A new Jeffrey Epstein accuser has opened up about the traumatic sexual assault and rape she suffered at the hands of the billionaire when she was just 15 years old.
During an appearance on NBC's Today show, Jennifer Araoz said that at 14 years old, she was contacted by one of Epstein's "recruiters" who brought her to the hedge fund manager's New York City townhouse with a promise that he could help her with her career. In the beginning, she was treated well, served wine, and paid $300 for each visit.
After a few weeks, the encounters started to escalate, and she was asked to accompany Epstein to the massage room, which he called his "favorite room in the house." In addition to massages, he would be asked to play with his nipples and he would masturbate in front of her. Although she wasn't comfortable with his sexual requests, she recalls being "afraid he would get angry" if she refused. Once the massages ended, he would "finish himself off and that would be the end of it."
Araoz recalls seeing suggestive artwork hanging on the walls, including a painting of a naked woman next to the massage table, which Epstein would say looked like Araoz. She also recalls seeing prosthetic breasts in his bathtub that he would play with.
After about a year of the massage sessions, once Araoz had turned 15, she said Epstein asked her to take off her underwear and get on top of him. "I said I didn't want to ... he kind of very forcefully brought me to the table and I did what he wanted," she recalls. "I was terrified and I was telling him to stop, please stop."
Following the traumatic experience, Araoz stopped going to Epstein's home, despite the persistent messages she received from his staff. She ultimately left her school, which was located in close proximity to his home. "I didn't want that to happen again."
Araoz said she told his alleged accomplices her age, and also mentioned it in front of Epstein. “He knew exactly who he was hanging out with,” she explained to NBC. “I don't think he cared.” She has filed a petition and plans to file a lawsuit against the billionaire investor once a new law takes effect in August, allowing adult victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers and negligent institutions in New York, per CNN.
In addition to Araoz's allegations, the Associated Press published a story Wednesday detailing Epstein's reputation on the island of St. Thomas, which neighbors Little St. James Island, an island he bought more than two decades ago. However, it wasn't until after Epstein pleaded guilty to procuring a minor for prostitution in 2008 that the island itself stirred locals' suspicions. “Everybody called it ‘Pedophile Island,’” said Kevin Goodrich, who operates boat charters in St. Thomas, where he's from. “It’s our dark corner.”
Another local, who works in construction and was hired for a job on Epstein's island, recalls seeing young girls on the billionaire's property but remembers thinking they were older than 18. “When he was there, it was keep to yourself and do your thing,” he told the outlet.
On Saturday, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport and two days later, federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal indictment against him. He is being charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.