Another woman stepped forward Wednesday with allegations against accused sex predator Jeffrey Epstein, saying the billionaire financier raped her when she was 15 after his associates “recruited” her with the promise of career help.
“I just thought, it’s my fault,” Jennifer Araoz said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “Like, I was, like, obligated. Like, that’s just what we were supposed to do.”
Araoz said that in 2001, when she was 14, she met by a “recruiter” outside of her New York City performing arts high school who said Epstein could help her with her aspiration to become an actress.
“I was 14 years old,” she said. “What the hell do you know?”
Epstein was charged Monday in an indictment alleging child sex trafficking that involved dozens of girls, some as young as 14. Araoz is not part of the case.
Araoz said Epstein immediately struck her as such as “very odd.” For example, she said, he had “prosthetic breasts that he could play with while he was taking a bath.”
The first visits to his home just involved conversations, she said. But they later escalated to physical contact, including massaging him and rubbing his nipples. Araoz said she was afraid to resist his requests out of fear.
“I was scared because I didn’t know if he would get angry,” she said.
Araoz believes that Epstein knew that she was underage.
“He knew very well my age,” she said. “He knew exactly who he was hanging out with.”
In 2002, when she was 15, Epstein raped her, Araoz said.
“After that day, I never went back,” she said.
She said she didn’t know at the time that what happened constituted rape. She now regrets not telling the police or speaking out earlier because “then maybe he wouldn’t have done it to other girls,” she said.
“I was so young that I was worried that somehow I would get in trouble,” Araoz said, explaining why she didn’t contact authorities at the time. “I was really frightened of Epstein. He knew a lot of powerful people and I didn’t know what he could do to me, and I wasn’t sure that anyone could protect me.”
Epstein’s attorneys did not respond to multiple requests for comment, the “Today” show said.
Epstein’s arrest has renewed scrutiny of his ties to powerful men, including President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, and a lenient 2008 plea deal that allowed Epstein to escape harsh punishment for sex crimes.
Trump’s labor secretary Alex Acosta faces growing pressure to resign over his role in brokering the plea deal as the U.S. attorney in Miami.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.