Epstein Associate Detained in France on Rape, Assault Charges

Jean-Luc Brunel, owner of a modeling agency, is being questioned in police custody in France as the country’s prosecutors step up a probe into the role he may have played in luring underage girls into the late Jeffrey Epstein’s orbit.

Paris prosecutors said Brunel has been held since Wednesday as part of a probe opened last year. He was detained at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport as he was about to board a plane to Dakar, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors say he faces charges related to rape and sexual assault on minors, sexual harassment and human trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation. Brunel could be held for questioning for up to 96 hours, depending on what charges are pressed.

A lawyer for Brunel, who owns agency MC2 Model Management, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Agence France-Presse reported on the detention of Brunel earlier on Thursday.

In the U.S., 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.

Epstein had a longstanding link to France. He owned an apartment near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and was arrested in early July 2019 at an airport near New York upon returning from France. Epstein killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019.

The relationship between Brunel and Epstein is documented at least as far back as 2002, when flight logs place the Frenchman on the late financier’s private plane for 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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