Woman says Jeffrey Epstein 'forcefully raped' her when she was 15 years old

A New York City woman alleged in a Wednesday interview that Jeffrey Epstein — the politically connected financier who pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking this week — "forcefully raped" her when she was 15 years old.

Jennifer Araoz, now 32, said she met Epstein, 66, as a teenager in New York City in 2001, after a woman approached her outside of her high school and told her about a kind, wealthy man — who Araoz said turned out to be Epstein.

"He raped me, forcefully raped me," Araoz told NBC News in an interview published Wednesday. "I was terrified, and I was telling him to stop. 'Please stop.'"

She added Epstein "knew exactly what he was doing."

Araoz said the first few times she visited Epstein's townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the two talked — and the woman who she met outside her school, who was not identified, tagged along.

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When the woman stopped joining her on visits, Araoz said she and Epstein made their way to the 66-year-old's "favorite room in the house," which featured a massage table and a painting of a naked young woman.

Over the course of the next year during visits to that room, the woman claimed she was manipulated into removing her clothes down to her underwear, and giving Epstein massages that "ended with him pleasuring himself to completion." She said she left each visit with $300.

Eventually, in 2002 when she was 15 years old, Araoz said Epstein raped her. She said she never returned to his home and was traumatized after her encounter with him.

An indictment alleging sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy was unsealed Monday against Epstein. He pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance in federal court in New York City.

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Prosecutors wrote "Epstein intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18."

Epstein allegedly created and maintained a "vast network" and operation from 2002 "up to and including" 2005, enabling him to "sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls" in addition to paying victims to recruit other underage girls.

Epstein, per prosecutors, "worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates" who helped facilitate his conduct by contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters.

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Araoz's account of events that took place in the early 2000s aligns with what federal prosecutors described as Epstein's method of "massages" in his home and being paid hundreds of dollars in cash afterward. It also aligns with accusations that Epstein "incentivized his victims" to become recruiters by paying the victim-recruiters hundreds of dollars for each girl brought to him.

Epstein, who avoided a potentially long sentence more than a decade ago with 13 months in jail following a plea deal with former U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta who currently serves as U.S. Labor Secretary, could face up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Fox News' Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.