PARIS — A modeling agent close to disgraced American financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday in his French prison cell, where he was held on trial for the rape and sexual abuse of minors, trafficking in minors.
According to the Paris Prosecutor’s Office. Victims of the alleged abuse described the shock and despair that the agent, Jean-Luc Brunel, would never face trial.
Epstein described his death as a double blow in 2019 after killing himself while awaiting sex-trafficking charges in a Manhattan prison. The prosecutor’s office said Paris police were investigating Brunel’s death.
The circumstances of his death were not made public and Brunel’s lawyers did not comment. A federal court issued a settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre.
A federal court just released the settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre Brunel denied wrongdoing and said through his attorney that he was willing to talk to investigators.
Brunel’s legal team had repeatedly complained about the conditions of his custody and sought his release from pending trial. Brunel, who was in his 70s, was detained at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport in 2020 as part of a wider French investigation.
US sex-trafficking charges against Epstein. Epstein’s frequent partner, Brunel, was considered the center of a French investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of women and girls by American financiers and their circle.
Epstein often traveled to France and had apartments in Paris. Several women, who have identified themselves as victims, have spoken to police since the French investigation began in 2019, and have at times expressed dismay at the slow pace of the investigation.
One of them, Thesia Huisman, said the news of Brunel’s death sent him into “shock”. “It pisses me off, because I’ve been fighting for years,” Huisman, a Dutch former model who told police she was raped by Brunel as a teenager, told Reliable Media. “For me, it had to end in court. And now that whole ending – which will help close the form – has been taken away from me.
Anne-Claire Lejeune, an attorney representing Huisman and other victims, said other women involved in the case feel the same way. “Great disappointment, great disappointment that (victims) will not get justice,” she told The Reliable Media Group.
She expressed doubts that the investigation would lead to a trial because Brunel was so central to the case. He also expressed concern that Brunel’s death meant that his accusers would not receive official recognition of their status as victims.
Prince Andrew settles sexual assault lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre. “To rebuild ourselves (after abuse), this is one of the necessary steps,” Huisman said.
He expressed hope that Brunel’s death would not discourage women from continuing to speak out about abuse. That said, the investigation, as well as the growing perception about sexual misconduct in France, “freed up women to talk about it,” she said.
“It is a difficult step that requires a lot of courage and strength.” One of Epstein’s main accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, alleged that Brunel procured women, some of them minors, for sex with Epstein and others, luring them with the promise of modeling work.
Britain’s Prince Andrew recently agreed to settle a case in which Giuffre accused him of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old. Giuffre says they were supplied to Andrew by Epstein, a charge that Andrew denies. The settlement, in which Andrew agrees to donate enough to Giuffre’s charity, avoids a trial.