A French fashion agent linked to Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell on Friday night, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Jean-Luc Brunel, 76, was in detention awaiting a trial on charges of rape of a minor and sexual harassment.
He was suspected of being involved in a global paedophile ring organised by the late disgraced financier Epstein, who took his own life in prison while awaiting trial for sex crimes, in 2019.
US prosecutors accused Brunel of finding young girls for his longtime associate and financier.
Lawyers for the fashion agent suggested he had killed himself, according to reports in the French press.
Le Monde reported his legal team as saying: “His decision was not driven by guilt, but by a deep sense of injustice.”
Brunel was arrested in December 2020 at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport while trying to board a plane to Senegal.
He co-founded modelling agency MC2 Model Management in the US with funding from Epstein.
Several women accused Brunel of sexual assault, and at least a dozen people were known to have given evidence for the French investigation into allegations against Epstein and his circle.
Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein as a teenager, alleged that Brunel procured women, some of them minors, for sex with Epstein and others. He lured them with promises of modelling work, she said.
Epstein’s illicit activities have resurfaced in recent months due to a number of high-profile cases involving his associates.
Prosecutors described Maxwell as a “sophisticated predator” who targeted vulnerable young girls. She is set to be sentenced on 28 June and faces up to 65 years in prison – meaning the 60-year-old could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Ms Giuffre, the most prominent of Epstein’s accusers, said she hoped Maxwell’s guilty verdict was “another step in justice being served” but that “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be”.
Prince Andrew settled a civil sexual assault case brought against him by Ms Giuffre this week. She sued the Duke of York claiming she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 years old after being trafficked by Epstein. Prince Andrew denied her allegations.