French modelling agent linked to Epstein accused of rape
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A former model has accused a modelling agent close to US sex crimes suspect Jeffrey Epstein of raping her in 1990, as France pursues its own investigation into alleged offences on its territory.
In a letter sent to Paris Prosecutor Remi Heitz seen by AFP on Saturday, a 46-year-old Dutch woman says Jean-Luc Brunel drugged and raped her at his Paris appartment in the early 1990s, shortly after she turned 18.
French prosecutors opened an inquiry last month into suspected sex trafficking and alleged cases of rape and sexual abuse of women, including minors.
Brunel has emerged as a key figure in the scandal surrounding the US billionaire, who committed suicide in a New York jail last month.
But since Epstein's arrest in July -- just as he returned from a trip to Paris -- Brunel, formerly a high-power model scout, has not been heard from publicly.
In her letter, the former Dutch model said several girls lived in Brunel's apartment near the Champs-Elysees, where every day "rich businessmen were accompanied by very young girls."
"The events are beyond the statute of limitations, and my client knows this will not lead to charges against Mr Brunel," the woman's lawyer, Anne-Claire Le Jeune, told AFP.
"But she wanted to testify anyway, to help the inquiry move forward," she said.
It is also investigating claims that Epstein and others participated for years in a vast child sex-trafficking ring.
A French advocacy group for child sex abuse victims, Innocence En Danger (Innocence at Risk), has said 10 people had offered witness statements alleging sex crimes committed against minors in France.
According to the Parisian newspaper, Paris police last week questioned two other women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Brunel. These alleged offences happened too long ago for prosecution.
Four years ago, Brunel was accused in a civil lawsuit of rape and procuring young girls for the US financier.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who filed the suit, accused Epstein of using her as a "sex slave". She said she had been forced to have sex with well-known politicians and businessmen, including Brunel.
She also alleged that Brunel would bring girls as young as 12 to the United States and pass them on to his friends, including Epstein. Brunel fiercely denied the allegations.
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