Today, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims filed the first post-suicide lawsuit targeting his sex-trafficking enablers, including the elusive Ghislaine Maxwell. Araoz filed the lawsuit in addition to the suit she began last month against Epstein himself for sexual abuse:
A new front in the Jeffrey Epstein case opened Wednesday morning, as Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz filed a lawsuit against his estate, his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed female household staff.
Araoz alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Epstein at his New York City townhouse when she was 14 and 15 years old, including a forcible rape in 2002. She first disclosed her alleged abuse publicly in an exclusive TODAY Show interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on July 10, the same day she filed papers in New York state court saying she intended to sue Epstein.
The complaint Araoz filed Wednesday alleges Maxwell and the other staffers “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff.”
The other staffers may well be equally guilty, but they may not be equally wealthy. Maxwell has the kind of wealth that makes this effort worthwhile for victims. Her father’s wealth is estimated at nearly two billion dollars; hers is considerably short of that, but perhaps in the same range as Epstein himself. The problem is that Maxwell isn’t around to answer lawsuits, and Epstein reportedly took the cheap way out. (Araoz has amended her July lawsuit to go after Epstein’s estate.)
It’s not the first time that Maxwell has found herself in the civil hot seat over sex trafficking. She coughed up “millions” to settle a lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, although that was ostensibly over defamation after Maxwell publicly called her a “liar.” Maxwell and Epstein settled another lawsuit last year from Sarah Ransome, another of Epstein’s victims, over sex trafficking and intimidation, with the settlement amount undisclosed but likely not terribly low.
Of course, Araoz and other plaintiffs don’t need Maxwell herself to be present, although they’d dearly love to see that. They can go after her assets and force Maxwell to present a defense, assuming of course that Maxwell hasn’t hidden or sheltered her assets as well as she’s done with herself. Right now, Maxwell has bigger issues than lawsuits on her mind. With Epstein having checked out of the picture (one way or another), she’s now the biggest possible target for criminal investigators and prosecutors looking to hold someone responsible for decades of depravity and exploitation of underage girls. If Maxwell is smart, she’ll be anywhere not reachable by a US extradition request. (She may not be that smart, if the Daily Mail’s sources are accurate.)
Araoz explains her decision in today’s New York Times to press forward with her civil claims, not just against Epstein’s estate but also against his “adult enablers.” Without them, Epstein could never have succeeded in the scope of his predation, Araoz convincingly argues:
The power structure was stacked against me. His money, influence and connections to important people made me want to hide and stay silent. Those same powerful forces let him hide and evade justice.
That changes, starting now. 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. Their hideous actions victimized me and so many young girls like me. …
Standing up to the entrenched network of power and wealth that surrounded Epstein is scary, but I am no longer afraid. Reliving these experiences is tough, but I’ve learned to be tougher.
I used to feel alone, walking into his mansion with the cameras pointing at me, but now I have the power of the law on my side. I will be seen. I will be heard. I will demand justice.
So will others, especially now that Epstein’s dead and his “power structure” is on the run. Or at least the part of it that we know about at the moment. When other victims start adding some high-profile male names to this “power structure” in court documents, we’ll see how well the justice system works.