Despite the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein, one woman he reportedly victimized is continuing to seek justice for his actions.
Wednesday morning, accuser Jennifer Araoz filed one of the first lawsuits against Epstein’s estate. The lawsuit includes a longtime Epstein associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, and three unnamed female household staff, according to NBC News.
Just after the official suit was filed on Wednesday morning, Araoz said during a call with reporters, “Today is my first step towards reclaiming my power.”
This move for justice is one of the first lawsuits filed under New York State’s new Child Victims Act (CVA), which went into effect this morning. The rationale for CVAs is simple: Children may not be aware of what constitutes sexual abuse, or even that they were molested, and they deserve legal recourse as adults.
Araoz has alleged that she was sexually assaulted at Epstein’s New York City townhouse when she was 14 and 15 years old, after being recruited outside her high school. She is now 32.
Araoz continued, “Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence, my self-worth. For too long, they escaped accountability. I am here today because I intend to change that.”
NBC News reports, “The landmark law now enables victims of child sex abuse to bring civil cases against alleged abusers for the next 12 months, regardless of when the abuse took place.” This means survivors can come forward to law enforcement decades after a crime occurred seeking restitution. Survivors of abuse will have until the age of 55 to file civil suits.
Many lawyers believe the Child Victims Act will inspire people to come forward to make charges against religious groups and entertainment industry giants, CBS News reports.
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have revised laws on child sex abuse. Changes are planned to take effect this year.
In her final statement to NBC News, Araoz said, “While I am angry that Mr. Epstein’s death means he will never personally answer to me in the court of law, my resolve to pursue justice is only strengthened. My story and my experiences — those who enabled and facilitated his criminal behavior— none of that is diminished or immunized simply because he apparently chose to take his own life.”
Epstein’s lawyers did not respond to NBC’s multiple requests for comment.
This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Andrea Cipriano