As questions regarding Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in jail continue to circulate, one of his accusers has filed a lawsuit against his estate, his longtime business partner Ghislaine Maxwell, and three other unnamed Epstein staffers. Jennifer Araoz accused the deceased financier and convicted sex offender of sexually assaulting her when she was 14 and 15 years old, NBC reports, and now she's taking legal action.
Araoz, who said she was forcibly raped by Epstein in 2002 when she was 15, first announced her intention to sue him last month. The new complaint she filed on Wednesday accuses Maxwell and three other unnamed staff members of conspiring with each other "to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff."
In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Araoz said, "Today is my first step towards reclaiming my power. Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence, my self-worth." She continued, "For too long, they escaped accountability. I am here today because I intend to change that."
In a piece for The New York Times, Araoz wrote about her experiences with Epstein. "Epstein was found dead, apparently by suicide, in his jail cell last week. 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," she wrote. "During my freshman year, one of Epstein’s recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people."
Araoz's civil attorney, Dan Kaiser, added, "Adults closely within Epstein’s orbit—they are all culpable. … They shared with each other connections and resources to keep these crimes concealed." Kaiser also said if any men helped facilitate Epstein's alleged sex trafficking, they also enabled him. As of right now, Kaiser is considering adding more names to the suit.
On Wednesday, New York's new Child Victims Act goes into effect, making Araoz's lawsuit the first to take the landmark law into action. The Child Victims Act enables young victims of abuse to bring civil cases against alleged abusers regardless of when they took place. Kaiser is currently seeking a deposition from Ghislaine Maxwell so Epstein's unnamed "recruiter" can be identified.
CBS News reports that "a source familiar with the situation" claimed to have heard shrieking from Epstein's jail cell on the morning he was found dead. The insider said corrections officers then tried to revive the financier while saying, "Breathe, Epstein, breathe."
Because there are many questions surrounding Epstein's alleged suicide, government officials have demanded an investigation into the case. Attorney General William Barr blasted the Metropolitan Correctional Center, claiming the facility failed to "adequately secure" Epstein.
"We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability," Barr said. "I was appalled and frankly angry to learn of the MCC's failure to adequately secure this prisoner."