Two days after billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was indicted on two counts of sex trafficking, a 32-year-old woman, who says she was recruited to give Epstein massages as a high school teenager, alleges that Epstein raped her when she was 15 years old.
Jennifer Araoz told her story to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show Wednesday morning. Araoz had dreams of becoming a Broadway actress and was attending a performing arts school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan; she says during her freshman year, she met a woman outside the school who seemed very friendly. Eventually she would introduce her to Epstein. The very first time she met Epstein in his apartment, Araoz was given $300 and was invited back several times.
At first, Araoz said she would visit Epstein’s apartment (which was a few blocks from her high school) with the other woman. Epstein allegedly offered to help Araoz with her career and donate to AIDS charities (Araoz’s father had died of AIDS just few years before). The first time Araoz came to Epstein’s house alone, Epstein led her into the massage room and was asked to massage his back. She was 14 years old at the time. Araoz says she didn’t feel comfortable saying no. Per NBC News:
“I felt almost obligated because of the money he was giving me,” she said.
“I didn’t know if he would get angry or if I didn’t listen what the repercussions would have been,” Araoz added. “So I kind of just followed. I was so young, so I didn’t know better.”
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Araoz says she usually kept her underwear on when she massaged Epstein, but that when she was 15, Epstein told her to remove it and then raped her. Araoz now plans to file a civil lawsuit. Asked what she would say to those who will say she is after Epstein’s money, Araoz said: “He hurt me badly. I prefer not to go through this.”