French Secretary of State for Equality between men and women Marlène Schiappa and Secretary of State for Child Protection Adrien Taquet released a joint statement on Aug. 12 calling for French authorities to open up an investigation into Epstein and what he did in the country.
“The American investigation has highlighted links with France. It thus seems to us fundamental for the victims that an investigation be opened in France so that all is brought to light,” Schiappa and Taquet said in the statement obtained by France 24.
“Epstein’s death must not deny his victims the justice they are entitled to,” the ministers added. “We would like to use this occasion to highlight again our utmost determination to protect young girls from sexual violence and especially from being exploited by criminal networks, and this should result in new measures being announced during the final quarter of this year.”
A spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor’s office said they were aware of the request and have launched preliminary audits to figure out what official probe should be launched.
“The elements received at the Paris prosecutor’s office are being analyzed and cross-referenced,” the spokesperson told ABC. “The first audits are currently underway to determine whether an investigation should be opened in France.”
Besides owning property in three states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Epstein, a 66-year-old financier who was arrested for sex trafficking last month and found dead over the weekend in his jail cell, owned property in multiple countries, including France. Property records obtained by the broadcaster showed that Epstein purchased multiple properties in 22 Avenue Foch in 2002 for 1.5 million euros and an additional property in 2004 for only 20 euros.
Flight logs showed that Epstein frequently traveled to France and he was returning from Paris in July when he was arrested at an airport in New Jersey. Epstein also had a number of French contacts in his “black book,” which was published in full by Gawker in 2015.
Virginia Giuffre, who said she was Epstein’s sex slave for a number of years, and who brought a lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s one-time girlfriend and longtime associate, said in a recently unsealed deposition (pdf) that she was ordered to have sex with Jean Luc Brunel, a French modeling executive, among other men.
She said she went to Paris in 2001 with Maxwell and Epstein. She said, in her best recollection, that Maxwell “sent [her] to have sex with the owner of a large hotel chain.” She said she witnessed other girls, some as young as 12, being abused by Epstein and others in Paris.
In depositions, Maxwell denied Giuffre’s allegations, calling the girl “a liar,” and Epstein pleaded the fifth when asked about the claims.
Others have pushed for a probe of Epstein’s activities in France, including the NGO Innocence in Danger.
— Innocence en danger (@innocencedanger) July 12, 2019
“He must have had some French ‘masseuses,’ with the complicity of many people here,” the NGO’s director Homayra Sellier told French weekly L’Express. “It’s pretty obvious, given his record.”
The group issued a statement in July about Epstein and another statement on Aug. 13 calling for an investigation. It said it had sent a letter to the Paris public prosecutor asking for a probe into Epstein.
The group said it referred at least one known victim of Epstein in France.