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Allegations of Sexual Exploitation of Men by Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries Through Organized Operation

The former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries, is facing allegations of sexual exploitation of men through an organized operation, according to a BBC News investigation. The investigation gathered first-hand accounts and documents, leading two former U.S. prosecutors to call for an investigation into potential sex trafficking charges against Jeffries.

Mike Jeffries, ex-CEO of clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, leaves the store on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on October 27, 2012.
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

Who is Mike Jeffries?

Mike Jeffries took over Abercrombie & Fitch in the 1990s and turned it into a successful brand known for its preppy sex appeal. However, he was a controversial figure, facing claims of racial discrimination and allegations that his boyfriend, Matthew Smith, had undue influence in the company’s operations. In 2014, Jeffries stepped down as CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch with a retirement package of over $25 million.

“He was selling fame, and the price was compliance.”

The BBC interviewed 12 men who described attending or organizing events hosted by Jeffries and Smith that involved sex acts. These men stated that they were recruited by a middleman, identified as James Jacobson, who was missing part of his nose. All attendees were paid and signed non-disclosure agreements. Many of them expressed feeling harmed by the experience and described being manipulated by Jeffries and his associates.

David Bradberry is shown in this undated photo provided by BBC News.
BBC News

One aspiring model, David Bradberry, recounted an encounter where Jacobson pressured him into a sexual act in exchange for the opportunity to meet with Abercrombie & Fitch executives. Bradberry described feeling paralyzed and coerced, believing that complying with Jacobson’s demands was necessary for his career. He later attended an event at Jeffries’ house where he alleged that Jeffries drugged and had sex with him.

“This was not my choice. This was me being carefully manipulated.”

Another former model, Barrett Pall, spoke of being recruited to attend one of Jeffries’ events by an older model who financially supported him at the time. Pall described feeling pressured to engage in sexual activities during the event, while Jeffries and Smith watched. He emphasized that he was manipulated by older men who knew exactly what they were doing.

Barret Pall is shown in this undated photo from BBC News.
BBC News

All the men who spoke to the BBC mentioned receiving envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in cash from Jeffries’ staff after attending the events that involved sexual acts.

One man, identified as Alex, shared his experience of being recruited for an event in Morocco where he was flown with other men to a five-star hotel. He was struggling as a model at the time and expected to strip as part of his role. However, he was also forced into performing oral sex, feeling disgusted and manipulated because of his financial struggles.

“There is a very good possibility I was drugged and raped.”

According to Alex, he believes he was drugged at the event in Morocco as he woke up with a condom inside him. Although he never got tested for sexually transmitted infections immediately after, he later discovered that he had contracted HIV. Alex attributes the incident to the event and believes there is a strong possibility he was drugged and raped.

Two former U.S. prosecutors who reviewed the evidence provided by the BBC called for an investigation into potential sex trafficking charges against Jeffries and Smith. However, both individuals did not respond to requests for comment from the BBC about the investigation.

Abercrombie & Fitch released a statement expressing its “appallment and disgust” regarding the alleged behavior of Jeffries. The company stated that new leadership had transformed the organization and emphasized its zero tolerance policy for abuse, harassment, or discrimination of any kind. Abercrombie & Fitch also announced an independent investigation into the issues raised by the BBC’s investigation.

The former model Pall, who attended one of the events, spoke about the emotional impact the experience had on him and his efforts to speak out. He hopes that by sharing his story, he can encourage others to do the same and bring about change.

It should be noted that CBS News has sought comments from Jeffries and Smith regarding the BBC’s investigation but is still awaiting a reply. Jacobson, the alleged middleman, denied the coercive behavior allegations against him and claimed that the encounters were consensual.

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