10:59am PT by Ashley Cullins
Jeffrey Epstein's Estate Sued Following New York Law Change
Jeffrey Epstein's estate has been sued by a woman who says she was raped by him when she was a high school student in the wake of a New York law that went into effect on Wednesday and opened a one-year window for people 55 and younger whose childhood sexual abuse claims fall outside the statute of limitations to take legal action.
Prior to the Childhood Victims Act, child sexual abuse offenses couldn't be prosecuted after five years from when they happened and civil lawsuits had to be brought within three years of the victim turning 18. It is expected to result in a deluge of litigation, and already there have reportedly been hundreds of such complaints filed.
Jennifer Araoz on Wednesday sued Epstein's estate, after petitioning the court in July to force him to give her the identity of the "recruiter" who she says groomed her. Her lawyer acknowledged that his client couldn't sue until the CVA was effective, because the alleged incidents occurred in 2001 and 2002, and attached a draft of the complaint to the petition. Initially, Araoz intended to sue Epstein himself, but he was found dead in his jail cell on Saturday while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. So, her suit now targets Epstein's estate as well as his associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three Jane Does who are described as a recruiter, secretary and maid.
Araoz says she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Epstein when she was 14 to 15 years old, and she cites court records alleging Maxwell helped ensure "approximately three girls a day were made available to him for his sexual pleasure."
The recruiter approached Araoz outside of her high school when she was a freshman and befriended her, asking personal questions and taking her to lunch near the school, according to the complaint. She began talking up Epstein and bragging about his wealth before saying she told the billionaire that Araoz had lost her father to AIDS and Epstein wanted to help her.
Araoz's complaint describes Epstein's "massive" home in detail before describing an escalating series of alleged assaults that began with masturbating in front of her in his "massage room" and culminated in forceable rape when she was 15. She says the "encounters" occurred once or twice a week throughout her entire freshman year and the first half of sophomore year, and each time she left his house she was given $300. She says after she was raped she never returned to Epstein's home, ignored his calls and refused to go back to her high school.
Further lawsuits against Epstein's estate are expected, as attorneys Lisa Bloom and Roberta Kaplan told Reuters earlier this week that they represent victims and intend to take action under the new law.