Fla. girl files sexual assault lawsuit against billionaire


Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 5:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 5:33 p.m.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A teenage girl filed a $50 million lawsuit against a New York billionaire Thursday, saying he sexually abused her when she was 14.

Jeffrey Epstein's attorney, Lilly Ann Sanchez, said the allegations are false and motivated by money.

The girl, now 17 and identified only as Jane Doe, claims Epstein invited her to his Palm Beach mansion in 2005 to perform a massage for $300. She claims he demanded she remove her clothes, then sexually assaulted her, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in West Palm Beach.

"Jane experienced confusion, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and the assault sent her life into a downward spiral," the lawsuit states.

The girl, her father and stepmother are seeking more than $50 million.

"It is our belief that this is completely financially motivated," Sanchez said. She said the girl told Epstein she was 18, and regardless, he did nothing inappropriate with her.

The teen is also at the center of a criminal case against Epstein in Florida, said her lawyer, Jeffrey Herman.

Epstein, 55, is charged with one felony count of solicitation of prostitution. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors declined to charge Epstein with soliciting a minor for sex, as Palm Beach police recommended. The state attorney's office declined to comment about the criminal case.

The teen's father pleaded guilty in 2001 to three federal fraud counts accusing him of arranging fraudulent loans as a mortgage broker in a scheme to collect commissions from sales. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. The Associated Press is not naming the father to protect the girl's identity.

The father, who was also at the news conference, declined to comment on his own criminal case.

"Quite frankly, we're very, very angry," he said, adding that Epstein destroyed his "daughter's innocence."

Epstein, a money manager, also was sued last year in New York by a woman who claims he had sex with her at his Manhattan mansion in 2000 when she was 16.

"I think it's unfortunate that Mr. Epstein doesn't see what he's done to these young people and just look to reach a reasonable settlement with them," said that woman's attorney, William J. Unroch.

Gerald Lefcourt, Epstein's New York attorney, also denied the allegations in the New York case. He also said in court papers that Unroch and his client, who is actually a man living as a female, filed a similar lawsuit in a separate case.

Unroch said that case was settled.

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