Following news of the arrest of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges, another woman has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the billionaire.
Jennifer Araoz, 32, told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie that when she was just 14, an unnamed woman approached her outside her Manhattan high school, a performing arts school called Talent Unlimited. She invited her to visit Epstein’s home, promising that he could help with her career. Araoz agreed.
“I was 14 years old,” Araoz, who describes herself as an “actress/model/singer/makeup artist/painter” on her cached Twitter profile, told NBC News. “What the hell do you know when you’re that young?”
Araoz said that when she arrived at the mansion, she was given wine and a tour of the house, and an Epstein employee handed her $300 in a sealed envelope. She said she met Epstein the first time she visited the house, and he invited her to come back several times afterwards.
A few weeks after their first meeting, she was instructed to give Epstein a massage on his massage table while she was partially nude. “I had just my underwear on. That’s how he liked it,” she said. She was allegedly instructed to give him a massage while he masturbated.
When she was 15, Araoz said, Epstein forced her to have sex with him. “I was terrified, and I was telling him to stop,” Araoz said. Following the alleged rape, she experienced depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, prompting her to drop out of school shortly thereafter. “I thought I was obligated, like that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Araoz said of the alleged nonconsensual sexual encounter with Epstein. She initially did not tell anyone about the encounter, including the police, which she said she now regrets. “If I wasn’t afraid to come forward sooner, then maybe he wouldn’t have done it to other girls,” she said. “I feel really guilty.”
She eventually told her mother, an ex-boyfriend, and two close friends, all of whom confirmed to NBC that Araoz told them about the story years ago. She said she intends to file a civil suit against Epstein, who did not return NBC News’ or Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment.
On Saturday, Epstein was arrested at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport and charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. A federal indictment unsealed on Monday alleges that between 2002 and 2005, Epstein lured “dozens” of young girls and women to his homes in Palm Beach and New York City and sexually abused them. (Araoz is not one of the victims involved in the federal indictment.)
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to both charges and is currently being held at Metropolitan Correctional Facility. He will appear before a judge for a bail hearing on Thursday.
You can watch the Today Show interview with Araoz below.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 10, 2019