White House Officials See Epstein Child Rape Silver Lining: Sh*tcanning Rivals, Terrific!
This morning, on NBC's Today, another Epstein survivor came forward to tell her story. Jennifer Araoz describes being recruited outside her high school at the age of 14, weekly visits to Jeffrey Epstein's mansion for "massages," and finally being raped at the age of 15, after which she dropped out of her elite performing arts high school to avoid Epstein's Upper East Side neighborhood. If there was ever a story that required a trigger warning, this is it.
In 2001, Araoz was high school freshman from Queens whose father had died of AIDS and whose mother struggled to make ends meet. She was a pretty girl, without a lot of resources, in a neighborhood far from home. She was an easy target for the woman who chatted her up outside the school and began bringing her to meet with Epstein at his nearby mansion.
"I was kind of a lost kid and she sensed it," Araoz told Savannah Guthrie of the skinny brunette who picked her up outside her school. Epstein, then 48 years old, was perfectly aware that Araoz was 14: "He knew exactly who he was hanging out with," she said. "I don't think he cared." In fact, he played upon her vulnerabilities, promising donations to AIDS charities and help with her acting career, and telling her that "I should be a model and all these things that young girls like to hear."
Araoz says the social visits, which always ended with a "gift" of $300, soon gave way to "massages" in her underwear, which ended with Epstein masturbating. This is the behavior that Epstein's lawyer defended as "not rape" because there was "no penetration." Except then there was. Because one day, he said, "Why don't we try something a little bit different?" After which, Araoz alleges, he raped her without a condom. She left that day and never came back, despite Epstein's procurers reaching out to her for an entire year. NBC reports:
After it was over, Araoz said, she rushed out of the house angry and shaken. Her life unraveled over the next few months. She developed crippling anxiety. She suffered panic attacks. She dropped out of school to avoid having to return to his neighborhood – and eventually gave up on her dream of becoming an actress.
You can watch the whole, sad video here.
Araoz told no one initially, but later reported the incident to friends and family who corroborated her story. Moreover, her account is full of lurid details that bolster her claim of having been inside Epstein's house on multiple occasions. If Epstein is, in fact, the serial predator described in court filings -- he only pleaded to one count of solicitation in Florida, thanks to then-US Attorney Alex Acosta -- then there are many other victims out there who will confirm that he escorted them upstairs, past the bathtub with "prosthetic breasts" for him to play with while bathing (OMG, WTF???) and into an oval-shaped blue room with a massage table and portrait of a naked young woman, after which they were paid cash by secretaries on the first floor. Twenty years ago, he might have been able to count on social stigma to silence these girls, but that was then, and this is now.
Speaking of stuff that was never okay, and is even MORE NOT OKAY NOW, last night the New York Times had a story about the time in 1992 that Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein threw themselves a private party at Mar-a-Lago and invited 28 modeling contestants.
"I arranged to have some contestants fly in," [promoter George] Houraney recalled in an interview on Monday. "At the very first party, I said, 'Who's coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.' It was him and Epstein."
Mr. Houraney, who had just partnered with Mr. Trump to host events at his casinos, said he was surprised. "I said, 'Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You're telling me it's you and Epstein?'"
HAW HAW. Vanity Fair reports that Trump was similarly concerned with the well-being of Epstein's victims in the run-up to the election when he met with his fixer David Pecker from the National Enquirer to plot stories about Bill Clinton and Epstein, implying that the former president had engaged in sex with minors. Because he really cares about child welfare.
Meanwhile, at the White House, Mick Mulvaney, that champion of women, has spotted a chance to take out a potential rival. Politico reports that the acting White House chief of staff has long been frustrated with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's sluggishness in "stamping out Obama-era workplace regulations and employment discrimination lawsuits." Sure Acosta oversaw a sweetheart deal in 2007 that let Epstein off for molesting dozens of teenage girls with a slap on the wrist, but his real sin is allowing women and minorities to sue Oracle for pay discrimination. This aggression will not stand, man!
Acosta is holding a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Eastern to answer questions about the non-prosecution agreement he oversaw as US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, allowing Epstein to plead down to one count of soliciting a 16-year-old girl to prostitution and violating the rights of the multiple teenage accusers by keeping them in the dark about the deal. He's reportedly planning to wow the president by pulling a "Kavanaugh 2.0".
Will his ploy to save his job by shouting, "I LIKE GIRLS! DON'T YOU LIKE GIRLS?" pay off? Will Lindsey Graham swoop in to throw a hissy fit and save the Senate from another bruising confirmation battle to shove through whatever wife-beating, pedo-protecting villain Trump comes up with next?
Spoiler Alert: Mick Mulvaney will have his office cleaned out by a quarter to three.
On a more serious note, if you or someone you know has information about Epstein, please call the FBI tip line.
TIME'S. FUCKING. UP.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.