Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Files Lawsuit Against His Estate
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
We begin this hour with the words of one of the women who has accused financier Jeffrey Epstein of raping her.
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JENNIFER ARAOZ: I am here because today is my first step towards reclaiming my power. Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence and my self-worth.
KELLY: That is 32-year-old Jennifer Araoz speaking on a conference call this morning. She says she was 14 when one of Epstein's recruiters approached her at her performing arts high school in New York. That woman told Araoz that Epstein could help her make industry connections and help her family, which was struggling financially. The trap, she writes, was set. She was writing in an opinion piece published today in The New York Times. In it, Araoz describes how she was drawn into Epstein's world, how she visited him at his home once or twice a week, how she ended the relationship after Epstein raped her. Araoz says for years, she did not talk about what happened. She is talking now, and she has filed a lawsuit. Her attorney Dan Kaiser joins me.
Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
DAN KAISER: Good to be here.
KELLY: Would you please take us briefly through your case and what evidence you will introduce to support it.
KAISER: Sure. It's not a coincidence she filed the case today because the Child Victims Act - this new law that was passed in New York state - permits victims of sexual abuse, when the victim was a minor, to file their claims within the next year period, even if the claims were previously time-barred. This new law gives her an opportunity to seek a measure of justice for herself and not just against Mr. Epstein - well, his estate, of course, at this point - but some of the enablers around him, some of the adults who helped to perpetuate the sex trafficking scheme. And that's what it was - so from the recruiters who recruited her to the secretaries who made the appointments and reached out to her to schedule times for her to visit the mansion all the way up through Ms. Maxwell, who was one of the principal co-conspirators in this sordid affair.
KELLY: This is a former girlfriend of Mr. Epstein's who then worked for him and was helping running his household staff.
KAISER: Running his household safe but - for all purposes; more particularly, helping to run his sex-trafficking scheme. And she was involved in the securing of girls for him. She was involved in the securing of recruiters who, in turn, went out and recruited girls for him, so she was a principal player in this whole thing. And that's why we've named her as an individual defendant.
KELLY: Did she ever meet her?
KAISER: Never met her that she can recall because, again, she's just going back 15 years. But the maintaining of the sex-trafficking ring, helping to conceal it hurt her. Because the scheme was perpetuated, there were lots of girls who may never have met Ms. Maxwell but were victimized at least in part by her conduct.
KELLY: Are you confident his assets are recoverable? It would be surprising if a man of his means didn't have a whole army of accountants and lawyers finding ways to shelter his money.
KAISER: And he probably did over the years try to do that, but we know that there are hard assets that are - have already been identified. But the feds were prepared to seize them in a forfeiture action - the New York City mansion, the Florida mansion, place he has in New Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands. I mean, those are very, very valuable real estate assets that can be made available to his victims to satisfy judgements they may get one day. Now that he's dead, there's got to be a probate of something. I mean, if he had a will, that has to be probated. If - even if he didn't - and so...
KAISER: You know, we're confident that there'll be money there to satisfy judgments.
KELLY: Back to Ghislaine Maxwell, who you name in this suit - you can't depose her if you can't find her. Do you know where she is?
KAISER: We don't. We are trying to determine the answer to that question, you know, through our investigative efforts.
KELLY: So you don't know if she's in the United States or what country she's in.
KAISER: No. No, we don't. We've reached out to her attorneys to see if they would accept service of process of the complaint. They never responded. And, you know, the federal authorities may be looking for her - probably are. And even if she's not in the United States, it doesn't mean that she's not subject to serve as a process for a lawsuit that names her in the United States.
KELLY: What about others who, as yet, you have not named in your suit? Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with a lot of powerful men. Some names have come to light. Do you plan to go after any of them?
KAISER: Well, maybe. The powerful men that surrounded him were not just participants in the ring - for example, men who may have - young girls may have been trafficked to by Jeffrey Epstein. But by their participation, they also enabled him. He surrounded himself with that power and wealth, brought them into his scheme because he knew that was an additional way to protect himself in his criminal enterprise by implicating other people in it. So, I mean, this was Jeffrey Epstein, in a very calculating way, trying to protect himself and protect the whole enterprise he was engaged in.
KELLY: I wonder, if I may ask - on the day that she and you have filed this lawsuit, how is she doing? How's she feeling?
KAISER: She's feeling - when she heard the news, she was angry, frustrated, a little bit relieved.
KELLY: Heard the news of his death.
KAISER: Of his death - I mean, only that she was scared of him. She - wasn't going to stop her from going forward. But...
KELLY: She was still scared although she hadn't seen him in more than a decade.
KAISER: Yeah. It's - he instilled fear of people, but she's committed. I mean, she's - more, she was angry and frustrated that he wouldn't be criminally prosecuted. That bothered her. But (inaudible) forward, you know, not only against her estate but against other individuals who have shared culpability with him.
KELLY: Dan Kaiser - he's a lawyer representing Jennifer Araoz, one of the women who has accused Jeffrey Epstein of raping and abusing her.
Mr. Kaiser, thank you.
KAISER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.