French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who was a close associate of US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in his Paris prison cell, prosecutors confirmed on Saturday.
Epstein, who was arrested in July 2019 on charges of trafficking underage girls, was found hanged in his New York jail cell the following month while awaiting trial.
His former associate Brunel, who was 75 at the time of his death, had been charged with the rape of minors and held in prison since December 2020. He was briefly freed in late 2021 but then re-incarcerated on a Paris court of appeal ruling.
A source close to the investigation told AFP (Agence France-Presse) that he had been found dead overnight Friday to Saturday. Paris prosecutors later confirmed he had died. The source said he had been found hanged but this was not confirmed by prosecutors.
Police are now investigating the cause of the death, added the source, who asked not to be named. Brunel’s death means that his case is now closed, unless other suspects are implicated in the same case in the future. Brunel had denied the charges. He was first detained in December 2020 at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
“His tragedy is that of a 75-year-old man crushed by a media-judicial system, about which there will now be time to ask questions,” his lawyers, Mathias Chichportich, Marianne Abgrall and Christophe Ingrain said in a statement.
“Jean-Luc Brunel had always maintained his innocence and had intensified his efforts to prove it,” it said, adding that his apparent suicide was “not guided by guilt but a profound sense of injustice.”
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.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PH0YO CREDITS: NY DAILY NEWS