A recently opened French investigation into possible sex crimes committed by now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has prompted three alleged victims to come forward, according to an announcement from the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The office said on Sept. 11 that the people were questioned by authorities in recent weeks. A wider appeal is underway as well, with French police urging anyone involved in Epstein’s alleged trafficking ring to come forward.
Prosecutors in New York noted that Epstein maintained a residence in Paris as well as a number of “luxury properties and residences around the world.” Epstein’s home in the U.S. Virgin Islands was believed to be his “primary residence” in the United States, according to a July 8 government bail memorandum.
Epstein’s residence in Paris is located near the Arc de Triomphe, a famous monument.
French investigators conducted one of their interviews as recently as Sept. 9, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. Last month, the chief prosecutor in Paris opened a preliminary inquiry to determine if Epstein had committed any sex crimes on French territory or against any underage French victims.
In a French police appeal posted on Sept. 11, authorities provided both a phone number and an Interior Ministry email address for victims and witnesses to use. It said police specialists have been mobilized for the investigation, which opened Aug. 23, of the alleged rape of minors and other possible charges linked to the Epstein case.
Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail, when he was found dead in his cell on Aug. 10 at the age of 66. He had pleaded not guilty to the trafficking charges involving dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14. His death was ruled by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office as a suicide by hanging.
Martin Weinberg, one of Epstein’s lawyers, didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times on the developments in France.
The French investigation is broadly probing possible charges of rape of minors 15 and older, sexual aggression, and criminal association; prosecutors haven’t yet named any suspects. The aim is to uncover any infractions in France as well as on any French victims abroad and to determine whether any French citizens were linked to crimes.
France-based advocacy group Innocence in Danger, which has also been gathering testimony, said the police appeal is proof that “the affair is being taken seriously.”
“It’s necessary and it can perhaps allow people who have things to say, victims and witnesses, to understand that France is interested,” Homayra Sellier, the group’s president, told The Associated Press.
She said she hopes that will also encourage witnesses who wrote anonymously to the group to come forward and testify to investigators. About 10 people have contacted the group in connection with the Epstein case, and testimonies that weren’t anonymous have been forwarded to French prosecutors, she said.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has said she was directed to have sex with a number of men, including French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, according to nearly 2,000 pages of documents that were unsealed last month.
Brunel was a frequent Epstein companion who occasionally flew on his plane and visited him in jail in Florida, where Epstein served 13 months as part of a deal for a 2008 guilty plea, according to records.
Brunel founded MC2, a modeling agency based in Miami, which he reportedly created with financial help from Epstein. The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times, but it told The Guardian last month that it denied any connection to Epstein’s alleged crimes. They also said Brunel was no longer actively working at the company.
The men named in the documents have all previously denied Giuffre’s accusations. Giuffre, in the 2016 deposition, said she was directed by Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and a longtime associate of Epstein, to have sex with the men.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.