While in jail awaiting trial, Jeffrey Epstein was served with legal papers in connection with a pending lawsuit filed by a woman who says Epstein raped her when she was 15 years old, court documents show.
Deputy Sheriff Qin Zhang personally delivered the legal documents to Epstein, the multimillionaire financier accused of sex trafficking, on July 22 at 150 Park Row, the address for the Manhattan Correctional Center where Epstein is being held, the records show.
The papers – a verified petition, order to show cause, exhibits and supporting documents – relate to allegations by Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Epstein of sexual assault, sexual battery and rape. Araoz first spoke out about the case this month in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.
The legal documents were served a day before Epstein was found in his Manhattan jail cell with marks on his neck, sources told CNN. It was not clear to jail officials if the injuries were self-inflicted or the result of an assault, a law enforcement source said.
Araoz’s complaint against Epstein – delivered as a draft – cannot be filed until mid-August, when New York’s Child Victims Act, which has ramifications for Epstein’s case, goes into effect.
The law expands the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases to give survivors more time to seek criminal charges and to sue their abusers. Starting August 14, adult survivors of child sexual abuse will have one year to sue an abuser or a negligent institution for offenses in New York, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.
“Jennifer endured unspeakable abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and his enablers, who robbed her of a piece of her childhood,” Araoz’s attorney Daniel Kasier said in a statement. “She brought this action to hold those responsible accountable and deliver a simple message: she’s not afraid anymore.”
Epstein is being held without bail pending his trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking of minors. He has pleaded not guilty.
The 66-year-old allegedly paid girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Manhattan home and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. Federal prosecutors say he used employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences, and he allegedly paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.
Epstein faced similar accusations in Florida, but his high-powered legal team negotiated a plea deal in 2007 with federal prosecutors in Miami in which he avoided federal charges and pleaded guilty to lesser state prostitution charges.
Epstein’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday regarding the Araoz petition.
The ‘Recruiter,’ the ‘Secretary’ and the ‘Maid’
Araoz claims Epstein repeatedly committed sexual assault and battery on her when she was 14 and 15 years old, including forcibly raping her, the verified petition states.
The document seeks the deposition of Epstein in part to identify another potential defendant in the case – the “Recruiter” – who conspired with Epstein to identify Araoz as a potential sexual abuse victim and facilitated her “grooming” to be sexually assaulted by Epstein, it states. It also asks the judge to require Epstein to produce records identifying his employees between 2000 and 2003 and logs of everyone who entered or exited his New York City home during that period.
A draft complaint targets Epstein, as well as unidentified women called the “Recruiter,” the “Secretary” and the “Maid,” whom it dubs Jane Does 1, 2 and 3.
In the draft complaint, Araoz states she was recruited in New York by a woman who appeared to work for Epstein when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman. Araoz would visit Epstein’s home, after which he would direct his secretary to give her $300, the draft complaint states.
She later started giving him massages wearing only her underwear, the draft complaint says. Those encounters in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion grew more sexual in nature, with Epstein masturbating at the end of the massage, according to the draft complaint.
After about a year, when Araoz was 15, Epstein forcibly raped her without a condom, the document states.
“Araoz was petrified, felt trapped and didn’t know what to do, so she just did as she was told,” the draft complaint states. “Epstein held her tightly and forcibly raped her.”
Araoz explained further her thoughts at the time in her interview with NBC.
“I thought it was my fault, I thought I was obligated. I didn’t know better,” Araoz told NBC.
Araoz never went back to Epstein’s home after that and only told a few people close to her about the incident, she said. She refused to go back to her high school, which was just blocks from Epstein’s home, and transferred to a school in Queens to avoid contact with him and the recruiter, the draft complaint says.
The draft complaint also describes some of the contents of Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion, including a trophy room of taxidermied animals.
“The room had marble floors with extremely high ceilings, mahogany wood with deep reds, and was filled with exotic, even endangered animals, including a giraffe and other rare specimens,” the document states. “There were skins covering parts of the floor with more exotic animals.”
CNN’s Brian Vitagliano contributed to this story.