By Martin Goillandeau, CNN
French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, a longtime associate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in his prison cell, a spokesman for the Paris prosecutor’s office has said.
Brunel was found alone, hanged with sheets, in his cell at the Santé prison in the French capital around 1:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, the prosecutor’s office told CNN. He will not comment on whether Brunel committed suicide, adding that an investigation into the cause of death has been opened, “as is systematically done in these cases”, entrusted to the French judicial police.
Brunel’s French lawyers told CNN that “their client’s decision was not driven by guilt, but by a sense of injustice.”
“Jean-Luc Brunel has never stopped proclaiming his innocence. He has worked hard to prove it. A judge had released him a few months ago, then he was reincarcerated in undignified conditions, ”we read in a press release sent to CNN by his lawyers Mathias Chichportich, Marianne Abgrall and Christophe Ingrain.
Accused of rape by several former top models, which he denied, the 75-year-old man was indicted in France at the end of June 2021 for “rape of a minor over the age of 15”, confirmed the prosecution.
Brunel was arrested at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in December 2020 for “rape and sexual assault, rape and sexual assault on a minor under the age of 15, rape and sexual assault on a minor over the age of 15, sexual harassment, association criminals and trafficking in human beings”. to the detriment of minor victims for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
He was released under judicial supervision for a few days in November 2021, before being sent back to prison by decision of the Paris Court of Appeal. He appealed the decision as the prosecution prepared its case.
Brunel’s arrest was part of an investigation launched in 2019 by French prosecutors, targeting “acts of a sexual nature likely to have been committed by Jeffrey Epstein and possible accomplices”, on the basis of verifications and cross-checks carried out on information provided to the Paris public prosecutor’s office. office and exchanges with the American authorities.
Epstein was found dead in his jail cell in the United States on August 10, 2019. He was awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, after pleading not guilty to federal charges accusing him of running a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at his Manhattan mansion and Palm Beach estate, and allegedly paid girls as young as 14 for sex.
A medical examiner ruled his death a suicide by hanging.
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