A French modeling agent and former associate of dead sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested by French police at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Wednesday on suspicion of rape, sexual assault, and human trafficking, several media outlets reported Thursday.
Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, the founder of the agencies Karin Models and MC2 Model Management, has long been suspected of supplying the late Epstein with underage girls for his alleged human trafficking network. Epstein died in a New York City federal prison during the summer of 2019. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging.
Prosecutors in Paris confirmed that Brunel had been arrested after attempting to board a flight to Dakar in Senegal and was in custody for “rape, sexual assault against minors, sexual harassment, criminal conspiracy and trafficking in human beings,” according to Le Parisien newspaper.
Brunel—who is known to have flown on Epstein’s private airplane, and visited Epstein more than 50 times during his 13 month jail stint in Palm Beach County, Florida— has previously been accused in U.S. court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for Epstein. Brunel has denied those allegations.
Prosecutors further confirmed that the arrest was in connection with an investigation opened in August of last year centering on possible “events of a sexual nature thought to have been committed by Jeffrey Epstein and other accomplices.”
Brunel sued Epstein in 2015, claiming that the high-profile financier’s legal problems had resulted in the modeling agent being unfairly maligned, damaging his personal and professional reputation.
Prosecutors in the case of Ghislaine Maxwell—another former close associate of Epstein accused of playing a significant role in procuring him underage girls—opposed Maxwell’s request to be freed on bond ahead of her trial in the Southern District of New York. Prosecutors in the SDNY noted in the July 2020 memo that Maxwell could flee to France and be out of reach of the U.S. government.
“Instead of attempting to address the risks of releasing a defendant with apparent access to extraordinary financial resources, who has the ability to live beyond the reach of extradition in France, and who has already demonstrated a willingness and ability to live in hiding, the defendant instead proposes a bail package that amounts to little more than an unsecured bond,” prosecutors wrote, noting that France “does not extradite its citizens to the United States pursuant to French law.”
“The victims have long awaited the arrest of Jean-Luc Brunel,” Anne-Claire Lejeune, a lawyer representing several of Brunel’s alleged victims told The Daily Beast. “They welcome this custody with relief, and confidence in the legal consequences that will be given. Their word finally takes on a meaning.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY declined Law&Crime’s request for comment.
[Image via JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]