A day before Jeffrey Epstein, an accused child sex trafficker, was found mysteriously injured in his jail cell, the wealthy financier was served legal documents detailing a woman’s claims that he raped her in his New York City mansion when she was just 15 years old.
The accuser, Jennifer Araoz, plans to sue Epstein next month for claims of sexual assault, battery and rape, which she alleges he started committing when she was a New York high school student in 2001, according to a court filing earlier this month.
But first, Araoz is asking a judge to order Epstein to submit to a deposition, where he can be asked by Araoz’s lawyers the identity of a female “recruiter” who allegedly conspired with him to identify her “as a potential sexual abuse victim” and “facilitated the grooming” of Araoz.
“Upon identification of the recruiter, she will be added as a defendant to” Araoz’s planned suit against Epstein, the filing says. “Further, the recruiter possesses critical evidence of [Araoz’s] sexual assault claims.”
Araoz’s lawyers also are asking the judge to require that Epstein produce records showing who was employed by him from 2000 through 2003, and to turn over logs of “everyone who entered or exited his” Upper East Side townhouse during that same time frame.
A New York City Sheriff’s Office official gave Epstein — a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton — copies of that request and related documents on July 22 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to an affidavit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Epstein, 66, has been held in that federal jail in lower Manhattan since early July, when he was arrested on child sex trafficking charges.
A day after he was given the court documents, Epstein was found injured and semi-conscious on the floor of his cell, with marks on his neck. He then was was put on suicide watch.
Authorities do not know if he tried to commit suicide, staged a suicide attempt, or was assaulted by another inmate at that federal facility, where Epstein was being held in a special unit used to protect prisoners from others in the general population.
Daniel Kaiser, a lawyer for the now 32-year-old Araoz, said, “Jennifer endured unspeakable abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and his enablers, who robbed her of a piece of her childhood.”
“She brought this action to hold those responsible accountable and deliver a simple message: she’s not afraid anymore,” Kaiser said.
Epstein’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Araoz is not one of the women who federal prosecutors have claimed in their pending criminal case were sexually abused as underage girls by Epstein. She shared her allegations in an exclusive interview with NBC News published July 10, the same day she filed her petition in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to that court docket.
Her planned lawsuit is on hold until at least Aug. 14, the date on which a new law, the New York Child Victims Act, will go into effect.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty in the federal criminal case, where he is charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
He is being held without bond due to a judge’s findingthat he could be a danger to underage girls if he were to be released, and a risk of flight, given his vast wealth.
The indictment against Epstein alleges that he sexually abused dozens of girls, some as young as 14 years old, in his Manhattan mansion and in Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.
Epstein is a registered sex offender as a result of pleading guilty in 2008 to state charges filed in Florida related to prostitution involving an underage girl.
In a draft copy of her planned civil lawsuit, Araoz claims that Epstein began sexually abusing her in 2001, when she was just 14.
Araoz, whose father died when she was 12 and who “grew up poor” in Queens, “was a prime target for grooming by a pedophile like Mr. Epstein,” the draft copy of the lawsuit says.
The suit alleges that a “recruiter” approached and befriended her over a period of multiple weeks before introducing her to Epstein.
Over the course of several visits, Epstein plied her with gifts, including a digital camera and hundreds of dollars, and eventually brought her to his massage room, where he pressured her to undress down to her underwear and massage him, court documents claim.
The document also describes in detail Epstein’s opulent mansion, which has been valued at $77 million, and is one of the largest homes in New York City.
Araoz’s planned suit in graphic detail describes the alleged abused by Epstein.
As other women have previously claimed about Epstein, the alleged abuse began with Araoz massaging him, and Epstein then masturbating. Araoz said she was left $300 each time she visited Epstein at his mansion for the massage sessions by a maid.
“These sexual encounters with Epstein, which of course were horribly abusive sexual assaults of a child, became more aggressive and escalated,” the lawsuit says.
The planned suit says that in the fall of 2002, Epstein raped her during one massage session.
“Epstein, after raping Ms. Araoz, told her that ‘she was amazing, that she felt amazing, and that she did nothing wrong,’” the document alleges.