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On a hot Friday evening in France last month, Jean-Luc Brunel was revelling in his natural habitat: a lavish party packed with the rich and beautiful. Then came the hangover. It was an alarming development for Epstein associates , such as Brunel, who are accused of aiding his abuse — and a flicker of hope for women who have been waiting years for the Frenchman to be held accountable. Brunel denies both allegations. Several associates have, however, come under renewed scrutiny from US investigators, according to sources familiar with the inquiry, even as the renewed effort to bring Epstein to justice was derailed last week when the year-old died of apparent suicide in a New York jail cell.
Allegations of misconduct against Brunel date back decades, yet he has faced no action. Brunel and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment. While several Epstein allies disappeared from public view in the years following his now-notorious plea deal , Brunel continued traversing the globe in search of young women and girls to make into models.
MC2, the Miami-based model agency Brunel founded with financial help from Epstein, did not respond to questions and multiple requests for comment. But Brunel said in a legal case, which remains open, that he still owned MC2. In April, Brunel visited an agency in Brazil that MC2 has worked with in the past to find new models to bring over to the US, according to a source who saw him in Brasilia.
When a Guardian reporter visited an apartment in Miami Beach owned by Brunel last month, the door was answered by a young woman who said she was a Brazilian model there to work for MC2. The woman, who gave her first name and said she was 26, said she was one of four models staying in the apartment, which is listed as having one bedroom.
Brunel rose to prominence during the s as a scout at the Karin Models agency in Paris. He has said he launched the careers of some of the most successful models of the era, such as Jerry Hall, Angie Everhart and Christy Turlington. A spokeswoman for Gruber said she did not remember Brunel. The apartment also housed a succession of younger models, many in their teens, who arrived from the US and elsewhere in Europe in search of success.