An actress has come forward to say that she alerted police to Jeffrey Epstein’s behavior over two decades ago — and now claims police are lying when they say it was her decision not to press charges.
Alicia Arden told the Associated Press that she went to police in Santa Monica, California, in 1997 after Epstein allegedly groped her during what she thought was an audition for the Victoria’s Secret catalog. She reportedly said that she sent her modeling portfolio to Epstein in New York after being advised by a friend that he could help her get a spot in the catalog. His secretary then arranged for the two to meet at a beachside hotel, presumably in Santa Monica.
According to the report, Epstein was critical of Arden’s physique and allegedly asked her to come closer to he could assess her figure. He also allegedly asked her to undress, and removed or partially removed some of her clothing, saying: “Let me manhandle you for a second.” Arden, who was 27 at the time, reportedly said in her police complaint and in an interview with the Associated Press that Epstein fondled her backside.
Arden also told the Associated Press that as she was leaving, which she chose to do immediately after Epstein allegedly groped her, her offered her a $100 bill. Initially she refused, but Epstein followed her to her car and she then accepted the money because she needed it for gas.
Arden claims that the police never followed up on the complaint, even though she went back to the police station a week later to reinforce her concerns; the Associated Press confirmed she did visit twice. Arden now says that she sees the incident as a missed chance to intervene and possibly prevent future abuses.
“If they would have taken me more seriously than they did, it could have helped all these girls,” Arden reportedly said. “It could have been stopped.”
The Associated Press filed a public records request about the incident, and the Santa Monica police agreed to share a summary of a detective’s notes about the complaint. The notes reportedly showed that police did interview Epstein, but that he gave an account that conflicted with Arden’s.
The notes also say that Arden did not wish to press charges — but the actress has denied this.
In response to a request for further information from the Associated Press, a police spokesperson issued a statement standing by the claim that Arden did not want to pursue charges against Epstein.
“If the victim tells the detective they do not wish to prosecute, then the detective will close the case,” the statement reportedly reads. “In this case, the victim advised the detective she did not wish to prosecute so there was no point in presenting it to the City Attorney for review.”
The police spokesperson did not provide further details, requested by the Associated Press, about how Epstein’s account allegedly conflicted with Arden’s.
“The fact that they didn’t do anything, and they discredited me, is just a stab to my heart,” Arden told the news service.
Epstein died on August 10 in a Manhattan federal jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The city medical examiner said on Friday that the cause of death was suicide by hanging.
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[Feature image: Alicia Arden/AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File]