Jeffrey Epstein’s French modeling agent friend Jean-Luc Brunel, who allegedly procured more than a thousand women and girls for the pedophile financier to sleep with, died today in an alleged prison suicide.
It comes days after Prince Andrew, 62, agreed to settle Virginia Roberts’s lawsuit accusing him of sex abuse after they met through Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
Roberts accused Brunel, 74, of procuring more than a thousand women and girls for Epstein to sleep with and he was awaiting trial in France for raping minors.
Prosecutors in Paris confirmed Brunel was found hanging in his cell in La Santé, in the south of the capital city, in the early hours of Saturday morning. It is not known whether Brunel was sharing a cell or whether there was any CCTV footage inside.
However, video cameras were not running at the time he died in the cell he shared with another inmate.
‘A night patrol found his lifeless body at about 1 am,’ said an investigating source. ‘A judicial enquiry has been launched, and early evidence points to suicide.’
It was in December 2020 that Brunel was indicted after two days of interviews by an examining magistrate and specialist police from an anti-pedophilia unit.
He was arrested at the city’s Charles de Gaulle airport while trying to board a plane to Dakar, Senegal, telling detectives ‘I’m going on holiday’.
Brunel was suspected of having been part of a global underage sex ring organized by the late American multi-billionaire Epstein, who was found dead in his cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for numerous sex crimes.
Others involved in the ring include Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, who is currently in prison in the USA after being found guilty of sex trafficking.
A French judicial enquiry into Brunel’s conduct was opened in August 2019, when prosecutors heard allegations that Brunel and the Queen’s second son Prince Andrew shared a lover.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an American, has told lawyers she was employed as a ‘sex slave’ when she was forced to sleep with the Duke of York after being trafficked to him at least three times when she was 17.
Almost all of the accusations leveled against Brunel are from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, meaning they fall outside the 20-year limit for prosecuting sex crimes in France.
This meant that Brunel was considered ‘untouchable’ by police who nicknamed him ‘The Ghost’ as he carried on living and working in the French capital, while frequently traveling abroad on scouting assignments and holidays.
But in November 2020, Giuffre responded to an online English language appeal by French magistrates for alleged victims to come forward.
Roberts Giuffre said she had ‘sexual relations with Brunel on several occasions’, between the ages of 16 and 19, according to legal papers filed in America and France.
‘Giuffre now lives in Australia but responded to the appeal,’ said an investigating source. ‘She was interviewed remotely and provided considerable evidence against Brunel.
‘She said that she was raped by Brunel in the early 2000s, including in 2001. This was a considerable breakthrough for the enquiry.’
It meant that the alleged crime was well within the statute of limitations, and therefore prosecutable.
Officers were set to arrest Brunel in January 2020 following further inquiries, but on December 16 he was intercepted at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris with a one-way ticket to Dakar, capital of Senegal, in West Africa.
‘This led to his immediate arrest and he was placed in custody,’ said the source. ‘The multiple rape charges solely relate to the testimony of Virginia Giuffre, and not any of the other alleged rape victims.
‘The sexual harassment indictment is nothing to do with the Epstein case, and instead relates to incidents in 2016 following a complaint by another woman who has not gone public.’
The ‘multiple rapes’ of Giuffre – now a mother of three who was called Virginia Roberts before her marriage – were said to have mainly taken place at Epstein’s home on the private island of Little Saint James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Giuffre had produced sworn testimonies saying that both Brunel and Prince Andrew attacked her there.
According to French law, a French citizen such as Brunel can be tried in France for offences committed abroad.
Both Prince Andrew and Brunel vehemently deny these claims, with the Prince considered a key witness who both the Americans and the French want to interview in person.
Despite vowing to fight the allegations and repeatedly protesting his innocence, the prince has agreed to pay a large sum to settle the case before it ever reaches a jury.
Reports suggested the Queen herself will provide money to pay for the settlement, according to the Telegraph.
The paper reported the total amount that the victim and her charity will receive will actually exceed £12m, with the funds coming from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate, which recently increased by £1.5m to more than £23m.
Although the agreement contained no formal admission of liability from Andrew, or an apology, it said he now accepted Miss Roberts was a ‘victim of abuse’ and that he regretted his association with Epstein, the disgraced financier who trafficked countless young girls.
‘He has never met Brunel. No ifs, no buts,’ a source close to Andrew told the Royal Observer.
The rape of a minor is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in France, while aggravated sexual harassment comes with a three-year prison sentence and a fine equivalent to around £40,000.
Giuffre said Epstein told her he had slept with ‘over a thousand women that Brunel brought in’, in an NBC Dateline special that aired in 2019.
Brunel, who denied any wrongdoing, was being held in custody until a criminal trial on a date to be fixed.
Brunel was also suspected of using his contacts in the fashion industry to provide victims to Epstein and his friends.
He is said to have flown three 12-year-old sisters from a Paris housing estate to America so they could be abused by Epstein as ‘a birthday present’.
Epstein – an old friend and business of associate of Brunel’s – committed suicide in his prison cell in New York on August 10 2019, while awaiting trial for a range of offences, including trafficking minors for sex, and multiple rapes.
Among his alleged victims, it is claimed in court documents, were the 12-year-old triplets from Paris.
Brunel was the founder of MC2, the model agency – one that prosecutors believe was used as a cover for Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
Brunel started his career as a model scout and has worked with celebrities including Jerry Hall, Sharon Stone, and Monica Bellucci.
Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, Brunel’s lawyer, has insisted her client is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Evidence against Brunel came from a number of former models, who had waived their anonymity to make their allegations public.
New Zealander Zoe Brock has claimed in statements made to French investigators that she was abused in his Paris home in the early 1990s.
A Dutch model, Thysia Huisman, who was 18 when she first stayed with Brunel, said she was raped by him in 1991.
She is now one of at least four alleged victims represented by Anne-Claire Le Jeune, a Paris barrister, who said Brunel being in custody was a huge relief, because their complaints now ‘take on meaning,’ she said.