"He raped me, forcefully raped me," Araoz told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview. "He knew exactly what he was doing."
The 66-year-old was arrested over the weekend and arraigned on Monday on two sex-trafficking-related charges in a New York federal court. Prosecutors say Epstein ran a sex-trafficking ring and sexually abused dozens of underage girls for years. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.
On Wednesday morning, Araoz, now 32, told NBC’s Today show that when she was 14, a woman approached her outside of her Upper East Side performing arts high school. Araoz, who grew up in Queens, NY, and dreamed of becoming a Broadway actress, said the woman told her about Epstein, saying he was a wealthy man who wanted to help people and had already helped her and her family. The woman visited her multiple times, sometimes buying her lunch or a soda, before Araoz eventually followed her to Epstein’s opulent townhouse just blocks from the school.
Once there, Araoz said the staff offered her wine and cheese. Then, she said she met and talked with Epstein, who she said was friendly and sympathised with her about her father's death of AIDS when she was 12. Araoz said the woman brought her back several more times, and each time she left with $300, which she said was a big help to her at the time. She said she visited the billionaire’s home once or twice a week her freshman year of high school, and Epstein would talk to her about helping her with her career and donating money to AIDS charities.
"He knew very well my age. He knew exactly who he was hanging out with. I don’t think he cared," Araoz said.
Araoz said Epstein eventually invited her into his massage room and asked her to massage him while wearing only her underwear. At one point he allegedly began asking her to rub his nipples and masturbating in front of her, Araoz said. And then, soon after she turned 15 in the fall of 2002, she said Epstein pressured her to go further. He asked her to get on top of him, and she said no. Eventually, she said he forced her to.
"I was terrified, and I was telling him to stop. 'Please stop,'" Araoz said. "He had no intention of stopping." She said she left the house shaken and developed crippling anxiety over the following years.
Following the alleged rape, Araoz said she never went back to Epstein’s house and left school soon after because of its proximity to his home. She said Epstein’s staff continued reaching out for over a year, but she never responded. Araoz said she never reported the alleged rape to the police, but she did tell at least four people about her alleged experiences with Epstein years later: her mother, her boyfriend at the time, and two close friends.
The federal indictment against the well-connected financier was unsealed on Monday, and includes three unidentified accusers. The indictment alleges that between 2002 to 2005, Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of minors at his New York City and Palm Beach, FL, homes "by enticing them to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money," and employed others to "ensure that he had a steady supply of minor victims to abuse."
Araoz is now a makeup artist living in Queens, and said she still suffers from the trauma of the alleged abuse. "He took something from me that can never be repaired, never made whole," she said.
She now seeks financial restitution. On Wednesday, Araoz's attorneys filed papers in New York state court attempting to gather more information from Epstein before filing a civil complaint against him, according to NBC News.
Refinery29 has reached out to Jennifer Araoz's and Jeffrey Epstein's legal teams for comment and will update this story if we hear back.