French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew, has been found dead in a Paris prison. Brunel was being held as part of an inquiry into whether Epstein had also committed sex crimes against French victims or on French territory.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of Brunel’s death, though suicide is suspected. His body was found in his cell while guards conducted a routine checkup at the Sante prison in Paris at about 1 a.m. Saturday, according to local officials. A French prison official that said while there was no closed-circuit TV inside Brunel’s cell, video in prison corridors shows that guards did not miss any of their routine checks.
Brunel’s lawyers defended their client in a statement issued shortly after his passing. “[Brunel’s] distress was the one of a 75-year-old man who was destroyed by the judicial-media lynching and we should question it,” Brunel’s attorneys Mathias Chichportich, Marianne Abgrall and Christophe Ingrain said in a statement. “Our client firmly asserted he never abused any women. He made multiple efforts to prove it.”
Brunel was initially arrested at Charles De Gaulle Airport in December 2020. According to Paris prosecutors, Brunel was initially held in connection with a probe into the rape and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation. Prosecutors zeroed in on Brunel after launching a probe into possible crimes committed by Epstein on French soil. Days later, Brunel was charged with rape of minors over the age of 15 and sexual harassment. Brunel claimed he was innocent.
The late Epstein associate was later named in closed-door testimony from sex-trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre, in the same court filing in 2014 in which she first accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her, claimed to have been trafficked by Epstein and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell to Brunel.
Giuffre issued a statement shortly after Brunel’s apparent suicide. “The suicide of Jean Luc Brunel, who abused me and countless girls and young women, ends another chapter. I am disappointed that I was not able to face him in a final trial and hold him accountable for his actions, but gratified that I was able to face him in person last year in Paris, to keep him in prison,” Virginia Giuffre said in a statement issued though her attorney.
In January, a civil suit brought forward by Giuffre that named Prince Andrew was allowed to proceed by a New York judge. After Giuffre’s testimony, Prince Andrew was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages. “The allegation that [Ms Giuffre] was forced to sit on [Prince Andrew’s] lap while he touched her is sufficient to state a battery claim under New York law, regardless of which part of her body the defendant ultimately is alleged to have touched,” ruled Judge Lewis Kaplan in January.