A New York woman who said Jeffrey Epstein groomed her for sex starting when she was 14 and then raped her a year later sued his estate on Wednesday, one of possibly many lawsuits that his estate may face after his death by an apparent suicide.
While Mr. Epstein’s death ended a federal criminal prosecution on child sex trafficking charges, his estate may still have to defend against civil suits. He was believed to have been worth at least $500 million.
Other women who have said they were victimized by Mr. Epstein said they planned to file lawsuits, and a new state law in New York that expands the amount of time that sexual abuse victims can sue could open the door to more claims.
In her lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jennifer Araoz said she was recruited by an unnamed woman outside her Manhattan high school in 2001 before meeting Mr. Epstein and giving him erotic massages once or twice a week in his Upper East Side townhouse.
In 2002, about a year after they met, Mr. Epstein pulled Ms. Araoz on top of him during a massage and raped her, according to the lawsuit. She did not visit his townhouse again, she said.
Ms. Araoz first told her story to NBC News last month, after Mr. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport on the federal charges. Her lawsuit could be one of many new claims that are filed against the Epstein estate in New York under the new law passed this year.
The law, called the Child Victims Act, expands the amount of time that prosecutors can file sexual abuse charges and victims can sue their abusers.
Crucially, the law created a one-year “look-back window,” during which claims that had already passed the statute of limitations could be revived. That window opened on Wednesday.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Araoz said she was groomed by the unnamed “recruiter” — whom she described as a brunette — outside Talent Unlimited High School, where she was a freshman.
Ms. Araoz, who was raised in modest means by a single mother in Queens, said she confided to the woman about the recent death of her father from AIDS. They met for about a month before meeting Mr. Epstein in his townhouse, located near her school on the Upper East Side, the lawsuit said.
“Ms. Araoz was a prime target for grooming by a pedophile like Mr. Epstein,” the suit said.
Soon, she was coerced into giving him massages once or twice a week, wearing only her underwear, the lawsuit said.
Mr. Epstein would masturbate and then flatter and reward Ms. Araoz with $300 in cash, saying he wanted to help her, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan. In the fall of 2002, the lawsuit said, he raped her.
She did not go to police after the incident. In an opinion piece for The New York Times on Wednesday, she said she did not tell anyone about the incidents for years because she was intimidated by Mr. Epstein’s insistence that she stay silent.
Ms. Araoz’s lawyers said she had spoken to federal prosecutors who were preparing a case against Mr. Epstein.
His lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.