On Wednesday, Jean-Luc Brunel was arrested at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France for his involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring. A talent scout and modeling agent, Brunel has been taken into custody for charges including human trafficking, sexual assault, and criminal conspiracy.
Many of Epstein’s accusers have said that Brunel, like Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, recruited young girls and brought them to Epstein’s parties and homes in Palm Beach and New York. Brunel allegedly used his job as a modeling agent and talent scout to lure minors to Epstein, promising that he could help jump-start their careers.
“One of the seven Jeffrey Epstein sexual assault victims I represent has alleged in our litigation that Jean-Luc Brunel trafficked her to Epstein,” attorney Lisa Bloom told The Daily Beast after Brunel’s arrest. “This took place in 2009, after Epstein's criminal conviction. We are very pleased that at long last Mr. Brunel is being brought to justice.”
Here’s everything we know about Brunel, his involvement in Epstein’s crimes, and the decades of sexual assault allegations that have been made against him.
Who Is Jean-Luc Brunel?
Brunel, now 74, began working at Paris-based agency Karin Models in 1978, and has sexual assault and misconduct allegations dating back to the ’80s. In 1988, a group of young models went on CBS’ 60 Minutes and accused him of rape, groping, and drugging their drinks, but there was never a formal investigation into their claims, wrote The Washington Post.
Brunel moved to the U.S. in 1995 to start an American offshoot of the agency. In 2005, he transformed this into his own company, MC2 Model Management, reportedly with Epstein’s financial help. Since Epstein’s 2019 arrest, even more women — from France, the U.S., and elsewhere — have come forward with allegations against Brunel. “Brunel raped me in 1991. He drugged me and rapped me and I never came forward as I was ashamed,” Dutch model Thysia Huisman told The Daily Beast. Even though the statute of limitations had passed, she added, “I reported it in the hopes other woman would come forward.”
Why Was Brunel Detained? What Was He Accused Of?
Prosecutors in Paris opened an investigation in August of last year, after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the investigation related to “rapes, sexual assaults, the rape and sexual assault of a minor aged 15, the rape and sexual assault of a minor over 15 years, sexual harassment, association with criminals and the trafficking and exploitation of minors.” The investigation was opened after American prosecutors accused Brunel of bringing young girls to Epstein.
Several of Epstein’s victims have named Brunel as an accomplice to (and participant in) his abuse. In 2015, Virginia Giuffre said Brunel was one of several men Epstein forced her to have sex with; she also recalled Epstein bragging to her about having sex with more than 1,000 of “Brunel’s girls,” reported The Miami Herald. Maritza Vasquez, a former MC2 bookkeeper, also said in a court statement that Brunel brought girls as young as 14 years old to Epstein’s parties and New York apartments.
What Was Brunel’s Relationship To Jeffrey Epstein?
Brunel has argued that he had no business relationship with Epstein, but admitted that Epstein provided him with a $1 million line of credit that helped him found MC2 in 2005. They were associates before then, too — according to flight logs, Brunel flew on Epstein’s private jet at least 25 times between 1998 and 2005.
Police also discovered evidence of regular phone calls between Brunel and Epstein: two handwritten notes from 2015, identified as phone messages from Brunel, were found in Epstein’s trash. One of them said that Brunel “has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak Russian. She is 2 X 8 years old, not Blonde. Lessons are free and you can have 1st today if you call.” Another read, “Just did a good one — 18 years (She spoke to me and said ‘I love Jeffrey’).”
How Does Ghislaine Maxwell Fit Into The Accusations Against Brunel?
According to The Guardian, Ghislaine Maxwell — another Epstein accomplice who has been accused of recruiting, grooming, “training,” and assaulting girls as young as 12 years old — was the one who first introduced Brunel and Epstein. Her friendship with Brunel dates back to the ’80s, and she met Epstein in 1991. Maxwell was arrested in July on six charges related to sexual abuse.