January 24, 2008 / 11:20 PM / in 10 years

Girl sues NY financier for $50 mln over sex charge

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida teenager sued billionaire New York financier Jeffrey Epstein for $50 million on Thursday, alleging he sexually assaulted her at his Palm Beach estate when she was 14 years old.

The lawsuit alleged the child, who is now 17, was lured to Epstein’s mansion in 2005 under the guise of giving him a massage.

Epstein’s lawyer Lilly Ann Sanchez said the allegations were over three years old and had been fully investigated.

“We are dismayed, but not surprised, about the filing of the lawsuit. The lawsuit confirms what we have always believed, that the allegations are driven by financial motivation,” she said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in West Palm Beach, alleged that Epstein had “a sexual preference and obsession for underage minor girls.”

Jeffrey Herman, the girl’s lawyer, said the assault followed a pattern. Using a Palm Beach student as a recruiter, the financier lured “economically disadvantaged underage girls” to give Epstein massages, at $200 to $300 per session, in a bedroom at his mansion where he would disrobe and tell the girls to do so too, he said.

“He would commit various acts. He masturbated. He took out a vibrator which he would use on these girls,” Herman said.

As a result of her encounter with Epstein, the girl, referred to in the lawsuit as “Jane Doe” to protect her identity, experienced “confusion, shame, humiliation, embarrassment and the assault that sent her life into a downward spiral,” the complaint said.

Epstein’s lawyer Sanchez said she believed the girl had told police under oath that she had told Epstein she was 18.

Reporting by Jim Loney, Editing by Michael Christie and David Storey

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