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The 76-year-old was found during a night-time check by guards at La Santé early Saturday, officials told Le Monde.
His attorneys told the paper that the apparent suicide “was not driven by guilt, but by a deep sense of injustice.”
Epstein and Brunel accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre said it was unfortunate that the Frenchman would not face trial.
“The suicide of Jean-Luc Brunel, who abused me and countless girls and 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 in Paris, to keep him in prison,” she said.
Brad Edwards, who has represented Roberts Giuffre, said he believes the Frenchman took his life because he knew his fate was sealed.
“He and Epstein made it only as long as there was hope of getting out,” Edwards told The Daily Beast.
“Virginia’s testimony in France was a major factor in Jean-Luc being jailed. Her recent settlement with Prince Andrew solidified her as a highly credible person. So it cannot be a surprise that he took the same cowardly path as his old pal to avoid true accountability. I feel bad for his many victims but this does not have much impact at all on our investigation, which continues to strengthen.”
Brunel, who founded Karin Models and MC2 Model Management, started being investigated by French prosecutors in August 2019. He was arrested in December 2020 while attempting to board a flight to Dakar in Senegal.
At that time, prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement that Brunel “is suspected of having committed acts of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment on various minor or major victims and of having in particular organized the transport and accommodation of young girls or young women on behalf of Jeffrey Epstein.”
He was undeniably a close associate of Epstein, who killed himself by hanging in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
His name appeared more than 15 times on flight logs for Epstein’s private jet, and photos used as evidence in the case against Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell showed him palling around with her and Epstein.
He also visited Epstein dozens of times during the financier’s first jail stint—in Florida, for procuring an underage girl for prostitution.
Logs from Epstein’s Palm Beach home included messages from Brunel that appeared to refer to young girls. In one note, Brunel reported that he “just did a good one—18 years” who told him “I love Jeffrey.” In another, Brunel stressed that “he has a teacher for you to teach how to speak Russian ... She is 2x8 years old not blonde. Lessons are free and you can have 1st today if you call.”
Giuffre claimed in legal filings that she was forced to sleep Brunel, among others, while she was Epstein’s “sex slave.” She accused Brunel of using his modeling agency to import girls and young women and “farm them out to his friends, including Epstein.”
“A lot of the girls came from poor countries or poor backgrounds, and he lured them in with a promise of making good money,” Giuffre said in a 2015 affidavit. “Jeffrey Epstein has told me that he has slept with over 1,000 of Brunel’s girls, and everything that I have seen confirms this claim.”
Allegations of misconduct against Brunel predate the Epstein scandal, however. In 1988, 60 Minutes interviewed American models who worked with him in Paris who accused Brunel of drugging and molesting them.
Brunel professed his innocence through it all.
“I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work as a scouter or model agencies manager,” he said in a 2015 statement. “I have exercised with the utmost ethical standard for almost 40 years.”
French police have now opened an inquiry into Brunel’s death. When Epstein was found hanged, it triggered a swirl of conspiracy theories that he was murdered, which persist to this day even though the medical examiner ruled it a suicide. Brunel’s death under such similar circumstances is sure to jumpstart the rumor mill.
Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Giuffre and other Epstein victims, said the “fight to seek truth and justice goes on.”
“I was with Virginia Giuffre in court in Paris when she provided her powerful testimony against Jean Luc Brunel. It is devastating to Virginia and all the survivors that Brunel will not be tried for his crimes and held accountable. But as we said when Jeffrey Epstein cowardly killed himself, for the women who have stood up and called for accountability from law enforcement around the world, it is not how these men died, but how they lived and the damage they caused to so many,” she said.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741