Former Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) CEO Mike Jeffries allegedly engaged in sexual exploitation of male models at events he hosted in various countries. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the claims, that surfaced in a BBC Panorama documentary.
According to the BBC’s sources, FBI agents specialising in alleged sex crimes, and federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York are leading the investigation.
In the BBC’s documentary and podcast series, eight men claimed Jeffries and his British partner Matthew Smith exploited them for sex at events hosted at hotels worldwide and in the couple’s residences in New York between 2009 and 2015.
According to BBC’s own investigation, Jeffries and Smith used a middleman named James Jacobson to recruit the young men.
Meanwhile, ex-model David Bradberry filed a class action suit against A&F for allegedly enabling Jeffries to abuse likely more than 100 men from 1992 to 2014.
“Abercrombie knew that it was providing the financial lifeblood for a sex-trafficking organisation led by its CEO from at least 1992 through 2014,” as stated in the lawsuit.
A&F, whose present executive leadership team and board of directors denied awareness of Jeffries’ conduct, told the BBC it was “appalled and disgusted” with the former CEO’s alleged wrongdoing.
The fashion brand already suspended a substantial part of Jeffries’ retirement payments amounting to $1 million per year.
Jeffries stepped down from A&F in December 2014 following 11 consecutive quarters of sales decline.
During part of the time covered by the allegations, Abercrombie & Fitch’s surf-themed subsidiary brand Hollister was renowned for its use of shirtless male models outside stores on US high streets and in shopping malls.