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Jeffrey Epstein accuser seeks to question him before filing lawsuit

Patricia Hurtado, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK -- The woman who came forward Wednesday on national TV to claim Jeffrey Epstein raped her when she was 15 wants to question him under oath to learn more about his alleged enablers before filing a lawsuit.

Jennifer Araoz, 32, filed a petition the same day in New York state court in which she seeks not only to question Epstein but also to find out the identity of a young woman she calls "the recruiter" who she said lured her into his clutches when she was 14. Epstein "committed repeated sexual assault and battery" against her in 2001 and 2002, she alleges in a draft of her suit, to be filed next month.

In the draft, also filed Wednesday, Araoz says she met the recruiter in the fall of 2001 when she was a freshman at a public high school for the performing arts on East 67th Street in Manhattan. The school is a few blocks away from Epstein's mansion. It was in that home, on East 71st Street, that Epstein would molest her repeatedly, she says.

"He raped me, forcefully raped me" at 15, she told NBC-TV. "I was terrified and was telling him to stop. And he did not stop. That's what he wanted, that's what he got."

Reid Weingarten, a lawyer for Epstein, didn't immediately return a voicemail seeking comment on Araoz's allegations.

The recruiter, who was waiting for her on the sidewalk one day when school let out, befriended her and took her for lunches nearby, Araoz says. The woman, who was in her early 20s, began mentioning Epstein "as if he were her uncle," she says.

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He was just a "nice guy" who "takes care of her and her family," she told Araoz, according to the suit. She spoke "glowingly" of Epstein, and said, "You have to see his house."

She peppered Araoz with questions about her family and background, Araoz says in the suit. Araoz says she confided to the recruiter that she had recently lost her father to complications from AIDS. The woman would later tell her "that Epstein felt horrible" about his death and wanted to help her. She promised her Epstein could "benefit" her, with his many friends in acting and modeling.

"Epstein was looking for teens from a local high school so he could abuse them," Daniel Kaiser, Araoz's lawyer, said in an interview. "This is a young girl who came from a broken home, whose father had died of AIDS. She was a lost soul, and Epstein paid her these sums of money which her mom desperately needed."

Under a New York State law that goes into effect next month, Kaiser said, victims of child sexual abuse have a year, starting Aug. 14, to file suits over older claims. In the meantime, he said, he is seeking to depose Epstein and get any of the financier's business records.


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