The former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is under fire after some serious allegations have been made against him!
Mike Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith have been accused of sexual exploitation after eight men claimed the two facilitated their recruitment for sex events they hosted between 1992 and 2014 — the year he resigned. Buckle up, Perezcious readers, because the details of their operation are pretty horrific.
According to a new bombshell report from BBC, Jeffries and Smith ran a “well-oiled machine” in which they used “recruiters” to bring young men, many of whom were aspiring models, to sex events in London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh. The “middleman” or “casting agent” involved in the scheme was Jim Jacobson, who allegedly found all of the young men — and was paid as much as $1,000 for every referral.
Half of the guys said they were recruited by Jacobson — but were misled about the nature of the parties or were not informed that sex was involved. Others said they knew what was going on at these parties but were unaware of what was expected of them. All of them were paid to attend and hoped by doing so that they would get a modeling gig with Abercrombie & Fitch.
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But even before the event, the victims allege Jacobson often sexually “auditioned” them by either asking or offering to perform oral sex — only afterward, he would introduce them to Jeffries and Smith. Some of the young men were then sent to a personal “groomer” and had their body hair shaved off before going to the party – an experience some of them said was “dehumanizing.” All of them were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, stating that they would be sued if they ever spoke out about what happened. They also were not allowed to keep copies of that document.
Despite signing NDAs, many are bravely coming forward with their stories now. David Bradberry recalled being introduced to Jacobson in 2010 by an agent who said he was “the gatekeeper to the owners” of the fashion brand. David, who was just 23 years old at the time, told the BBC that during the meeting Jacobson suggested he get his picture taken by Abercrombie & Fitch’s official photographer Bruce Weber.
Per BBC, Weber often photographed the aspiring models Jacobson would later introduce to Jeffries — but first he would allegedly have a “test run” with them. David said he had been made to think “this is where everybody gets their start,” adding:
“Jim made it clear to me that unless I let him perform oral sex on me, that I would not be meeting with A&F or Mike Jeffries. I was paralyzed. It was like he was selling fame. And the price was compliance.”
David went through with it — and ended up being paid $500 afterward. Looking back, he recognizes the meeting was “a red flag,” but he believed Jim “was just a creepy old dude that I wouldn’t have to see again.” That was not the case. David ran into him after accepting an invite to a daytime event at Mike’s home in the Hamptons. Before the event, Jacobson allegedly gave him an A&F gift card to buy an outfit — which made the whole thing feel “legitimate” and “official” to him.
While at the mansion, David told both Mike and Matthew about his dream to become an Abercrombie & Fitch model. That’s when, he says, things took a turn and Jeffries took “poppers” before having sex with him. During the incident, David told the BBC he “didn’t feel safe to say ‘no’ or ‘I don’t feel comfortable with this’” due to the home’s “secluded” location and the presence of Jeffries’ staff members, who handed the victims envelopes with thousands of dollars of cash when they left.
This doesn’t sound like legitimate fashion industry practice — it sounds like sex trafficking.
David wasn’t the only one who spoke out. Barrett Pall shared with the BBC he was recruited for these events in 2011 at the age of 22 and was told by a recruiter, who was an older A&F model, that he would be a “replacement” for “some sort of sexual experience with the couple.” Although Barrett didn’t want any part of this, he felt he had to since the recruiter had been helping him out financially.
When Barrett accepted, the recruiter informed him that “the further you go, the better” — alluding to the fact that he would receive some career opportunities for having sex. He recalled one of the other guys recruited for the event performed oral sex on him while Mike and Matthew watched. When the pair began to hook up with two other men, Barrett claimed Jeffries groped him from behind:
“This experience, I think it broke me. I think that this stole any ounce of innocence that I had left. It mentally messed me up. But with the language I now have today, I can sit here and tell you that I was taken advantage of.”
So, so awful. At this time, neither Jeffries nor Smith have spoken out about the allegations. However, a spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch stated to The Post:
“We are appalled and disgusted by the behavior described in the allegations against Mr. Jeffries, whose employment with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ended in 2014, nearly ten years ago. Speaking up and coming forward is not easy, and our thoughts are with those who bravely raised their voices.”
They continued revealing that the brand has “engaged an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the issues raised,” adding:
“The company’s current executive leadership team and board of directors were not aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Jeffries. We have zero tolerance for abuse, harassment or discrimination of any kind.”
Meanwhile, two former prosecutors in the US have called for an investigation to be launched in order to determine whether sex trafficking charges should be made against them.
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If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out https://www.rainn.org/resources.
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