Jeffrey Epstein associate and modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel found dead by suicide in French jail

Brunel was being held in an investigation into the rape of minors and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation.

ByAli Dukakis and Aicha El Hammar Castano ABCNews logo
Saturday, February 19, 2022
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PARIS -- ABC News has learned that disgraced modeling agent and Jeffrey Epstein associate Jean Luc Brunel died by suicide in his prison cell Saturday night in Paris.

The Paris prosecutor's office confirmed to ABC News that Brunel was found dead in his prison cell around 1:00 a.m. local time at La Sante Prison.

Jean Luc Brunel's lawyers tell ABC News Brunel hanged himself.

The prosecutor's office declined to confirm those details of Brunel's death.

In December 2020, Brunel was charged with rape of minors over the age of 15 and sexual harassment -- a crime in France.

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In a statement on their client's death which was in French and sent to and translated by ABC News, Brunel's lawyers said: "[Brunel's] distress (despair) was the one of a 75-year-old man who was destroyed by the judicial-media lynching and we should question it. Our client firmly asserted he never abused any women. He made multiple efforts to prove it."

"His decision was not led by a feeling of guilt but by a deep feeling of injustice," Brunel's attorneys Mathias Chichportich, Marianne Abgrall and Christophe Ingrain added.

A delegate from the Force Ouvriere Union for France's Penitentiaries, Erwan Saoudi, further confirmed Brunel's death.

Saoudi said the prison's procedure are that prison guard conduct five check on prisoners every night. Saoudi said while there was no closed-circuit TV inside Brunel's cell -- video in prison corridors proves that prison guards did not miss any of these checks.

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Saoudi said Brunel died by suicide just after the guard round [of checks] "which shows the strong will of Jean-Luc Brunel to kill himself." Saoudi added that Brunel was not on suicide watch.

Brunel was initially arrested in Charles De Gaulle Airport in December 2020. According to Paris prosecutors, Brunel was initially held in a probe into the rape of minors and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation in association with their probe into possible crimes committed by Epstein. Days later, Brunel was charged with rape of minors over the age of 15 and sexual harassment. Brunel maintained he was innocent.

In January 2021, Virginia Giuffre flew to Paris to provide testimony at a closed-door hearing on Brunel's detention.

Giuffre, in the same court filing in 2014 in which she first accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her, claimed to have been trafficked by Epstein and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell to Brunel.

"The suicide of Jean Luc Brunel, who abused me and countless girls and young women, ends another chapter. I am disappointed that I was not able to face him in a final trial and hold him accountable for his actions, but gratified that I was able to face him in person last year in Paris, to keep him in prison," Virginia Giuffre said in a statement issued though her lawyer, Sigrid McCawley.

Brunel had denied Giuffre's allegations.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also reach the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or the Crisis Text Line by texting "START" to 741741.


ABC News' James Hill contributed to this report.


The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.