil suits are expected to be filed on Wednesday against Epstein as well as institutions that care for children such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic church.

Hospitals and schools are also bracing for a possible financial blow. After a similar law was passed in California in 2002, the state’s Catholic dioceses paid $1.2bn in legal settlements.

Federal documents filed last month say Epstein was believed to be worth around $500m at the time of his death.

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