The former boss of a French model agency accused of rape and under investigation on suspicion of supplying underage girls to the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead in prison.
The body of Jean-Luc Brunel, 75, was reportedly found hanging in his cell in the early hours of Saturday. The French prosecutors' office confirmed the report and said an inquiry had been opened into the exact cause of death, but early indications pointed to suicide, reports Guardian.
Brunel was detained at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2020 as part of a broad French probe unleashed by sex-trafficking charges in the US against Epstein. In December, he was charged with the rape of minor girls.
Epstein died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial.
A frequent companion of Epstein, Brunel was considered central to the French investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls by the US financier and his circle. Epstein traveled often to France and had apartments in Paris.
Multiple women have identified themselves as victims and spoken to police since the French probe was opened in 2019.
Anne-Claire Le Jeune, lawyer for the plaintiffs, expressed "frustration and bitterness over not being able to obtain justice, just as for the victims of Epstein".
"It took so much courage to be able to speak up, to be heard by the police and the investigating judges. It's quite terrible for the victims," she said.
She added that the victims have the "feeling that he (Brunel) is leaving behind a number of secrets".
Earlier this week, The United Kingdom's Prince Andrew agreed to settle a case in which he was accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl trafficked to him by Epstein.
The deal, in which Andrew agreed to make a substantial donation to his accuser's charity, avoids a trial.