I was driven to a chateau and raped by Epstein’s friend – a top model agent. Keeping the train ticket I used to escape helped put him behind bars four decades later

It was an incident that shaped her life for ever. When Annemarie Ettekoven was raped at the age of 20, it destroyed her confidence and crushed her career as a model before it had even begun.

Now 65, a softly spoken woman with a steel resolve who works as an historical archivist, she says that after the assault she felt so ‘stupid and ashamed’ that she kept her trauma to herself.

‘I was very cautious after that,’ she says. ‘I’m quite sure I chose the profession I did because it is behind the scenes.’

There is a grim irony, then, to the fact that she and other victims of her rapist are now at the centre of a scandal causing headlines around the world. Because the man she accuses of raping her was French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel.

Annemarie Ettekoven in 1979, when she began her modelling career in Paris

Annemarie Ettekoven in 1979, when she began her modelling career in Paris

Earlier this year, when the Epstein files were unsealed by a U.S. court — documents relating to the affairs of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein — Brunel’s name featured prominently. It sent a chill down Ettekoven’s spine.

Indeed, bit by bit, the testimony of women like her is shining a light on the links between Epstein and Brunel and providing horrifying insight into what appears to have been an industrial-scale trafficking ring between the U.S. and Europe.

Once named King of the Catwalk, Paris-born Brunel was a model scout who worked with some of the industry’s top names, including Jerry Hall and Monica Bellucci, and took credit for ‘discovering’ models Christy Turlington and Milla Jovovich.

But on his travels he also scoured cities for girls he could groom and sexually exploit, reportedly providing Epstein with more than 1,000 victims.

Fashion provided the perfect cover for their depravity. Brunel’s now-dissolved MC2 agency, for example, which represented models who walked for lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, was allegedly used to lure teenage girls with offers of modelling work. Epstein was finance adviser to Victoria Secret’s billionaire chief executive, Les Wexner.

Epstein and Brunel are now dead, having apparently committed suicide in their respective prison cells while awaiting trial.

Epstein died at the age of 66, in the U.S. in 2019, having been charged with the trafficking of minors; and Brunel at 75, in France in 2022, while awaiting the end of criminal investigations for rape, rape of minors, sexual harassment and human trafficking.

Brunel had been arrested and charged after accusations of rape by Virginia Giuffre, the woman who claims she was paid by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew, which the prince vehemently denies. For Ettekoven, it is time to tell her story. Robbed of her chance to look Brunel in the eye from the witness box, she is adamant that the world should know exactly what he did to her.

‘I just want the family to realise that their loved one was not who they thought he was,’ she says. He was twice married but had no children. ‘Some of Brunel’s surviving relatives are still hurting the victims by publicly proclaiming that he is innocent. They won’t accept that he did anything wrong. That is very cruel to his victims.’

In fact, many of the women who have so far spoken out about Brunel tell very similar tales of isolation, imprisonment and assault, pointing to a calculated and brazen modus operandi.

Today, Ettekoven lives a quiet life just outside Amsterdam. Her priorities are her work, her husband and their two grown-up children. When she was 19 she travelled to Paris to study art history at the Sorbonne. She found work as an au pair to a mother who had been a successful model with the Paris-Planning agency.

‘I’d been working for her for a while when she suggested I could make it as a model, and we went together to see Paris-Planning.’ It was May 18, 1979. At the desk, they told me I was beautiful but because I had no experience, I should start at a smaller Paris agency.’

She was directed to the Paris Karin agency, where she met the head booker, Jean-Luc Brunel, who was then 33. ‘He was very enthusiastic about my looks and keen for me to go to the countryside with him and other models to do my test shoots. He asked me to join the group at 9pm that same night and gave me an address.

‘I turned up at an apartment with my packed bag. Jean-Luc was there, along with the model agent I had met earlier. There was another French man with black hair and three other girls. They looked younger than me.’

Ettekoven says that at 11pm their party left in two cars. ‘One of the other girls told me we were going to a remote chateau to do the photoshoot.’

On the way, the group stopped at a restaurant. It was midnight. Ettekoven recalls sitting at a long table where ‘almost immediately a sexual atmosphere developed’.

French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein

French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein

‘The men were laughing at pornographic images in a magazine. I felt more and more uneasy.

‘I asked Jean-Luc in private if I could get my suitcase from his car and leave. I said that I was afraid and didn’t want to be part of this.

‘He told me that I had nothing to fear, that I was under his protection. He said, “as director of the agency, I will see that nothing will happen that you do not want”. And so I stayed. I believed him.’

Ettekoven finished her dinner and the group headed for the countryside. ‘This was an era without mobile phones or the internet. I realised in that car that no one knew where I was. It was pitch black when we arrived at the castle . . . Jean-Luc showed me to my bedroom with dark wood panelling and an antique bed. I put on my nightgown. I was very tired and ready to sleep.’

But Brunel had other ideas. ‘He knocked on my door, proposing that we do a series of photos outside, in front of the car headlights. He had convinced me that I had nothing to fear from him and so I went with him in his car.’

As the two drove down the long, dark driveway, Brunel started asking Ettekoven what she earned as an au pair. ‘I told him about 500 francs a month. He said, “You could easily get 30,000 francs a month like ***”, naming another young model he was paying that kind of money to. Then he started to kiss me and put his hand between my legs. That’s when everything turned. He told me if I didn’t give in to him, he would leave me in the woods.

‘I told him I didn’t want to get money in that way. He very slowly drove back to the castle. I got out of the car and ran inside. I stumbled on a suit of armour as I fled upstairs to my bedroom. Everyone else was in their rooms. I locked my door and vowed to leave next morning.’

Ettekoven had been in bed for just a few minutes when she heard a sound coming from the wardrobe. It was Brunel. ‘To my horror, he was passing through a hidden door in the closet between our adjoining rooms. He was almost naked, dressed in just a T-shirt and underpants. I froze. He took my arm and pulled me through the closet into his own room.

‘I struggled as he put me on his bed. I tried to get away and turned my head from him. I said in French, “I don’t want this.” He raped me anyway. I got away afterwards, back through the closet into my own room. I barricaded the door with chairs. All I could think about was running away as soon as it was light.’

On opening the shutters next morning, she said: ‘I had no idea where I was. There wasn’t a soul in sight and nowhere I could go for help. I went down for breakfast and found some of the others in a big room . . . A maid was serving a very elaborate breakfast . . . Jean-Luc entered the room. He ignored me completely. I blushed as the men made fun of me.’

Brunel with models in 2001. He is said to have scoured cities for girls he could groom and sexually exploit

Brunel with models in 2001. He is said to have scoured cities for girls he could groom and sexually exploit

Ettekoven says that Brunel and another man loudly discussed arranging for male and female prostitutes from Rouen to come to the castle that evening. They were planning an orgy and made it clear I would be a part of it. Jean-Luc said he would make nude pictures of me. I knew at that point that I had to flee.

‘There was an American girl there, a friend of the castle’s then owner. I asked her to help me leave. She took me to the owner’s office. He agreed that I didn’t fit in well there. He told me there was a railway station a short distance away. I asked him to take me to the station, with the girl in the car with us. I didn’t want Jean-Luc alerted as I was afraid he would keep me prisoner there if he knew I was trying to leave.’

Within half an hour, Ettekoven was on her way to a train station 9km from the castle. ‘The station was Forges-les-Eaux. I’ve never forgotten the name. I waited two hours there in the sunshine. All I could think was, “Thank God, I’m alive.” That dominated my thoughts. I really believed at that time, had I stayed at the castle, I wouldn’t have got out alive.’

During the two-hour wait on the platform for a train back to Paris, Ettekoven wrote down everything that had happened to her in a letter to a friend. ‘I arrived in Paris at 7pm that evening.’

The following Monday, Ettekoven returned to her work and didn’t tell anyone about what had happened to her. Throughout her adult life, she quietly carried the events of that day with her — until the death of Jeffrey Epstein in 2019. At that point, the walls were closing in at last on Brunel.

When French magistrates issued an appeal for alleged victims to come forward, Ettekoven decided she would be one of them. A few weeks later, in September 2019, Ettekoven was interviewed by police in Paris. Until then, she had told no one about what happened except for her sister and her husband.

On December 16, 2020 — 41 years after Ettekoven’s rape — Brunel was arrested. ‘I was so relieved. I no longer felt afraid,’ she says.

Yet the case against him immediately came up against a serious obstacle — the 20 year French statute of limitations on prosecutions, which meant she and most of the other women who had come forward with claims of sexual assault against Brunel were out of time to bring charges against him.

It was only when Virginia Giuffre came forward to French police that the case could proceed.

During a meeting with the investigating officer in Paris in 2021, Ettekoven was told they had discovered the exact location of the castle using her calculation of the distance to the nearest train station and drone surveillance: ‘It was Castle Gaillefontaine.’

She had her own important information for the police, too, in the shape of the draft letter she had written at the train station all those years ago, along with the train ticket she had bought for her journey back to Paris.

The chateau of Gaillefontaine, in Normandy, where Ettekoven claims she was raped by Brunel

The chateau of Gaillefontaine, in Normandy, where Ettekoven claims she was raped by Brunel

‘I found it all perfectly preserved, wrapped in an envelope inside a trunk . . . I posted the letter to a friend but kept a draft as a sort of evidence for myself. Proof that it was not just a bad dream.

‘Even though I was outside the statute of limitations, the fact I was clearly telling the truth about Brunel supported others’ cases.’

On February 19, 2022, they received the news Brunel had killed himself in his cell at Paris’ La Santé prison where he was being held on remand. ‘I was shocked, relieved and angry all at once. It was a lot to take in,’ says Ettekoven. ‘I had wanted desperately to confront him, to tell him what he had done to me.’

Last month, in a further affront to the alleged victims, Brunel’s lawyers demanded an administrative inquiry into alleged judicial failures after Brunel killed himself. They describe ‘major dysfunctions’ by the judiciary, which they are holding responsible for his death. His death ‘was not guided by guilt but a profound sense of injustice’, said Brunel’s lawyers.

‘I don’t believe that,’ says Ettekoven. ‘I believe he knew that, with all the evidence against him and the number of women willing to speak out, that he could not escape any more. I know that the evidence I kept for all those years helped to put him behind bars.’

Now another woman has launched a civil action against the Jean-Luc Brunel estate. Using the alias Jessica Kramer, she claims that Brunel drugged and assaulted her when she was working as a model in LA at the age of 18.

In testimony which is chillingly reminiscent of Ettekoven’s, she claims to have been driven to a property, where she was imprisoned and subjected to abuse, eventually escaping through a window.

Ettekoven hopes that revealing her identity will encourage still more victims to come forward. ‘I can’t imagine I was the only one abused in that place . . .

‘The thing that hurts me the most was that I trusted him. I’m sure that must have been the case with countless girls.’

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