Monday, July 15, 2024

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Estein’s Paris Flat Searched In French Probe

The wealthy US financier Jeffrey Epstein, indicted on charges he trafficked underage girls for sex, committed suicide in prison, US news media reported on August 10, 2019. / AFP
French investigators searched disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein’s luxury Paris apartment on Tuesday, deepening a probe into allegations that the sex offender procured young women to abuse in France.
Epstein, who was arrested in New York in July on charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, was found hanged in his New York jail cell on August 10 while awaiting trial over abuses involving girls at his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the Caribbean.
But his ownership of an apartment in the heart of upmarket Paris and allegations from women who say they were abused in France prompted French prosecutors to open their own criminal probe last month.
Epstein’s flat on Avenue Foch near the Champs-Elysees — one of the world’s most exclusive addresses — was scoured for evidence from Monday afternoon to the early morning hours of Tuesday, a source close to the probe told AFP.
A week earlier, investigators searched the nearby headquarters of Karin Models, an agency founded in 1978 by Epstein associate Jean-Luc Brunel, himself accused in American court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for his friend.
Epstein, who at one time counted Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew among his friends, was accused of recruiting teenagers to administer massages which frequently led to abuse and even rape.
 ‘Sex slave’ –
Last month, the investigation officially spilled over from the US to France when the Paris prosecutor’s office opened its own inquiry into claims of rape and sex abuse, including of minors.
The investigation focuses on potential crimes committed against French victims in France as well as abroad, and on suspects who are French citizens, the Paris prosecutor said.
Three women in France have come forward, including a former Dutch model who says she was drugged and raped by Brunel at a Paris flat in the early 1990s.
In a letter to the chief Paris prosecutor seen by AFP, the former Dutch model, now 46, says she was drugged and raped by Brunel at a Paris flat — situated on the prestigious Avenue Hoche — when she was just above the age of consent.
In the US, Virginia Giuffre filed a suit accusing Epstein of using her as a “sex slave”, in which she also said she had been forced to sleep with well-known politicians and businessmen, including Brunel.
Giuffre alleged Brunel, who specialised in scouting models and was a hugely influential figure in the industry, would bring girls as young as 12 to the United States and pass them on to his friends, including Epstein.
Brunel in 2015 issued a rare statement in which he vehemently denied involvement, “directly or indirectly” in any crimes by Epstein, with whom he fell out in later years.
Long before the Epstein scandal broke, Brunel was accused of rape by several models in a 1988 CBS documentary.
Brunel, now in his 70s, has made no public comment on the latest allegations. He was spotted at a high-society function at the beginning of July but has not been seen since.
He began his career as a model scout who in 1978 was involved in setting up the prestigious Karin Models agency. He then moved to the United States where he co-founded the Miami-based agency MC2.
Epstein pled guilty in 2008 to procuring for prostitution a girl under the age of 18, and served 13 months in prison before being released on probation.

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