Epstein Associate Brunel Charged With Rape in France

Jean-Luc Brunel, a longtime associate of the late Jeffrey Epstein and owner of a modeling agency, was charged with rape and sexual harassment, according to Paris prosecutors.

Brunel was charged Friday by an investigative magistrate, prosecutors said in a statement. The rape charges relate to acts with minors over the age of 15.

The modeling industry veteran had been in custody since Wednesday after he was detained at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport as he was about to board a flight to Dakar.

Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, a lawyer for Brunel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Newspaper Le Parisien reported the charges earlier Saturday.

After he was charged, Brunel was placed in pre-trial detention. The Frenchman was also given the status of a material witness in relation to accusations of aggravated human trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation.

In France, investigative magistrates can decide to charge companies or individuals in a procedure known as “mise en examen,” when there is “serious and consistent” evidence showing likely involvement in the matter under investigation. They can then decide whether to refer a case to trial, but aren’t involved after that stage.

While the French investigation into those who may have helped Epstein lure underage girls into the late financier’s orbit will focus on possible crimes committed in France or involving French victims, U.S. authorities may also want to separately question or charge Brunel.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and confidante of Epstein, is in a New York jail awaiting a July 12 trial on sex-trafficking charges. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she helped recruit girls for sex with Epstein, who was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019. The death was ruled a suicide.

The relationship between Brunel and Epstein is documented at least as far back as 2002, when flight logs place the Frenchman on the financier’s private plane on a flight from Florida to the Bahamas. Jail logs show Brunel visited Epstein while he was serving a 13-month sentence for procuring an underage girl for prostitution. Brunel also housed models in Epstein’s Manhattan apartments, according to a sworn deposition by a former company bookkeeper.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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