A French fashion agent suspected of sharing a teenage lover with Prince Andrew was sentenced to multiple prison terms today for "minor rape" and "sexual harassment".
Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, was charged late Friday evening after two days of interviews by an examining magistrate and special police from an anti-pedophilia unit, prosecutors in Paris confirmed.
He was arrested at the city's Charles de Gaulle Airport on Wednesday while trying to get on a plane to Dakar, Senegal, and told detectives, "I'm going on vacation."
Brunel is suspected of being part of a global underage sex ring organized by the late American multibillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide last year while awaiting trial for numerous sex crimes.
Others believed to have been involved in the ring include Epstein's ex-girlfriend, British celebrity Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, who is currently on remand in the United States after being charged with sex trafficking and seducing minors .
Jean-Luc Brunel (pictured with Ghislaine Maxwell) was arrested on suspicion of rape and child trafficking
Brunel was the founder of MC2, the model agency. Pictured: Brunel with some models
Brunel reportedly delivered girls for Epstein's infamous sex parties, and his arrest is likely to put further pressure on Prince Andrew
60-year-old Prince Andrew, like his friend Maxwell, was a regular visitor to Epstein's £ 8 million mansion in Paris, where many of the worst crimes against girls are believed to have taken place.
A French judicial investigation into Brunel's behavior opened last August when prosecutors heard allegations that Brunel and the Queen's second son shared a lover.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an American, has told lawyers that she was employed as a "sex slave" when she was forced to sleep with the Duke after being brought in at least three times when she was 17.
Ms. Roberts Giuffre also said she had "multiple sexual relationships with Brunel" between the ages of 16 and 19, according to legal documents filed in America and France.
Both Prince Andrew and Brunel vehemently deny these claims, with the prince being viewed as a key witness whom both the Americans and the French seek to interview in person.
Regarding Brunel, a French law enforcement agency said on Saturday: "The suspect has been investigated for minor rape and sexual harassment."
The source used the term "mise en examen," which is the French equivalent of a defendant officially charged before a trial.
Rape of a minor carries up to 15 years in prison in France, while aggravated sexual harassment carries a three-year prison term and a fine of around £ 40,000.
Brunel, who denies any wrongdoing, is expected to remain in custody until criminal proceedings in the New Year, according to the source.
Brunel is also suspected of using his contacts in the fashion industry to make sacrifices to Epstein and his friends.
He is said to have flown three sisters from a Parisian housing estate to America so that Epstein could abuse them as "birthday presents".
Epstein – an old friend and business associate of Brunel – committed suicide in his New York prison cell on August 10 last year while awaiting a range of crimes, including trafficking in minors for sex and multiple rape.
Court files allege that his alleged victims included 12-year-old triplets from Paris.
Brunel was arrested by Paris detectives at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Wednesday while trying to board a flight to Dakar, Senegal
Brunel was the founder of MC2, the modeling agency – one that prosecutors believe served as a cover for Epstein's sex trafficking ring.
Brunel began his career as a model scout, working with celebrities such as Jerry Hall, Sharon Stone and Monica Bellucci.
Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, Mr. Brunel's lawyer, has insisted that her client is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Evidence against Brunel comes from a number of former models who waived their anonymity to make their allegations public.
New Zealander Zoe Brock has told French investigators that she was mistreated in his Paris home in the early 1990s.
A Dutch model, Thysia Huisman, who was 18 when she first met Brunel, said she was raped by him in 1991.
She is now one of at least four alleged victims, represented by Anne-Claire Le Jeune, a Paris attorney who said Brunel's imprisonment was a great relief because her grievances "now matter," she said.
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