Two women sue Jeffrey Epstein's estate for R1.5bn over alleged sex abuse
NEW YORK - Two women who said they were recruited 15 years ago to provide massages to Jeffrey Epstein, only to be later sexually molested by him at his Manhattan mansion, have filed a $100 million (approx R1.5 billion) lawsuit against the financier's estate.
The lawsuit filed on Thursday night in U.S. District Court in Manhattan is at least the second against the estate over Epstein's alleged misconduct, following his Aug. 10 death at age 66 of an apparent suicide.
Lawyers who represented Epstein did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment. The plaintiffs, identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, said they now live in Okinawa, Japan and Baltimore.
Prior to his death, Epstein had pleaded not guilty in July to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls from 2002 and 2005.
Prosecutors said he recruited and paid girls to give him massages, which became sexual in nature. Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. government will continue its investigation into any possible co-conspirators.
Epstein's death deprived his alleged victims of a chance to face him at a criminal trial, leaving civil lawsuits against his estate among their legal options.
It is not known if Epstein had a will. His lawyers last month estimated his assets at about $559 million, including two private islands and four homes, and said his mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side was alone worth $77 million.
Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 said they were aspiring models working at a restaurant off Manhattan's Union Square when they were approached in June 2004 by an unnamed female "recruiter," identified as Sue Roe, who worked for Epstein.
Lisa Bloom, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said in a statement that her clients were 18 and 20 years old at the time, without saying which was which. She did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment.
According to the complaint, Roe offered the plaintiffs hundreds of dollars each to massage Epstein at his Manhattan mansion.
The complaint said Roe told Jane Doe 1 that her "boss" thought Jane Doe 1 was beautiful and liked to give young girls "opportunities," and that Roe "intimated" to Jane Doe 2 that there might be opportunities to make more money.
Both plaintiffs said that despite Roe's assurances that Epstein would not subject them to unwanted touching, his conduct became aggressive during the massages, including that he forcefully touched their breasts and masturbated.
The plaintiffs said they were unaware they were victims of Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking scheme until last month when he was arrested.
Bloom said more plaintiffs will likely join the case.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Araoz, 32, sued Epstein's estate in a New York state court in Manhattan, saying Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14.
That lawsuit was made possible under the Child Victims Act, a New York state law that opened a one-year window to sue over alleged sexual abuse, regardless of when it occurred.
Thursday's lawsuit, in contrast, accused Epstein, Sue Roe and other unnamed alleged accomplices of violating the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
An autopsy of Epstein found that his neck had been broken in several places, two law enforcement sources said.
Epstein had been alone in his cell when he was found hanging there. He had previously been on suicide watch.Reuters