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Jeffrey Epstein allegedly victimized many young, vulnerable women and girls, and one way for him to access a revolving door of victims was to exploit his connections to the modeling industry.
Modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel is just one of many accused of being a co-conspirator in Epstein’s alleged molestation pyramid scheme, in which Epstein enlisted recruiters who would lure potential victims for him. "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” a Netflix docuseries which came out earlier this year, claimed that Epstein exploited his business relationship with Leslie “Les” Wexner — the CEO of L Brands, the parent organization for Victoria's Secret — to ensnare victims, as Epstein would allegedly pose as a model scout for Victoria's Secret. Now, Lifetime’s new docuseries “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein” claims Epstein also used Brunel, an actual model scout, as one of his recruiters.
Who is Brunel?
Brunel is a French model scout who used to be a part-owner of the Paris-based modeling agency Karin Models, the Daily Beast reported last year.
“He’s someone who rose to the top of the modeling profession and had a terrible reputation for harassing and trying to sleep with his models,” journalist Daniel Bates noted in “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.”
A few American models who worked with Brunel in Europe alleged that Brunel would routinely pressure his models into having sex with his friends on a 1987 episode of “60 Minutes.” Model Courtney Soerensen said her career was destroyed after she rejected a sexual advance from Brunel. Brunel has denied those claims.
Brunel later founded international modeling agency MC2 in 2005, an agency that Epstein helped finance, according to the Daily Beast. Epstein is accused of using the agency, which had offices in New York and Miami, as a way to sex traffick girls.
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, obtained by the Daily Beast, one survivor claimed that Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, and co-conspirators “deliberately engaged in a pattern of racketeering that involved luring minor children through MC2, mostly girls under the age of 17, to engage in sexual play for money.”
Documents from a now-settled 2015 civil case against Maxwell, in which accuser Virginia Giuffre claimed Maxwell recruited her for abuse when she was 17, were unsealed last year and obtained by CNBC. In them, Giuffre claimed that Maxwell directed her to have sex with multiple powerful men, including Brunel. She claimed that Epstein once bragged to her that he had “slept with over 1,000 of Brunel’s girls,” according to The Cut.
Brunel has denied all allegations against him, according to the new Lifetime docuseries.
The relationship between Epstein and Brunel deteriorated some time after Epstein was convicted in 2008 for soliciting a prostitute and for procuring an underage girl for prostitution in Florida. Multiple girls then sued him in civil court, and Epstein’s reputation came under fire. Brunel was even subpoenaed to testify for victims in several of those cases in 2009, the Daily Beast reported in 2015.
Brunel himself then sued Epstein in civil court in 2015, claiming he became a pariah in the modeling industry because of the Epstein allegations, according to the Daily Beast.
Where is Brunel now?
After Epstein died, the attention shifted to his alleged co-conspirators, including Brunel. Multiple former models went public with accusations he sexually assaulted them over the past few decades in August 2019, The Guardian reported at the time. Soerensen, one of the girls interviewed on “60 Minutes,” repeated her claims from the '80s, and one anonymous woman told CBS News that Brunel drugged and raped her in 1987.
When French authorities began investigating Brunel for any possible sex crimes committed against French citizens, Brunel seemingly vanished.
In September, Brunel’s Paris home, the Karin Models office, and Epstein’s apartment were searched amid the ongoing Epstein investigation, CBS News reported. Investigators then reportedly geolocated Brunel in South America a week later, the Telegraph reported. It appears that he is now back in Europe. Brunel's lawyer Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt told French outlet Le Progrès on Thursday that her client is currently back in France and "at the disposal of justice."
She said Brunel will not be making a statement, adding that her client is "fed up."
It’s unclear if Brunel, now 73, will face charges. He has not been charged with any crime.
Oxygen.com was unable to reach Brunel for comment.
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