A woman who said she was “Victim-1” in the federal indictment against financier Jeffrey Epstein sued the executors of his estate Wednesday, saying he had abused her for three years starting when she was about 14 and struggling financially.
In the lawsuit, the woman, who called herself Jane Doe, offered a graphic account of the abuse she said she had endured at the hands of Epstein, the dire financial straits that made her vulnerable to his initial advances and dependent on him after the abuse began, and details of how two of his female employees had enabled his behaviour.
Epstein’s abuse, the woman said in the suit, left her “forever scarred.”
Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August after being indicted in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors had accused him of recruiting dozens of teenage girls over many years to engage in sex acts at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash.
Epstein’s will, valued at more than $577 million, was filed in the Virgin Islands, where he owned a private island. The executors of his estate, Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, were named as the defendants in the suit filed Wednesday.
A lawyer for Indyke, Marc Agnifilo, declined to comment. Kahn could not be reached for comment.
The criminal charges in New York were similar to those at the heart of a widely criticized 2008 deal between Epstein and federal prosecutors in Florida under which he pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution but was spared a lengthy prison sentence.
Kellen and Groff often asked Doe to bring other girls with her to Epstein’s home. At times, Kellen and Groff directed Doe to bring with her specific girls who Epstein had assaulted before, requesting them by name
Among the many victims described in the New York indictment, prosecutors went into some detail about three, who were identified as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2 and Minor Victim-3.
Minor Victim-1, the indictment said, had been recruited by Epstein to engage in sex acts around 2002, had been repeatedly sexually abused by him over a period of years and had been encouraged to recruit other girls to engage in sex acts for money.
The woman who said she was Victim-1 said in her lawsuit that her circumstances made her an easy target for Epstein.
She said she had a “difficult childhood,” was always worried about money and wanted to do what she could to help a sister with a serious medical condition.
She was about 14, she said, when an older teenage girl from her neighbourhood told her “about an opportunity to earn money and offered to introduce her to a wealthy man.”
That man, the suit said, turned out to be Epstein.
The woman said that her family was going through an especially rough stretch at the time. Her mother and sister were sharing a bedroom and renting the family’s second bedroom to boarders. She was staying with friends and looking for odd jobs, the suit said.
The lawsuit described the woman’s initial trip, accompanied by the girl who recruited her, to Epstein’s mansion on East 71st Street, which she recalled as resembling the castle in “‘Beauty and the Beast,’ one of her favourite Disney movies at the time.”
“Minutes later, Epstein entered the room wearing only a robe,” the suit said. “He introduced himself as ‘Jeffrey,’ and asked Doe her name. Epstein also asked Doe her age, and she responded truthfully. Epstein then removed his robe and laid face down on the massage table.”
That first massage quickly turned sexual, as was typical for Epstein, according to prosecutors. When it was over, the suit said, he “put on a robe and retrieved three hundred-dollar bills from his robe pocket, which he handed to Doe.”
The woman said in the suit that she returned to Epstein’s home “countless times” until she was 17, with the visits becoming more frequent and the abuse becoming more severe.
The woman also said that she had been sexually assaulted by one of Epstein’s employees. And she singled out two of his assistants, Sarah Kellen and Lesley Groff, as having enabled his abuse.
Kellen and Groff are under scrutiny for any role they might have played in recruiting girls for Epstein or managing the logistics of his encounters. Federal prosecutors in New York have said they are continuing their investigation into whether anyone else should be charged as a co-conspirator in the sex trafficking case.
“During scheduling phone calls,” the suit said, “Kellen and Groff often asked Doe to bring other girls with her to Epstein’s home. At times, Kellen and Groff directed Doe to bring with her specific girls who Epstein had assaulted before, requesting them by name.”
Although the woman said that Epstein sometimes paid her directly after abusing her, the woman also said that Kellen or Groff would pay her whenever she brought other girls to Epstein.
In a statement, Michael Bachner, a lawyer for Groff, said of his client: “At no time during Lesley’s employment with Epstein did she ever engage in any misconduct.”
Lawyers who have represented Kellen in other litigation did not respond to requests for comment.