Jean Luc Brunel ran a Miami-based modeling agency launched in part with a $1 million investment from Jeffrey Epstein. In exchange for the contribution, Brunel is alleged to have funneled young models to the now-deceased pedophile.
Brunel vanished after Epstein’s suicide, before being spotted in South America in September, according to the French outlet Le Parisien. French authorities are investigating him for rape, sexual assault and his ties to Epstein, but Brunel has denied that any misconduct arose from his relationship with the perverted financier, who hung himself in a prison cell weeks after his July 6 arrest on child sex trafficking charges.
But men like Brunel and Epstein are nothing new in the world of high fashion.
“There are solid people in the industry,” supermodel Kathy Ireland told Fox News. “There are also a lot of predators.”
The majority of female models enter the fashion industry between the ages of 13 and 16. Their age and the often unfamiliar surroundings in which they find themselves make them especially vulnerable to sexual predators like Epstein.
“Before entering the modeling world, my universe was as far as I could ride my skateboard in Santa Barbara,” said Ireland, who started working at age 16. “When I came to the city [New York], I was very naïve. I thought that all adults would be good, honest, respectable people like my mom and dad.”
She was wrong.
Ireland recalled her narrow escape from a harrowing early job. The owner of the agency she worked for scheduled her with a photographer who was said to be a good friend of the agent. Ireland quickly learned that the photographer had seedy intentions when she got in a car with him and headed to a hotel.
“This photographer had set this up so that there was one hotel room and it’s only one bed in the hotel room and I was expected to stay with him,” Ireland said.
“We were on a freeway. I was contemplating, ‘What do I do? Do I jump out of a car on the freeway?’”
Situations like this were commonplace, and according to Ireland, agents were often complicit.
“What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys,” she said. “They’re not playboys. They’re predators.”
“It’s illegal to have sex with a child, with a minor, and that’s not consensual. There’s nothing consensual about that.”
Ireland has previously discussed an incident when she punched a photographer for getting physical with her after she refused to take off her clothes.
Kathy Ireland: “People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.” (Sipa via AP Images)
“I said, ‘No’ and he said, ‘You model swimsuits.’ People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.”
“So often young girls come to me, they see the glossy retouched images and they see the covers and they want to model. It looks so fun and beautiful and glamorous and easy and they don’t see everything that goes into it.”
What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys. They’re not playboys. They’re predators.— Kathy Ireland
The life of a model can include 18-hour days without breaks, months without payment for work, living in crowded “model apartments,” and going into debt. Models coming from other countries can become beholden to their agents for necessities like visas, housing, and food.
In addition to this poor treatment, young models are often unchaperoned leaving them vulnerable to predators like Epstein. Funneling in young women from overseas can be as easy as filling out a temporary visa.
To help combat this, Model Alliance, a policy and advocacy group founded by former model Sara Ziff, pushed the passing of the Child Model Act in New York in 2013. The law affords child models the same basic rights and protections as child performers like actors, singers and dancers. Prior to the law’s passage, models under 18 years old were not protected under New York’s labor law.
Ziff, who began modeling at age 14, was surprised.
“New York is the center of the American fashion industry and the fashion industry relies very heavily on underage girls,” Ziff said.
“One of the problems that we’ve seen for many years in the industry has been agencies representing 14, 15, 16-year-old girls who are thrust into a very adult environment and are walking at New York Fashion Week and appearing in magazines and advertising campaigns and presented as adults.”
Ziff had a similar experience to Ireland when, at 14 years old, she was told to take her clothes off by a photographer.
“Being put on the spot to pose nude or semi-nude was pretty common. No advance notice or consent, and a lot of difficulty getting paid,” she said. “Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid. When I eventually left after enduring quite a lot of abuse, that agency withheld my earnings — they refused to pay me.”
Under New York State’s Child Model Act, a child model under 16 years old must be accompanied at work by a “responsible person designated by the parent or guardian.” A parent or guardian must also set up a trust account for the child and “an employer must assure that at least 15 percent of the child model’s earnings are put into that trust account.”
Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid.— Sara Ziff, former model
These safeguards may protect young models from some of the industry’s pitfalls, but predators still lurk.
Anita Teekah, the senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon, counts the lack of financial transparency among many things that leave underage models vulnerable.
“Models are told they are dispensable. They are very much inhibited from airing grievances for fear of retaliation. If you’re underage, this compounds all of this,” Teekah said.
Anita Teekah, senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon. Source: Safe Horizon/Dana Rosenwasser
“There’s so much harmful behavior that has been deeply normalized. Once something becomes normalized, it’s hard to fight it. It doesn’t mean it’s right or legal, but because it’s normalized it’s harder to fight.”
This is the slippery slope into trafficking, according to Teekah. Young women are often unaware of their rights, which leaves them defenseless.
“This is going to sounds pessimistic, but it’s human nature to try to exploit people,” Teekah said. “It’s easier to get away with these things when you have people who are vulnerable and won’t speak out.”
Though more protections are in place for models, there is still work to be done, a fact highlighted by the Epstein scandal.
Ziff recalls meeting Epstein as a young model. She came away from the encounter unscathed but credits that to her circumstances.
Kathy Ireland during an interview with “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on June 23, 1999. (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
“He might have recognized that I was not as vulnerable perhaps and was coming from a slightly different background from some of these other girls who he allegedly abused,” she said. “I am all too familiar with the overlap between trafficking and modeling and unfortunately it’s a very real problem that’s taken the Jeffrey Epstein case for people to even, it seems, acknowledge or be concerned about it.”
“But it’s not surprising to people who work in the industry,” Ziff continued. “Jean Luc Brunel’s behavior was well-known. I heard from other agents over the years about him so none of this is anything that’s new and unfortunately nothing yet has been done really to address it. It’s still going on.”
Chloe Olsen and Kathy Ireland attend The Daily Front Row’s 7th annual Fashion Media Awards on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Daily Front Row, Inc.)
Fox News reached out to Brunel’s former attorney Joe Titone who recently communicated with his client by phone. Titone had no comment regarding the pending allegations and says he does not know Brunel’s whereabouts.
Ireland had no direct contact with Epstein, but calls him a “familiar character,” and understands how young girls could become prey to those like him.
“I can see how young girls are susceptible. Many of them have never left home before—naïve like I was, trusting,” she said. “The ugliness of it takes different forms and there’s something about seeing a person in an image. We can objectify people and dehumanize them and somehow justify that it’s okay to abuse them, to rape them, to discard them.”
Kathy Ireland’s novel Fashion Jungle is set for release January 2020.
Ireland, who is working on a novel about the industry called “Fashion Jungle,” acknowledges the good works done in the industry, but remains aware of its dark side.
“I feel very grateful to have survived the industry because it’s rough,” she said. “It is a jungle out there and my hope is that the young people there will survive this jungle and we’ll share their stories.”
It is now a standard trope that whites pose a severe threat to blacks. That may have once been true, but it is no longer so today.
This month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its 2018 survey of criminal victimization. According to the study, there were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations (excluding homicide) between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90%, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10%.
Blacks are also over-represented among perpetrators of hate crimes, by 50%, according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24%. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
You would never know such facts from the media or from Democratic talking points. This summer, three shockingly violent mob attacks on white victims in downtown Minneapolis were captured by surveillance video.
On Aug. 3, in broad daylight, a dozen black assailants, some as young as 15, tried to take a man’s cellphone, viciously beating and kicking him as he lay on the ground. They jumped on his torso like a trampoline, stripped his shoes and pants off as they riffled through his pockets, smashed a planter pot on his head and rode a bike over his prostrate body.
On Aug. 17, another large group kicked and punched their victim until he was unconscious, stealing his phone, wallet, keys and cash. In July, two men were set upon in similar fashion. Such attacks have risen more than 50% in downtown Minneapolis this year.
The Minneapolis media have paid fleeting attention to these videos; the mainstream national media, almost none (CNN blamed the attacks on police understaffing and ignored the evident racial hatred that was the most salient aspect of the attacks). This year’s installments of the usual flash mob rampages on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor have also been ignored.
If the race of perpetrators and victims in any of these incidents were reversed, there would be a universal uproar, with public figures across the board denouncing “white supremacist” violence and calling for a national reckoning regarding white racism. But because the violence doesn’t fit the standard narrative about American race relations, it is kept carefully off stage.
Today’s taboo on acknowledging the behavioral roots of criminal-justice-system involvement, multi-generational poverty and the academic-achievement gap isn’t a civil rights advance. To the contrary, it will ensure that racial disparities persist, where they can be milked by opportunistic politicians and activists seeking to parade their own alleged racial sensitivity and deflect attention away from the cultural changes that must occur for full racial parity to be realized.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal, from which this column was adapted.
Michael Barnett returned to Lafayette Wednesday to be booked for charges of neglect of a dependent stemming from allegations he and his ex-wife, Kristine Barnett, abandoned their adopted daughter here in July 2013 before moving to Canada.
Kristine Barnett had not turned herself as of Wednesday evening, according to jail records.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the Barnetts’ daughter told a Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s deputy in September 2014 that she came to the U.S. in 2008 as part of an adoption program. She said she had a form of dwarfism known as spondyloepiphyseal. The disorder is known for causing skeletal abnormalities, and on occasion, vision and hearing issues.
The affidavit stated that Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital records show a doctor examined Barnett’s daughter and approximated her to be 8 years old in 2010.
Prosecutors say that the Barnetts adopted the girl, who was from Ukraine, in 2010. WISH TV reported that Kristine Barnett told its news team that the family was scammed by the adoption, and the girl was actually an adult with mental health disorders.
The hospital also conducted a skeletal survey in June 2012 and approximated her age as being 11 years old. The probable cause affidavit does not give an exact date for when the survey was conducted.Get the News Alerts newsletter in your inbox.
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The Barnetts legally changed the girl’s age from 11 to 22, according to prosecutors. Michael Barnett told authorities in September 2019 that his wife told their daughter to say she was 22 if anyone asked and to explain that she looked young for her age.
Asked Wednesday how a person’s age can be changed, Michael Barnett’s attorney said they would address that issue in the court process.
A warrant is still outstanding for Barnett’s ex-wife, Kristine Barnett.
To change a birth record, one has to petition a court, present evidence and persuade a judge to change the records, according to the Indiana State Health Department’s website.
Those records are not open to public inspection.
Prosecutors say the Barnetts, who lived an hour away in Hamilton County at the time, rented the girl an apartment and moved her there. Then the Barnetts and their three biological sons moved to Canada, according to the probable cause affidavit and records from the Barnett’s 2014 divorce.
The Barnett family moved to Canada so their eldest son, Jacob — a physics prodigy — could pursue his college education, according to the couple’s divorce records. He was 15 at the time, based on his date of birth in the divorce filing.
In fall 2013, Michael Barnett moved back to Indiana “after an incident impacting the children,” Kristine Barnett stated in a court document. The divorce records do not state what that incident was.
Michael Barnett never returned to live with the family, according to the divorce records.
In February 2014, Michael filed for divorce from Kristine. That same year, their daughter was evicted from her Lafayette apartment, telling authorities four months later that she had not seen her family since they left the country. It is not clear where she was living at that time.
A former neighbor near remembered that the girl attended classes at Lafayette Adult Resource Academy.
“She quit coming to class, and we didn’t know what happened to her,” Margaret Axsom said.
The divorce records also indicates that in 2014, Kristine Barnett was in discussions over movie rights to “The Spark,” which is Kristine Barnett’s book about Jacob’s autism diagnosis and subsequent discovery of his intellectual gifts.
On their divorce petition filed Feb. 3, 2014, and on the subsequent decree published in July 2014, Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett stated they did not adopt any minor children during their marriage.
But prosecutors allege the Ukrainian girl was only 12 or 13 when the Barnett family moved to Canada.
A Facebook message from the Journal & Courier sent to a page that appears to be Kristine Barnett’s had not been answered as of Wednesday.
A Facebook group page titled “Learning the Spark” appears to be administered by Kristine Barnett and appears to be based on Kristine Barnett’s book about the Barnett’s son, Jacob, who initially was diagnosed with autism.
In this Indianapolis Star file photo from April 2013, Jacob Barnett, 14, right, smiles as his mother Kristine Barnett shows her new book, at their Westfield home. The boy genius, who has autism, loves the theoretical study of physics, as well as math, including trigonometry. His mother, has written the book, “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.” (Photo: Kelly Wilkinson / The Star)
That page has a post Wednesday from one of the group’s members. In that post, the group member offers a defense and explanation of the allegations against the Barnetts.
Since Kristine Barnett has not responded to the Journal & Courier’s request for an interview, it cannot verify the assertions made in Wednesday’s post.
Follow Ron Wilkins on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.
When Oklahoma City Council member JoBeth Hamon was sworn in early this year, she chose to use a copy of Marxist Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” rather than the Bible.
While there’s no law or policy that requires the use of a Bible for swearing-in ceremonies, Hamon upset traditions going back to ninth-century England.
In an email to me, Hamon explained that she comes from a social services background, so she wanted to center her campaign “on uplifting voices that aren’t often at the table when our governments make decisions”— the homeless, the car-less, and so forth, from whose perspective, she claimed, Zinn told U.S. history.
“A People’s History,” she thought, “would be a good reminder of who I seek to serve.”
Implicit in the ritual of taking oaths on the Bible is the acknowledgment of the need for God’s guidance—something that U.S. presidents have signaled since George Washington used his own personal Bible as the sacred object for his oath.
In Washington’s first inaugural address, he offered his “fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe,” and in his Farewell Address reminded the nation, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” And “national morality” could not “prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Washington asked, “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?”
Hamon sought the guidance not of God, but of a supporter and almost certainly a card-carrying member of the Stalin-controlled Communist Party USA, according to FBI files. Like others at the time, Zinn seems to have dropped his official membership in the Communist Party in order to infiltrate U.S. institutions, in his case by teaching at Spelman College and Boston University, where he attained a cult-like following.
His “A People’s History of the United States,” which has sold a record 2.6 million copies, casts George Washington as a racist money-grubber and Ho Chi Minh as the true Thomas Jefferson. It presents Soviet-backed insurgencies around the world as local independence movements and American women as slaves.
The 1949 communist takeover of China is presented as “the closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government”—in stark contrast to the “corrupt dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek.” The 100 million human beings that Mao and other communist dictators murdered in the 20th century are ignored. Zinn’s “history” was cobbled together from dubious sources—and by dishonest quotation that makes authors say the opposite of what they intended.
President Donald Trump has vowed that “America will never be a socialist country.” But the increasing support for socialism in our country, the politicization of everything, and worship of Zinn show that even if the president is right, it will be a close contest.
Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” which follows the contours of Communist Party USA leader William Z. Foster’s “Outline Political History of the Americas,” has been gaining influence exponentially since its original publication in 1980. It’s used in classrooms, in teacher-training courses, in the dozens of Zinn-inspired curricular materials available from the nonprofit Zinn Education Project, and in library books and textbooks that cite passages from it.
Our tax dollars support this indoctrination in other ways, such as a recent “teach-in” at the Smithsonian, a credit-bearing workshop for teachers that used Zinn’s twisted and plagiarized version of the discovery of America, and trained them in conducting an “Abolish Columbus Day” campaign in the classroom. The National Endowment for the Arts supported the Kronos Festival, where Zinn’s “penetrating words” were used to “unite music with energized action.”
Two generations have been steeped in Zinn’s America-hating history, and we are seeing its influence pervade our workplaces, politics, arts, and culture, especially among millennials. One of the most famous of that generation, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in claiming that ICE detention centers were “concentration camps,” mimicked Zinn’s false depiction of earlier U.S. detention facilities for Japanese Americans during World War II.
Other less-famous millennials elected to political office have specifically claimed the history professor, who died in 2010, as their inspiration. Newly elected District Attorney Natasha Irving of Waldoboro, Maine, cited Zinn’s autobiography, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” in her inaugural speech: “As district attorney, I cannot be neutral in the face of mass incarceration. I cannot be neutral in the prosecution of the sick for being sick, the poor for being poor.”
As if any of this were the reality of life in the United States—rather than the lies and distortions of Howard Zinn.
Mary Grabar holds a doctorate in English from the University of Georgia and is a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Grabar is the author of “Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History that Turned a Generation against America,” recently published by Regnery History.