PARIS — A former French modeling agent who was an in depth affiliate of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with rape of minors over the age of 15 and sexual harassment, the Paris prosecutor stated on Saturday.
The affiliate, Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, can also be beneath investigation on suspicion of human trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, in line with the Paris prosecutor, Rémi Heitz.
“He’s suspected of getting dedicated rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment on varied victims, each minors and adults, and particularly of getting organized the transportation and lodging for women and younger girls on behalf of Jeffrey Epstein,” the prosecutor stated.
Mr. Brunel’s lawyer didn’t reply to interview requests. In a press release in October 2019, his lawyer, Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, stated that Mr. Brunel was accessible to reply questions from investigative judges and that he strongly denied the accusations of sexual abuse.
The indictment of Mr. Brunel, who has been positioned in pretrial detention, is a major growth in a broader inquiry that Paris prosecutors opened in August 2019 to uncover potential offenses dedicated both in France or towards French victims overseas in reference to the Epstein scandal.
French legislation criminalizes intercourse between an grownup and a minor beneath the age of 15. A sexual relationship between an grownup and a minor over age 15 is authorized until accusations of sexual abuse will be supported by particular circumstances similar to using coercion.
Mr. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell final 12 months at age 66. He was awaiting trial on costs of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of ladies and younger girls at his mansion in Manhattan, his property in Palm Seaside and different areas. Greater than a decade earlier, he had been convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor and was registered as a intercourse offender.
In 2015, Mr. Brunel denied any involvement within the alleged crimes of Mr. Epstein.
Mr. Brunel was arrested at an airport near Paris on Wednesday. He was beneath no judicial restrictions on the time and was free to journey.
Beginning within the 1970s, Mr. Brunel carved out a profitable profession as a modeling agent in France. He then expanded his profession to the US, the place he met and befriended Mr. Epstein, usually touring and socializing with him earlier than the 2 had a falling out because the sex-trafficking accusations towards the financier emerged.
At the least certainly one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers has stated that Mr. Brunel used his place as a modeling scout to obtain minors for Mr. Epstein, who socialized with politicians, celebrities and Wall Avenue executives. Mr. Epstein owned an condominium in an upscale Parisian neighborhood and traveled recurrently to France.
The French police final 12 months raided the places of work of Karin Fashions, a modeling company that Mr. Brunel as soon as led, and searched Mr. Epstein’s condominium.
In filings in a federal court docket in New York, Virginia Giuffre, certainly one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, stated that Mr. Brunel would provide modeling jobs to ladies — some as younger as 12 — and take them to the US to “farm them out to his mates, particularly Epstein.”
Ms. Giuffre additionally stated that Mr. Epstein sexually trafficked her to Mr. Brunel on “quite a few events and in quite a few locations,” together with the south of France, in line with court docket data.
Thysia Huisman, a former Dutch mannequin who has accused Mr. Brunel of drugging and raping her in Paris in 1991, stated that she reported Mr. Brunel to the French police in September 2019 after they opened their investigation into Mr. Epstein’s dealings.
She was conscious that the statute of limitations for rape instances in France had expired, she stated, however she hoped “to inspire different victims to come back ahead.”
Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting.