French model agent and ties to Jeffrey Epstein is found dead in Paris jail
According to the Paris prosecutor, Jeffrey Epstein, a close-knit model agent was found dead in France on Saturday. He was being held as part of an investigation into the trafficking and rape minors.
Paris police are investigating Jean-Luc Brunel’s death at the historic La Santé Prison in Paris, the prosecutor’s office said.
Victims of his alleged abuse described shock and dismay that the 75-year-old — a well-known model scout in the 1980s and 1990s who ran different agencies in Paris and New York — will never face trial. They called it a double tragedy after Epstein, who was in Manhattan jail on sex-trafficking allegations, committed suicide.
Brunel’s lawyers suggested that Brunel had also killed himself, according to his lawyers. His lawyers described his “distress” at being imprisoned and his repeated requests for a provisional escape from prison in a statement.
“Jean-Luc Brunel never stopped declaring that he was innocent,” they stated. “His decision was not guided solely by guilt, but by a profound sentiment of injustice.
The lawyers refused to comment on the incident further and it was not clear if suicide prevention measures were in place at the jail.
Brunel was detained at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, 2020 as part a French probe into the U.S. sex trafficking charges against Epstein.
Brunel, a frequent companion of Epstein was crucial to the French investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation by a U.S. financier circle and his circle of women. Epstein often traveled to France, and he had Paris apartments.
Virginia Giuffre, Epstein’s main accuser, claims that Brunel obtained women, some minors, to have sex and lure them with promises of modeling work.
Closure “taken away” from accusers
Since the French probe started in 2019, multiple victims identified themselves to police. At times, they voiced frustration at the slow pace of the investigation.
ThysiaHuisman, one of them, said Saturday that Brunel’s death had sent her into shock.
Huisman, a former Dutch model, said that she was raped and drugged by Brunel when she was a teenager. “For me, the ending of this was to take place in court. And now that whole ending — which would help form closure — is taken away from me.”
Anne-Claire Le Jeune, a lawyer representing Huisman and other accusers, said other women involved in the case feel the same.
“Great disappointment, great frustration [the victims] won’t get justice,” she told the AP.
Brunel was so integral to the case that she questioned whether the investigation would result in a trial. She expressed concerns that Brunel’s suicide will mean that his accusers will not be officially recognized as victims.
“To rebuild yourself [after abuse], that is one of the essential steps,” Huisman said.
She expressed hope Brunel’s passing wouldn’t deter women from speaking out about abuse. She said that the investigation and a growing awareness of sexual misconduct in France has “freed up women for talking about it.” “It is a difficult step that requires courage and strength.
“Fight for justice and truth goes on”
Brunel was also named in U.S. court filings. Brunel’s death was not confirmed by the spokesperson for Epstein’s New York prosecutors.
According to Giuffre’s lawyer, Sigrid Mccawley, Brunel’s news of her death was devastating for Giuffre and other victims.
Giuffre herself tweeted: “The suicide of JeanLuc Brunel who abused me, and countless young girls, ends another chapter. Although I regret that I was not able face him at the final trial to hold him responsible, I am happy that I was able testify in person last January to keep him in jail.
McCawley claimed Brunel’s suicide did not end the quest for justice.
“For women who have stood up to demand accountability from law enforcement around world, it’s not about how these men died. It is how they lived and what they did to the lives of so many. The fight to seek truth and justice goes on,” she said.
Britain’s Prince Andrew agreed to settle a case where Giuffre claimed he had sexually abused her when she was 17. Giuffre claims she was lied to by Andrew about Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse. Andrew denies the charges. Andrew settled with Giuffre and agreed to make Giuffre a substantial donation.