PARIS – A former French model accused of raping a minor and suspected of tracing young women for disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead in a Paris cell, a spokesman said. of the Paris prosecutor said Saturday, in what appeared to be a suicide.
Jean-Luc Brunel, 75, was found hanged overnight in his cell in La Santé, a prison south of Paris, According to a French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation has been opened. Mr. Brunel’s death is similar to that of Mr. Epstein, who hanged himself in a Manhattan cell in 2019 while awaiting trial.
“His decision was not driven by guilt but by a profound sense of injustice,” his lawyers said in a statement, adding that Mr Brunel had “relentlessly claimed innocent”.
Mr. Brunel was charged with raping a minor over the age of 15 and sexual harassmentand he has been remanded in pre-trial detention in 2020. He is also being investigated for trafficking a minor for sexual exploitation, as part of the investigation. wider French investigation into possible crimes in France related to the Epstein scandal.
His death is the latest in a series of developments in that scandal. This week, Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, settle a lawsuit was brought in by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accused the British royal family of raping her when she was a teenager. In December, Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former companion, was found guilty of conspiring with him to recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
Mr. Brunel had a successful career as a model agent in France in the 1970s, before expanding his portfolio to the United States, where he met and befriended Mr. Epstein. The two often travel together and interact in previous circles fell out when sex-trafficking allegations against Mr. Epstein surfaced.
At least one of Epstein’s accusers has said Mr Brunel used his modeling position to procure minors for Mr Epstein, who owns an apartment in an upscale Paris neighborhood and often travel to France.
In filings in federal court in New York, Miss Giuffre said that Mr. Brunel would provide modeling work for girls – some as young as 12 – and bring them to the United States to “raise them for his friends, especially Epstein.”
But Mr. Brunel has faced accusations of abuse himself. Ms. Giuffre said that Mr. Epstein sexually trafficked her to Mr. Brunel “several times and in many places,” including in the south of France, according to court records.
Thysia Huisman, a former Dutch model, accused Mr. Brunel of drugging and raping her in Paris in 1991. In an interview in 2020, she said one day while she was with him, he I “harassed” her and “sexually commented.”
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She continued, “I think he put something in my drink – 50 minutes later it happened.”
Several claims against Mr. Brunel have been blocked by the statutory term for rape cases, which in France is 20 years. But Ms Thuisman, who is aware of the statute of limitations in her case, said she had hoped to “motivate other victims to continue.”
But Mr. Brunel’s death ended the charges against him.
Anne-Claire Lejeune, a lawyer representing Ms Thuisman as well as other accusers, told French media on Saturday that she was disappointed that she was “not able to get justice, nor the case.” of Epstein’s victims”.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/world/europe/brunel-epstein-prince-andrew-giuffre.html Former stylist and partner Epstein found dead in prison in Paris