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A modeling agent close to a disgraced American financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday in his French prison cell, where he was being held as part of an investigation into rape of minors and trafficking of minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Victims of the alleged abuse described shock and dismay that the officer, Jean-Luc Brunel, will never face trial. They described his death as a double whammy, after Epstein took his own life in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges.

Paris police are investigating Brunel’s death, the prosecution said. The circumstances of his death have not been made public and Brunel’s lawyers have not commented on it.

Brunel denied any wrongdoing and said through his attorney that he was willing to speak to investigators. Brunel’s legal team had repeatedly complained about his conditions of detention and called for his release pending trial.

Brunel, who was 70, was arrested at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in 2020 as part of an extensive French investigation sparked by US sex trafficking charges against Epstein.

A frequent companion of Epstein, Brunel was considered central to the French investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls by the American financier and his entourage. Epstein often traveled to France and had apartments in Paris.

Several women who identified themselves as victims have spoken to police since the French investigation opened in 2019 and have at times expressed frustration at the slow pace of the investigation.

One, Thysia Huisman, said the news of Brunel’s death had “shocked” her.

“It makes me angry, because I’ve been fighting for years,” Huisman, a former Dutch model who told police she was raped by Brunel as a teenager, told The Associated Press. “For me, the end of it all had to be in court. And now, all of that ending – which would help with closure – is being taken away from me.”

A lawyer representing Huisman and other victims, Anne-Claire Lejeune, said other women involved in the case felt the same way.

“Big disappointment, big frustration that (the victims) are not getting justice,” she told the AP.

She expressed doubts that the investigation would lead to a trial because Brunel was so central to the case. She also expressed concern that Brunel’s death means his accusers will not gain official acknowledgment of their victim status.

“Rebuilding (after abuse) is one of the essential steps,” Huisman said.

She expressed hope that Brunel’s death will not discourage women from continuing to speak out against abuse. The survey, coupled with a growing awareness of sexual misconduct in France, has “liberated women to talk about it”, she said. “It’s a difficult step that requires a lot of courage and strength.”

One of Epstein’s main accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has alleged that Brunel recruited women, some of them minors, to have sex with Epstein and others, luring them with promises of modeling work.

Britain’s Prince Andrew recently agreed to settle a case in which Giuffre accused him of sexual abuse when she was 17. Guiffre says it was provided to Andrew by Epstein, charges Andrew denies. The settlement, in which Andrew agreed to make a substantial donation to Giuffre’s charity, avoids a lawsuit.