Friday, 13 Dec 2019

Jeffrey Epstein: Accuser sues Ghislaine Maxwell and three staff members

A woman who accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexual misconduct has sued his estate, former associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed staff members who worked for the financier, according to a court filing.

Jennifer Araoz, the plaintiff, filed the lawsuit in a New York state court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old said in her suit that she had just begun high school when an associate of Epstein’s approached her and brought her to his Manhattan mansion, the start of a grooming process that led to months of sexual abuse.

A number of women who claim they were sexually abused by Epstein – who was found dead in prison on Saturday – are expected to sue the disgraced financier’s estate after a new law making it easier to file civil lawsuits over sexual abuse came into effect.

His suspected suicide has further shone the spotlight on his rich and famous former associates, including Ms Maxwell.

Ms Araoz’s suit also targets the 57-year-old, claiming that Ms Maxwell facilitated Epstein’s abuse of several girls by overseeing their recruitment and “ensuring that approximately three girls a day were made available to him for his sexual pleasure”, according to court documents.

Ms Maxwell, a former girlfriend of Epstein, has denied any wrongdoing.

Epstein was awaiting trial over sex trafficking charges involving dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005.

It is not known if he had a will.

A document filed by Epstein’s lawyers last month put his total assets at $579m, including two private islands and four homes.

One of them, one the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is worth an estimated $77m.

Epstein took his own life whilst at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre

Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom has said she hopes the estate will not be sold off until alleged victims’ claims were resolved and that she would seek a court order to prevent that if necessary.

To obtain damages, alleged victims need to prove their claims only by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal case.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the two guards assigned to watch Epstein on the night he died have been suspended.

The warden at the federal prison where he was being held has also been reassigned.

US media reports say that the two staff members who were supposed to be checking Epstein every 30 minutes fell asleep, and then falsified the log to cover up their mistake – something which may constitute a federal crime.

Prison officials told The New York Times that Epstein had not been checked on for three hours before he was found.

More follows…

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