Jean-Luc Brunel, the former head of a modeling agency who was a close associate to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was found hanged in his French jail cell early Saturday morning. Brunel was behind bars as he faced charges of raping minors and sexual harassment. He was also being investigated for possible human trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation amid accusations that he supplied young girls to Epstein. Brunel’s death immediately brought to mind the death of Epstein, who hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 as he awaited trial.
Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents several of Epstein’s accusers told the Washington Post that the timing of the apparent suicide was striking considering it came days after Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accused him of raping her when she was a teenager. “Rather than be held accountable, he just checked out,” he said of Brunel. “They’re both very selfish people, so if the world isn’t going to be what they want it to be, then there’s no sense in living.”
Brunel’s attorneys insisted that the apparent suicide “was not driven by guilt, but by a deep sense of injustice” because he “never stopped declaring his innocence.” Paris police are investigating the death of the 75-year-old, who was found dead in his cell at La Santé, a prison in southern Paris at around 1 a.m. in what appeared to be a suicide. Brunel had been detained in 2020 as part of an investigation that began with the sex trafficking charges against Epstein. He was released on bail in November but then was ordered to return to prison.
Several women have accused Brunel of rape and abuse. And on Saturday a few of them expressed shock and anger that the former model scout will not face trial. “The suicide of Jean-Luc Brunel, who abused me and countless girls and young women, ends another chapter,” Virginia Roberts Giuffre tweeted. “I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to face him in a final trial to hold him accountable, but gratified that I was able to testify in person last year to keep him in prison.” Giuffre had said in court that Brunel would offer modeling jobs to young girls and then pressure them to have sex with his friends, including Epstein. Giuffre also said Epstein pressured her to have sex with Brunel.
Thysia Huisman, a former Dutch model, who accused Brunel of drugging and raping her in Paris in 1991 also expressed dismay at the news. “This is a completely different ending without any real justice for his victims,” she tweeted. A lawyer representing Huisman and other victims said there was “great disappointment” after news of the death amid doubt that the investigation would now ultimately lead to a trial considering Brunel was so central to the case.