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Accuser sues Jeffrey Epstein and details alleged co-conspirators' tactics to lure her: "The trap was set"

Epstein accuser files suit

A new lawsuit filed Wednesday by a New York woman accuses Jeffrey Epstein of sexual abuse and targets Epstein's estate, his alleged "madame," Ghislaine Maxwell, and three unnamed women who worked for Epstein in the early 2000s.

Jennifer Araoz, 32, claims that Jeffrey Epstein raped her in his New York townhouse in 2002 when she was only 14, and is now suing his estate. Epstein died in his Manhattan jail cell early Saturday from an apparent suicide. He was awaiting trial and facing federal charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.

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Ghislaine Maxwell seen Sept. 20, 2013. Getty

"I want my story to hold Epstein to account and also his recruiters, the workers on his payroll who knew what he was doing and the prominent people around him who helped conceal and perpetuate his sex-trafficking scheme," Araoz wrote in a New York Times op-ed Wednesday. "Their hideous actions victimized me and so many young girls like me."

The lawsuit comes on the same day New York's Child Victims Act goes into effect for abuse victims. The new law opens a one-year window for victims to sue over alleged sexual abuse without a time limit on the statute of limitations.

Last month, Araoz went public on NBC News with accusations she was recruited by a young woman outside of her Manhattan high school to give Epstein erotic massages at his townhouse. Araoz said Epstein forcibly raped her during one such massage and she did not return to his home.

Araoz's lawsuit against Epstein's estate names Ghislaine Maxwell and claims that she "provided organization support for Epstein's sex trafficking ring" and that she "conspired with Epstein in the implementation and maintenance of his criminal enterprise."

The lawsuit does not name Epstein's alleged recruiter, who is designated as Jane Doe 1, nor does it name the secretary who is designated as Jane Doe 2, or "the Maid" who worked at the mansion and is designated as Jane Doe 3.

Financier Teenage Girls
This photo shows the Manhattan residence of Jeffrey Epstein on July 8, 2019. Prosecutors said federal agents found "nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls" while searching the mansion. AP

Araoz's lawsuit details allegations of how Epstein and his recruiter — a brunette woman in her 20s — systematically lured Araoz into feeling safe at his home. The suit alleges that she was given tours of his mansion and had meetings in his trophy room with cheese, crackers and wine served by the maid. She was also allegedly given assurances from both Epstein and his recruiter that he was "a big AIDS activist," which made an impression on Araoz, who had lost her father to AIDS.

"When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, [the recruiter] told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially," Araoz wrote in her op-ed. "The trap was set."

Araoz claims that she visited Epstein's home "once or twice a week for the first month" for an hour or two at a time, and was paid $300 by his secretary — and adult woman — for these visits, simply because he "wanted to help her out."

Eventually, the lawsuit alleges Epstein brought Araoz alone into his massage room on the upper floors of the mansion and requested that, "in order to help you with your modeling career, I will need to see your body," before he stripped naked and requested an erotic message. According to Araoz, this action began a year-long process where she would come to Epstein's mansion to give him erotic massages and a maid would leave $300 in a drawer for her to collect at the end of each encounter.

Araoz contends that the secretary would page or email her directly to come to the mansion and, upon arriving, the maid would leave towels and lotions out and order Araoz to get changed in the bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges that Epstein raped Araoz in his massage room on their final encounter and Araoz said she did not return to his home after the alleged crime. Today, Araoz argues that the conduct of Epstein, Maxwell and the three Jane Does "continues to have impact in every aspect of (her) life today."

CBS News' Mola Lenghi spoke with Michelle Licata on Wednesday. She was a teenager in Florida when she said she was also lured with an offer of money to Epstein's estate. That's where she said he sexually violated her.

"Once something like this happens, it lives on you with you forever," Licata explained. "I never wanted him to die. I mean I just wanted him to sit there like I had to sit there — after it happened ... and thinking like, 'Oh my gosh, no one is ever going to love me, I can't be with anybody.'"

Licata continued: "A good 'I'm sorry would just ... would have been good enough. I didn't deserve to like not be a teenage girl anymore."

Lenghi also spoke with Kimberly Lerner, a victim's rights attorney who is one of the lawyers representing Araoz. Lerner said they are targeting Epstein's estate without knowing its true worth.

"I don't even know what his entire estate is worth. I don't think we even know what his assets are," Lerner said. "But we're seeking significant damages because she's incurred significant damages."

Lerner told CBS News that Araoz has gained strength from filing this lawsuit against Epstein and his alleged enablers.

"I think now she's finally strong, she feels like a survivor and she no longer feels like a victim," Lerner said. "But she needs to take the power back and this is part of the way to take the power back from somebody very powerful who hurt her."

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