Jean-Luc Brunel, an associate of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has been charged in Paris with the rape of minors and human trafficking as part of the investigation into the disgraced financier’s activities there, a French prosecutor said on Saturday.
Brunel, a French modeling agent, was arrested at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Wednesday and taken into custody on “counts of rape and sexual assault, rape and sexual assault on a minor under 15, rape and sexual assault on a minor over 15, sexual harassment, criminal associations and human trafficking to the detriment of minor victims for the purposes of sexual exploitation,” the Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement obtained by CNN.
In a statement obtained by the New York Times in October 2019, Brunel’s lawyer, Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, said that Brunel strongly denied the accusations of sexual abuse and was available to answer questions from investigative judges.
The Paris probe was launched on Aug. 23, 2019 and targeted “acts of sexual nature likely to have been committed by Jeffrey Epstein and possible accomplices,” the prosecutor’s office added.
Epstein had been accused of paying dozens of underage girls as young as 14 for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them between 1999 and 2005, according to the Daily Beast, who first reported the news. Authorities have said that many of the underage girls were runaways or foster children and that Epstein asked some to recruit others.
The former teacher whose net worth in July 2019 was estimated to be $559 million, died by suicide the following month while awaiting his trial for federal sex trafficking charges. His associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested in July 2020 and is in custody awaiting trial for charges that she conspired with Epstein to recruit, groom and sexually abuse minors. She has pleaded not guilty.