French police raided the Paris apartment of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the offices of a modeling agency belonging to his alleged partner Jean-Luc Brunel, himself accused of rape and procuring minors for his friend .
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that investigators had carried out searches at Brunel’s Karin Models in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and at Epstein’s 800 square meter luxury apartment on the exclusive Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe .
Police sources told local media that the search of the residence of the late American financier, as part of a French investigation into allegations that he and others had for years trafficked underage girls for sexual purposes, started at 3 p.m. on Monday and continued until 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
Epstein’s Franco-Brazilian butler told the franceinfo news site that the apartment contained a specially built massage room to which “many women” had come. He added that he was unable to judge whether any of them were minors.
Epstein was arrested on July 6 in New Jersey after returning from Paris in his private jet. He pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14, but on August 10 he was found hanged in his cell.
The disgraced financier’s ownership of an apartment in Paris and allegations by women who say they were abused in France prompted French authorities to launch their own criminal investigation last month into half a dozen possible rape charges and sexual abuse, including on minors.
The investigation focuses on potential crimes committed against French victims in France and abroad, and on suspects of French nationality, the Paris prosecutor said. Police called on victims and witnesses to come forward.
It is not known where Brunel, who founded Karin Models in 1978, is since August. He was named after a close friend of Epstein who often flew on his plane and visited him in jail in Florida while serving a 13-month sentence for procuring a girl under the age of 18 for purposes of prostitution.
The Frenchman, who now lives mainly in the United States and has denied any wrongdoing, has been charged in court documents with rape and pimping for Epstein, who once counted Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew among his friends.
Three women have already testified to investigators in France. Among them was a former Dutch model, Thysia Huisman, who told The Guardian how she was invited to Paris in 1991 with the promise that Brunel would make her famous, but subsequently drugged and raped by the model finder in her apartment.
In the United States, Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged that Epstein had used her as a “sex slave”, forcing her to sleep with politicians and businessmen, including Brunel. She accused the Frenchman of bringing girls as young as 12 to the United States and passing them on to her friends.
Brunel, who claims to have launched the careers of supermodels Monica Bellucci, Sharon Stone, Christy Turlington, Jerry Hall and Milla Jovovich, was accused of rape by several models in a CBS documentary as early as 1988.
In 2015, he issued a statement vehemently denying any involvement, “directly or indirectly,” in any of Epstein’s crimes. “I firmly deny having committed any illegal act or wrongdoing in the course of my job as a recruiter or model agency manager,” he said at the time.