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Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries accused of exploiting young men for sex

Mike Jeffries, the former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, has been accused of exploiting young men for sex.

Eight men claim to have attended events hosted by Mr Jeffries, 79, in his New York residences and hotels, where some were allegedly exploited or abused between 2009 and 2015.

The allegations were revealed in a BBC Panorama investigation. The programme, The Abercrombie Guys: The Dark Side of Cool, aired on Monday night on BBC One.

The alleged victims claim they were recruited by a middleman, who they describe as having a missing nose covered with a snakeskin patch. The BBC claims it has identified this man as James Jacobson.

Mr Jeffries and his British partner Matthew Smith, 60, are accused of then exploiting or abusing some of the eight men at these events.

Following a near-three-year investigation, half the men recruited told the BBC they were initially misled about the nature of the events or were not told sex was expected.

Others said they understood the events would involve sex, but not exactly what was expected of them at the events.

The BBC investigation uncovered what it has described as a “well-oiled machine,” in which so-called “recruiters” would find men to attend his events, and receive up to $1,000 from Mr Jacobson for every referral.

Mr Jacobson, described by the men as the “casting agent”, allegedly found men for the sex events. He then forwarded photos of them to Mr Jeffries and Mr Smith, the BBC claims.

Mr Jacobson has denied any wrongdoing and said men went into these events “with their eyes wide open”.

US Mike Jeffries, CEO of US clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch leaves the store on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on October 27, 2012, as some workers protest against their working conditions. They declared the management did not respect French social rules. AFP PHOTO BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
Mike Jeffries pictured leaving the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, in 2012 (Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty)

Two former US prosecutors, who independently reviewed documents uncovered by the BBC, have called for an investigation to determine whether charges for sex trafficking should be brought.

Abercrombie & Fitch, which also owns the Hollister brand, told the BBC it was “appalled and disgusted” by Mr Jeffries’s alleged behaviour.

The fashion brand added new leadership has transformed the company into “the values-driven organisation we are today” and it has “zero tolerance for abuse, harassment or discrimination of any kind”. Mr Jeffries stepped down as CEO in 2014.

The BBC claims to have made repeated attempts by letter, email, and phone over several weeks to contact Mr Jeffries and Mr Smith, inviting them to respond to a detailed list of allegations. The BBC said it has not yet received a response.

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