It’s been more than two decades since Alicia Arden first accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexually battering her at a Santa Monica hotel. On Monday, a year since Epstein was first arrested, Arden and attorney Gloria Allred demanded the Santa Monica Police Department investigate why no action was taken when a police report was filed in 1997.
Allred represents 16 clients who alleged they are victims of Epstein’s sexual abuse; and Arden, who detailed her encounter with Epstein during a news conference Monday, is one of the few who has come forth publicly.
“After the police report was filed, Ms. Arden was never contacted by the police or by any prosecutor. Had Jeffrey Epstein been investigated and had he been prosecuted and convicted, perhaps countless victims would have been spared from the sexual assaults and rapes that they were forced to suffer,” Allred said during the conference, where she mentioned the fact that Arden may be the first victim of Epstein who has written evidence proving they filed a police report alleging sexual abuse. “It took courage for Alicia to file, but then it appears that law enforcement failed to pursue it.”
While working as a model in the 1990s, Arden connected with the famed financier through a friend, who had been offered a chance to work for Victoria Secret by Epstein. After sending her headshots and portfolio to Epstein, Arden said Monday, “He loved them,” and called her directly after receiving the pictures.
“A few days later, Epstein’s assistant, whose name was Kimberly, called me and said Epstein was at the Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica, California. She said that I could meet with Epstein in the afternoon or evening,” Arden said, detailing how she chose the afternoon because she believed it would be safer for her. “I knocked on his door at Shutters and I went into his hotel room.”
Epstein asked why she didn’t look like the photographs, “and he told me that he wanted to see my body up close. He had me come a little closer to him and he started touching my hips, my buttocks and he lifted up my shirt,” Arden added. “I was in a skirt and he was touching my bare skin. I started to feel scared and began to cry,” which was an action she would repeat again at the podium Monday.
“He said, ‘Let me manhandle you,’” Arden recounted, stating how she will never forget what was said because it was a statement she hasn’t heard before or since the encounter at the hotel.
As Arden was crying, Epstein’s phone rang, “and he said to the person on the phone, ‘I have this beautiful girl in front of me and she’s very upset.’ At that point, my skirt was coming down and he was pulling my (shirt) over my head,” but Arden managed to slip her clothes on while Epstein was distracted on the phone, she said.
“I grabbed my portfolio and then I prepared to leave the room. And as I did, he put $100 on the table. I said, ‘Jeffrey I’m not a prostitute. I want to be in a Victoria’s Secret catalog,’ and he responded, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ So I left the money on the table,” Arden said Monday.
After calling a friend and leaving a message of her encounter, the then-college scholar headed to valet parking.
“I soon realized Epstein had followed me from the hotel room to valet parking. He handed me the money again,” which she ended up taking, Arden said as she explained her reasons. But feeling violated and mistreated, she opted to head to Santa Monica’s police station immediately after the incident to file a report.
“Officers told me that I was very pretty. They said that I went up to the hotel room — willingly, and I intimidate men because of my appearance,” Arden said, now sobbing on-camera. “I told police that I did not ask or give permission to be touched or to have Epstein start taking my clothes off. I thought I was going to a legitimate audition for Victoria’s Secret, and he took advantage of me.”
After being told, “I should think before doing anything,” Arden said, she was upset with the police and their refusal to take her complaint seriously. “I felt violated all over again,” and continued to think about the visit.
A week later, Arden returned to the SMPD station and insisted she file a formal report. The process would take more than two-and-a-half hours, but she never received a callback. All the while Epstein is traveling across the country for work.
“I feared that he could make appointments in other places, and abuse other women like he abused me,” Arden said. “There was never any follow-up,” and it seemed like the complaint was ignored.
Allred said Monday she is sending letters to SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud and Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey because her client would like to know what happened.
“Was there an investigation? Was there not an investigation,” Allred said. “I don’t think Alicia should have to live with the unanswered questions. … Why was it apparently disregarded? Did they interview Mr. Epstein? Did he decline to be interviewed? Did they take his words against hers? Or did they not do anything?”
Allred added, “We have a right to know.”