French police launch fresh appeal for victims, witnesses in Epstein investigation

French police launch fresh appeal for victims, witnesses in Epstein investigation
© Getty Images

French law enforcement have issued a new appeal for witnesses and victims of Jeffrey Epstein to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment or assault. 

“On 23 August 2019, the Paris prosecutor’s office asked the French judicial police’s Central Bureau for Violent Crime to investigate the conduct of Jeffrey Epstein and his connections. Given the complexity of the case and its international implications, we are once again asking victims to come forward,” French law enforcement officials tweeted and posted on Facebook early Friday morning.

“The judicial police are mobilized and ready to receive statements from victims and witnesses of sexual harassment or assault. Police are urging anyone with information to come forward, regardless of when the incident occurred, what the circumstances were and who was involved,” the statement continued. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier this week, women who allege that they were sexually assaulted by one of Epstein’s associates, Jean-Luc Brunel, a French modeling agent, told The Associated Press that they were disappointed with the current pace of the country’s investigation.

The police shared a similar call for victims and witnesses on Sept. 11, but some told the AP that the message couldn’t reach those who don’t use social media or who do not follow France’s “@PoliceNationale” feeds.

“I’m disappointed,” Thysia Huisman said, a former model who is one of a dozen people who have come forward. She has alleged that she was drugged and raped in 1991 at age 18 by Brunel. “There must be more victims, but you have to encourage them to come forward." 

Brunel has denied all wrongdoing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Police Commissioner Philippe Guichard, told the AP on Friday that their September appeal for victims or witnesses, which was only released in French, was not successful.

“The witnesses and the victims tell us that they had trouble identifying us and finding the number and reaching us to give evidence,” he said.

But Guichard also blamed the “closed world” of the modeling industry for potentially intimidating some victims.

“We imagine that potential victims don’t want to speak, to report crimes, because they must feel that, ‘If I say something, will I keep my job?’ ” he told the AP.

Huisman said she was encouraged by the new call released Friday, saying that “on Twitter in French, once, is not enough to make people come forward."  

The French investigation was launched in August after Epstein, a convicted sex offender, died by suicide in police custody on sex trafficking charges involving minors.