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Tipsheet

Modeling Agent Suspected of Recruiting Underage Girls for Epstein Found Hanged in Prison Cell

AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Uma Sanghvi, File)/Palm Beach Post via AP

The former boss of a French modeling agency who was under investigation over suspicion he procured underage girls to late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found hanged in his prison cell Saturday, invoking similarities between the two individual's alleged cause of deaths.

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Jean-Luc Brunel, 75, was found dead in his cell at around 1:30 a.m. in what French officials say is an apparent suicide, according to The Guardian. No cameras captured the alleged suicide but an inquiry into his death has been opened.

The fashion head was arrested in December 2020 as he attempted to travel to Dakar, Senegal for vacation. French prosecutors said at the time that Brunel was then put under investigation on suspicion of alleged rape and sexual assault of minors, sexual harassment and human trafficking of underage girls for sexual exploitation.

Prosecutors also said Brunel was arrested as part of an investigation into "events of a sexual nature thought to have been committed by Jeffrey Epstein and other accomplices."

And last year, a second probe was opened into the rape of a minor. Investigators had also questioned Brunel on suspicion he was involved in the human trafficking of underage girls for sexual exploitation.

Brunel's lawyers said in a statement that he "never stopped claiming his innocence and had made many efforts to prove it."

In 2019, Epstein was found hanged in his New York prison cell in a death that was ruled a suicide. He was charged with sex trafficking underage girls and conspiracy. His death led to speculation about whether he was killed because of information he had on other prominent individuals. Epstein died one day after a federal court unsealed nearly 2,000 pages of documents that provided key details on his alleged trafficking of minors.

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Brunel, a longtime associate of Epstein, was given a $1 million line of credit by the late financer to start a modeling agency in Miami.

The fashion head's former bookkeeper told the Miami Herald in 2019 that she believed the only reason Epstein was involved was because of the girls because "it was not a profitable business."

Epstein's longtime associate and former romantic partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted in December on charges of sex trafficking, including the trafficking of a minor. 

One of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, accused Brunel in 2015 of supplying young girls to Epstein. She said Epstein had told her he had had sex with more than 1,000 "of Brunel's girls." Earlier this week, Giuffre settled a lawsuit with Britain's Prince Andrew after accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was younger, beginning when she was just 17. The settlement is said to be in the millions.

"It almost seems like the entire ring of people who were doing this that their conscience is getting the better of them now that they are being held accountable for their actions," Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer for several Epstein victims, told the Miami Herald. "Of course, the alternative conspiracy theory is that it's like someone is trying to clean up shop."

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Kuvin also said the timing of Brunel's death is a "hell of [a] coincidence," adding that "It's almost like it's someone is trying to send a message to Ghislaine to shut up."

French prosecutors said Brunel's death would end the legal case into his alleged crimes unless a probe into additional suspects were to be opened.

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