Jean-Luc Brunel, who killed himself in prison while awaiting trial on allegations he helped secure girls and young women for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, had attempted to take his own life numerous times before, his lawyer said.
The French modeling scout, 74, had a history of “several suicide attempts” since he was taken into custody at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris in December 2020, his lawyer, Mathias Chichportich, told the Miami Herald.
But when he was found dead early Saturday at La Sante prison, the disgraced fashion fixture was not under active suicide watch, called “emergency protection” in France, the newspaper reported.
If he had been under suicide watch, he would have been placed in a special cell, which typically have rounded corners, paper clothes and tearable bedsheets to prevent inmates from hurting themselves, the outlet reported.
Brunel, who ran Karin Models in Paris, and later formed MC2 Model Management with Epstein, was discovered hanging by his bedsheets in his cell in the notorious prison, prosecutors said.
He had been awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault and rape and was also being investigated for trafficking minors, including girls as young as 12 years old.
He had denied the accusations.
His death, under similar circumstances to Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019, marked a lost opportunity for the victims of the alleged sex-trafficking ring to get justice.
Anne-Claire Le Jeune, a lawyer representing Brunel’s accusers, expressed their “frustration and bitterness over not being able to obtain justice – just as for the victims of Epstein.”
It had already taken “so much courage for them to be able to speak up, to be heard by the police,” Le Jeune told the Guardian.
Thysia Huisman, a Dutch former model who has claimed she was drugged and raped by Brunel as a teenager, said she was shocked by the news of his suicide.
“It makes me angry, because I’ve been fighting for years,” Huisman told the outlet. “For me, the end of this was to be in court. And now that whole ending – which would help form closure – is taken away from me. To rebuild yourself, that is an essential step.”