London - A make-up artist on Wednesday claimed that Jeffrey Epstein ‘forcefully raped me’ when she was 15 after she was recruited from outside her school.
Jennifer Araoz, 32, alleged the billionaire paedophile forced himself upon her in his £60 million Manhattan mansion even though she told him to ‘please stop’.
Miss Araoz said Epstein lured her by sending a woman to her school a few blocks away from his home and promising he would make her a Broadway star.
The claims by Miss Araoz are significant because she is not one of the three women whose allegations formed the basis of the sex trafficking charges levelled against Epstein earlier this week.
Epstein had been known to use girls as recruiters, but the claim that he sent a woman to loiter outside the gates of a school would – if proved to be true – indicate a new level of audacity.
Miss Araoz claimed: ‘He raped me, forcefully raped me. He knew exactly what he was doing.’
Epstein, 66, who used to be friends with Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, was arrested on Saturday over allegations that could see him jailed for 45 years.
Prosecutors allege that he created a ‘vast network’ of girls between 2002 and 2005 whom he would pay for sex and to recruit others to be abused.
Epstein has denied one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. Miss Araoz spoke out in an interview with US TV network NBC and cried as she told her story.
She said that until she met Epstein she wanted to be an actress and loved attending the The Talent Unlimited High School, a school for the performing arts on Manhattan. Her family were not wealthy, her father had died of Aids when she was 12 and she was a ‘little lost’ when she was 14.
She claimed that in 2001 she met Epstein’s recruiter, an unidentified woman who told her he was a ‘great guy’ and that he would make her a star.
Miss Araoz said she went to Epstein’s home and found him to be ‘very nice’. She claimed he gave her a glass of wine in the kitchen, they talked and he sent her home with $300 [£240].
After that Epstein’s secretary would allegedly call and ask if she was free to see him. She said she went round once or twice a week.
Miss Araoz alleged that after a few weeks Epstein took her into his ‘favourite room’, the massage room, where things turned sexual.
‘At that time I was scared, I didn’t know if he would get angry,’ she said. ‘I just followed. I had just my underwear on because that’s how he liked it. I would give massages.’ She said he would perform a sex act and then give her $300. Miss Araoz added that Epstein was well aware of how old she was but claimed: ‘I don’t think he cared’.
She alleged that when she turned 15 they had a final, brutal, encounter. He allegedly took her to the massage room and told her to ‘take your underwear off’.
Miss Araoz said: ‘I said I didn’t want to. He very forcefully brought me to the table. I did what he told me to do. I was really scared. I didn’t necessarily think he was going to rape me.
‘I don’t want to say I was screaming but I was terrified and I was saying stop, please stop. He had no intention of stopping.
‘That’s what he wanted, that’s what he got. After that day I never went back, I was terrified, I didn’t want that to happen again.’
Miss Araoz said she was so upset by the episode she left her school because it was too close to Epstein’s house. She claimed she had not come forward before now because she was scared of him.
Through tears, Miss Araoz said: ‘What hurts even more so is if I wasn’t afraid to come forward sooner he wouldn’t have done it to other girls. To this day I feel guilty.’
Epstein, who made his fortune in finance, has faced charges before. In 2008, after he was investigated by police in Florida, he managed to get a lenient plea deal. He admitted to state charges of soliciting minors for prostitution and was jailed for 13 months.
That deal came under renewed scrutiny when Alexander Acosta, the US Attorney who oversaw it, was chosen by Donald Trump to become his Labour Secretary.
Separate to that is a defamation case brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre – previously Virginia Roberts – against his former associate Ghislaine Maxwell, the British daughter of late tycoon Robert Maxwell who has been accused of being Epstein’s ‘madam’.
Mrs Giuffre sued in New York because Miss Maxwell said she lied about her abuse. The case was settled and sealed but after applications by the US media a judge has ruled that documents which were part of it must be made public. They include the names of prominent businessmen and politicians.