• Jeffrey Epstein accuser sues estate, Ghislaine Maxwell

    By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    A woman who said she was raped by Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager filed suit Wednesday against the wealthy financier's estate, one of his associates and members of his staff, saying they conspired to maintain and protect a sex trafficking ring.

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    In the suit, filed Wednesday in New York County Supreme Court, an attorney for Jennifer Araoz, 32, said Epstein repeatedly sexually assaulted her when she was 14 and 15 years old.

    "Today, I am starting to reclaim my power," Araoz told reporters Wednesday, according to NPR News.

    Araoz sued Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime confidant, Epstein's estate and three unnamed staff members who were identified as a recruiter, a secretary and a maid.
    "Epstein never operated alone," Araoz said in an op-ed published Wednesday by The New York Times. "He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people."

    Maxwell has previously denied any wrongdoing.

    Araoz said she was a freshman in high school when she was approached by a recruiter who eventually convinced her to meet Epstein at his mansion Manhattan, where the alleged sexual abuse took place.

    The lawsuit was the first to be filed by any of Epstein's accusers since his death Saturday in a federal jail in New York. Epstein had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

    Prosecutors said Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of girls as young as 14 at his homes in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. He previously avoided significant jail time and federal prosecution in 2008, when he agreed to plead guilty to a pair of lesser charges after he was accused of molesting girls in Palm Beach County, Florida. He served 13 months in jail and agreed to register as a sex offender as part of the deal. 

    Despite Epstein's death, authorities vowed to continue investigating his alleged sex trafficking ring. Investigators on Monday raided his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Miami Herald reported. Epstein allegedly trafficked girls for sex on the island, which has sometimes been called "pedophile island" in the wake of his 2008 prosecution, the Herald reported.

    The lawsuit filed by Araoz is one of many expected to be filed by Epstein's accusers after a new state law went into effect in New York on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. The law opens a one-year window for sex abuse victims to bring cases against their alleged abusers in instances that otherwise would have fallen outside the state's strict statute of limitations, The Washington Post reported.

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