Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into rape and sexual aggression against underage girls involving the US financier and society figure Jeffrey Epstein. There is already an investigation underway in the US. Epstein died in his cell, apparently by his own hand, 10 August in New York.

The investigations are in the hands of the Central Office for the repression of violence against persons. They will be concerned with offences committed in France but also outside France against or by French citizens, according to the Procureur of Paris Rémy Heitz. The offences concerned can incur prison sentences of at least 5 years.

The Procureur’s office has decided to take action based on the evidence submitted to it and after ‘sharing information’ with the relevant US authorities.

The investigation follows a complaint by the charity Innocence in Danger in July. Two days after the death of Epstein the charity published a letter insisting that the Procureur took action.

On 22 August the charity claimed to have witness statements from ten victims of ‘acts committed on French soil’ related to the 66 year old Epstein, who owned a flat in the Avenue Foch in Paris.

In 2011 a witness alleged amongst other things that Epstein had sexually abused very young French girls which were sent to him as a ‘surprise birthday present’. According to US and British media, the witness claimed that the young girls were sent to the US by a former associate of Epstein, the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Brunel, who founded the model agencies Karin Models and MC2 Model Management.

Epstein was arrested on July 6 and charged in New York for organizing, between 2002 and 2005, a network of dozens of young girls with whom he is alleged to have had forced sexual relations in his numerous properties, notably in Manhattan, in Florida and an island in the Caribbean.

The US businessman was accused in the United States of organizing a network for the exploitation of young girls and sexual offences against minors. He had previously been convicted in 2008 but avoided a trial by a plea bargain and was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Two days before his death Epstein signed a will in which he left 579 million dollars in a blind trust, which effectively hides the identities of the beneficiaries.

The affair has assumed great significance because of Epstein’s known association with hundreds of well-known names including former President Clinton, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Andrew.

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