A new accuser says she was raped at age 15 by Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy, jet-setting financier now awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Jennifer Araoz, in an explosive interview with NBC News, says she was a 14-year-old student in 2001 when a young woman approached her outside her Manhattan high school and later lured her to Epstein's nearby mansion.
That began a series of meetings that abruptly ended after Epstein sexually assaulted her during one of their encounters, Araoz said.
"He raped me, forcibly raped me, knew exactly what he was doing," said Araoz, 32, in an interview that aired Wednesday. "What hurts even more so is that if I wasn't afraid to come forward sooner then maybe he wouldn't have done it to other girls.
"I feel really guilty. To this day I feel really guilty."
Epstein lawyer Reid Weingarten did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY on Araoz's claims.
A federal indictment unsealed Monday charged that Epstein "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes" in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, along with other locations. The charges – one count of sex trafficking and one count of sex-trafficking conspiracy – stem from accusations in 2002-2005.
Epstein pleaded not guilty and denies the charges.
The indictment comes 11 years after Epstein avoided what could have been a lengthy prison sentence when he pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for prostitution.
Araoz, a makeup artist living in Queens, was not among the victims involved in those cases. She kept quiet until now, she said, and still grapples with the damage from the encounters. Her lawyers have filed papers in New York state ahead of a possible lawsuit.
The woman who recruited her, Araoz says, chatted with her and then told her there was a very nice man who lived nearby who might help her with her dreams of acting on Broadway. They continued to meet, and then the woman took her to Epstein's house, she said.
The first few times she met Epstein they just talked – and each time he gave her $300 when she left with the woman, she said.
"I thought it was maybe a little odd because I didn't know what he necessarily was getting out of it," said Araoz, who told NBC she could not recall the other woman's name.
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But the first time she went alone, Araoz said, Epstein showed her his massage room, and a series of visits took place during which she said he manipulated her into stripping to her panties and massaging him.
"I felt almost obligated because of the money he was giving me," she said.
After a few visits, he began masturbating before giving her the money, she said. But one day, in the fall of her sophomore year in high school when she was 15, Epstein demanded more, she said.
He sexually assaulted her, then she left and never went back, Araoz told NBC News. She ignored efforts by his associates to contact her, she added. She said she never told authorities because she feared she would get in trouble.
"I was really frightened of Epstein," she told NBC. "He knew a lot of powerful people, and I didn't know what he could do to me, and I wasn't sure that anyone could protect me."
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- Epstein's alleged sex trafficking targets: 'The more vulnerable the better'
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- Opinion: Men with money destroy women and children without
The FBI has urged Epstein victims to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
If you've seen what could be human trafficking or if you need help, the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 is confidential, toll-free and available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Text: “BeFree” (233733). Chat: humantraffickinghotline.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz says she was 15 when 'he forcibly raped me'