A French fashion agent linked to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell on Friday night, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Jean-Luc Brunel 76, was 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 billionaire Epstein, who killed himself in prison while awaiting trial for sex crimes, in 2019.
US prosecutors accused Brunel of finding young girls for his longtime associate Epstein.
Lawyers for Brunel suggested he had killed himself, according to reports in French media.
Le Monde reported his legal team as saying: ‘His decision was not driven by guilt, but by a deep sense of injustice.’
Prosecutors confirmed he was found hanging in his cell in La Santé, in the south of the capital city, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
‘A night patrol found his lifeless body at about 1am,’ said an investigating source.
‘A judicial enquiry has been launched, and early evidence points to suicide.’
Brunel, who denied wrongdoing, 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 him of sexual assault.
Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein when a teenager, has alleged that Brunel procured women, some of them minors, for sex with Epstein and others.
She said he lured them with promises of modelling work.
Ms Giuffre has also said she had ‘sexual relations with Brunel on several occasions’, between the ages of 16 and 19, according to legal papers filed in America and France.
Brunel’s death comes days after Prince Andrew, 62, agreed to settle Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit accusing him of sex abuse after they met through Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
Maxwell, the socialite daughter of late press baron Robert Maxwell and a former girlfriend of Epstein, was recently found guilty of recruiting and grooming girls for the financier. She will be sentenced later this year and faces spending the rest of her life in prison.