Jean-Luc Brunel: French modelling agent with connections to Jeffrey Epstein charged with rape

A French modelling agent who knew the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with the rape and sexual harassment of minors over 15 years of age.

Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, was arrested at Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday as he waited to take a flight to Senegal, and has been remanded in custody.

He is being investigated as part of a French inquiry into the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls by Epstein and his circle.

The inquiry began in August last year – the same month Epstein was found dead in a New York jail cell.

Since then, multiple women have claimed they are victims and spoken to police.

The Paris prosecutor said Brunel was suspected of having raped, assaulted and harassed several minor and adult victims as well as organising transport and hosting young women for Epstein.

The modelling agent did not receive any human trafficking charges – one of the main lines of inquiry – because a magistrate decided there was insufficient evidence.

A lawyer for Brunel did not reply to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency.

Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who is in prison in New York, has proposed a $28.5m (£21m) bail package in a bid to be freed this year.

The bail arrangements would come with armed guards to ensure she stays safe and does not flee a New York residence.

She was arrested in an FBI raid at her secluded New Hampshire home in July over claims she played a central role in procuring underage girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s – something she denies.

A lawyer claims she has lost 15lbs (almost 7kg) in prison under “punitive” conditions.

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