Women who say they were raped and sexually assaulted in France by an associate of the late financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein say French authorities’ investigation of their allegations has stalled, prompting them to question officials’ commitment to the probe, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m disappointed,” former model Thysia Huisman, who has told police that a modeling agent drugged and raped her when she was 18, told the AP. “There must be more victims, but you have to encourage them to come forward.”
The women have specifically noted that French police urged potential witnesses and victims to come forward only once, over social media on Sept. 11, saying the single message in French may not have reached non-French speakers and/or those who do not follow the @PoliceNationale Facebook and Twitter accounts.
French police launched the investigation after Epstein’s August death in federal custody in the U.S. One of his accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has said modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel had pimped women and girls to Epstein and others after enticing them with offers of modeling work, according to the AP.
Prosecutors said that the investigation is ongoing.
“Investigations are carried out every day in the framework of this inquiry,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement to the AP. Thus far, French police have questioned eight accusers and four witnesses in the case.
Anne-Claire Le Jeune, an attorney for Huisman and two other women, said police are not being given the resources they need to pursue the investigation.
“As time passes, I realize that the means really aren’t being deployed,” Le Jeune said. “There is a blockage. There is something dysfunctional.”
She noted that she missed the entreaty for witnesses because she does not have a Twitter account. “If that’s the case for me, it must be the same for others,” she said. “It doesn’t reach enough people.”
Homayra Sellier, head of the French group Innocence in Danger, was similarly critical of the lack of progress.
“I am sure there are tons of people who know stuff and saw stuff. Why are they not coming forward?” Sellier said, according to the AP. “I am absolutely frustrated. I am not the only one.”