Victims of the alleged abuse expressed shock and dismay at the fact that Jean-Luc Brunel would never be tried. His death was viewed as a double blow by the victims. Epstein, who was awaiting sex-trafficking allegations, committed suicide in Manhattan in 2019.
According to the prosecutor's office, Brunel's murder is being investigated by Paris police. Brunel's death circumstances were not publicized and Brunel's attorneys did not comment.
Brunel denied any wrongdoing, and said through his lawyer that he was open to talking to investigators. Brunel's legal team repeatedly complained about his conditions in detention and asked for Brunel to be released until he is tried.
Brunel, in his 70s, was detained in Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, 2020, as part of a French probe launched by U.S. sex trafficking charges against Epstein.
Brunel, a frequent companion of Epstein was key to the French investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation by a U.S. financier circle and his circle of women. Epstein was often in France, and he had Paris apartments.
Since 2019, multiple victims identified themselves to police and expressed frustration at the slow pace of the investigation.
ThysiaHuisman, one of the survivors, stated that she was in shock when she heard about Brunel's passing.
Huisman, a former Dutch model, said that Brunel raped her as a teenager. "For me, the ending of this was to take place in court. This is the end of it all. It would have been a closure.
Anne-Claire Lejeune (a lawyer representing Huisman, and other victims), said that other women involved in this case feel the exact same.
She told The Associated Press, "Great disappointment, great frustration that victims won't receive justice."
Brunel was so important to the case that she questioned whether the investigation would result in a trial. She expressed concern that Brunel's passing will not result in Brunel's accusers being officially recognized as victims.
Huisman stated, "To rebuild yourself (after abuse), this is one of the most essential steps."
She expressed hope Brunel's passing wouldn't deter women from speaking out about abuse. She said that the investigation and a growing awareness of sexual misconduct in France has "freed up women for talking about it." It's a hard step and requires courage and strength.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre is Epstein's principal accuser. She claims that Brunel sex with minors and lured them with the promise of modeling work.
has recently settled a case where Giuffre had accused him of sexual abuse at the age of 17. Guiffre claims she was sold to Andrew by Epstein. Andrew denies the charges. Andrew settled with Guiffre and agreed to make Giuffre's charity a substantial donation. This avoids a trial.