Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Faces Allegations of Sexually Exploiting Men

Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Faces Allegations of Sexually Exploiting Men

The former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, along with his British partner, is facing allegations of exploitation involving men recruited for sex events held worldwide.

A BBC investigation has unveiled a highly organized network that used an intermediary, identified as James Jacobson, to locate young men for these events hosted by Mike Jeffries and Matthew Smith. Eight men interviewed by the BBC claimed to have attended these events, with some alleging exploitation or abuse.

Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Faces Allegations of Sexually Exploiting Men
Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Faces Allegations of Sexually Exploiting Men

While Mr. Jeffries and Mr. Smith did not respond to requests for comment, their intermediary denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the men participated in these events willingly.

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), which also owns the Hollister brand, expressed deep concern and disgust regarding the alleged behavior.

Two former U.S. prosecutors, who independently examined documents and testimony provided to the BBC, have called for an investigation to determine if charges related to sex trafficking can be brought forth. Under U.S. law, sex trafficking encompasses luring adults to another state or country for paid sexual activities through force, deception, or coercion.

Over two decades, Mike Jeffries transformed A&F into a multi-billion-dollar teen retailer by emphasizing sex appeal, using shirtless male store models and provocative advertising. He was a controversial figure, facing allegations of discrimination, lavish expenses, and concerns about his partner’s unofficial influence within A&F.

In 2014, Mr. Jeffries resigned due to declining sales, receiving a retirement package valued at approximately $25 million. The BBC’s investigation now alleges that Mr. Jeffries exploited young adult men for sex at events held in various locations, including New York, London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh.

Through a two-year investigation, the BBC interviewed 12 men who described their involvement in or organization of events involving sexual activities hosted by Mr. Jeffries and Mr. Smith between 2009 and 2015. These events typically featured sex acts performed by the couple and financial payments to participants.

The investigation also unveiled a well-structured system for organizing these events, involving recruiters, Mr. Jacobson as the middleman, grooming of attendees, and non-disclosure agreements. It is alleged that Mr. Jeffries funded the entire operation, while Mr. Smith managed the cash payments.

Former domestic staff at Mr. Jeffries’ Hamptons home reported being instructed to leave the premises regularly, leading them to suspect unusual activities were occurring.

Several of the men stated they attended multiple events, believing that it might lead to modeling opportunities or provide some meaning to their involvement.

Legal experts have suggested that these allegations may warrant an investigation into sex trafficking due to potential coercion. However, the burden of proof for prosecutors would be high, considering the consenting adult nature of some participants.

Mr. Jacobson, the middleman, maintains that all encounters were consensual, and everyone attended the events with full awareness.

Despite repeated attempts by the BBC to contact Mr. Jeffries and Mr. Smith for their response to the allegations, they have not provided any statements.

A&F, while considering Mr. Jeffries its modern-day founder, has distanced itself from his alleged behavior, emphasizing its commitment to values and a zero-tolerance policy for abuse, harassment, or discrimination.

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