Jean-Luc Brunel, a Jeffrey Epstein accomplice, was discovered dead in a French detention cell.
According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, a modelling agent who was linked to convicted US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was discovered dead on Saturday in his French prison cell, where he was being detained in an investigation into the rape of kids and the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation.
Victims of the alleged abuse expressed amazement and disappointment that the agent, Jean-Luc Brunel, would not be prosecuted. They described Epstein’s death as a double blow since he committed himself in a Manhattan prison in 2019 while facing sex-trafficking charges.
The Paris police are investigating Brunel’s death, according to the prosecutor’s office. Brunel’s attorneys did not comment on the circumstances of his death, which were not made public.
Brunel denied wrongdoing and said he was eager to speak with investigators via his lawyer. Brunel’s legal team has frequently expressed dissatisfaction with his confinement circumstances and demanded his release pending trial.
Brunel, who was in his 70s at the time, was seized at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2020 as part of a wide-ranging French investigation sparked by Epstein’s sex-trafficking accusations in the United States.
Brunel, who was a regular friend of Epstein’s, was a key figure in the French inquiry into the alleged sexual abuse of women and girls by the American billionaire and his associates. Epstein visited France often and lived in Paris.
Since the French inquiry began in 2019, a number of women who identified themselves as victims have talked to authorities and voiced unhappiness with the investigation’s poor pace.
Thysia Huisman, one of them, described the news of Brunel’s death as “shocking.”
“It makes me furious because I’ve been battling for years,” Huisman, a former model from the Netherlands who said she was raped by Brunel when she was a teenager, told The Associated Press. For me, the ultimate result was going to court. And now the whole finale has been ripped away from me, which would have helped me build closure. “
Anne-Claire Lejeune, a lawyer representing Huisman and other victims, said other women involved in the case felt the same way.
She told The Associated Press that she was “disappointed and frustrated that (the victims) won’t receive justice.”
Because Brunel was so essential to the case, she voiced uncertainty that the probe would lead to a trial. She also expressed fear that Brunel’s death might prevent his accusers from receiving formal acknowledgment as victims.
“One of the most important tasks (following abuse) is to rebuild yourself,” Huisman stated.
She expressed the hope that Brunel’s death would not deter women from speaking out against abuse. She said the probe, together with a rising awareness in France about sexual assault, had “freed up women to speak about it.” “It’s a risky move that takes a great deal of bravery and fortitude.”
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s major accusers, claims that Brunel recruited women, some of them minors, for sex with Epstein and others, seducing them with promises of modelling jobs.
Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom recently settled a lawsuit in which Giuffre accused him of sexual assault when she was 17 years old. Guiffre claims that Epstein provided her to Andrew, a claim that Andrew disputes. Andrew agreed to make a significant payment to Giuffre’s organisation as part of the settlement, which avoided a trial.