A French man accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Roberts Giuffre died in prison Saturday; authorities reportedly said his death was a suicide.
ABC News reports the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of the prisoner but declined to confirm the details of his death.
Jean-Luc Brunel, 72, was arrested by French police in 2020 as he was boarding a plane at DeGaulle airport bound for Senegal, according to a Daily Mail report.
Prosecutors in Paris confirmed Brunel was found hanging in his La Santé cell in the early hours of Saturday morning. Brunel was believed to have been alone when he died. Reportedly, an investigating source at La Santé – one of the toughest jails in France — said there were no cameras to record his final hours
“A night patrol found his lifeless body at about 1 a.m.,” an investigating source reportedly said. “A judicial inquiry has been launched and early evidence points to suicide.”
Many French models reportedly told investigators over the years about sexual assaults by Brunel but they occurred in the ’80s and ’90s, which placed the alleged crimes outside the country’s statute of limitations. So, he was reportedly considered un-prosecutable until French authorities issued an international appeal for other victims to testify against him.
Giuffre responded to an online English language appeal by French magistrates in 2020, according to the report, and she provided considerable evidence against Brunel during a remote interview from Australia. She reportedly told investigators she had ‘sexual relations with Brunel on several occasions’, between the ages of 16 and 19.
Brunel’s indictment and subsequent arrest followed her allegation he raped her as late as 2001, which was considered a breakthrough. It meant authorities could prosecute him because a 2001 crime was well within the statute of limitations.
The claim of multiple rapes’ of Giuffre – now a mother of three who was called Virginia Roberts before her marriage – were said to have mainly taken place at a residence of deceased billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Epstein, accused by Guiffre of sexual assault in a separate incident, died in a New York City jail cell. His 2019 death was ruled a suicide.
Giuffre said Epstein told her he had slept with “over a thousand women that Brunel brought in”, in an NBC Dateline special that aired in 2019.
Brunel, who denied any wrongdoing, was being held in custody until a trial date could be set.
Thysia Huisman, a former Dutch model, said Brunel drugged and raped her when she was 18. She reportedly told the BBC it was frustrating that his alleged victims would never have their day in court.
“After more than two and a half years of fighting for justice, since I reported Brunel in September 2019, it’s a huge disappointment he will never face a judge,” she said.
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