News (USA)

Ex-Abercrombie & Fitch CEO denies accusations he ran an international sex-trafficking ring

INDIANAPOLIS - CIRCA OCTOBER 2015: Abercrombie & Fitch Clothing Store in Indianapolis I
Photo: Shutterstock

Mike Jeffries, the embattled former CEO of clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, has responded to allegations he sexually abused young men at parties the company hosted in exchange for cash, drugs, and modeling work.

Following a damning documentary broadcast by the BBC in October and a civil lawsuit filed by his alleged victims, Jeffries is now the subject of an FBI investigation into possible sex crimes.

The 79-year-old “vehemently denies every allegation made against him,” according to court documents.

Jeffries and partner Matthew Smith were named in a civil class-action lawsuit late last year that alleges they engaged in sex trafficking with over 100 young men in exchange for high-paying modeling gigs and other favors, in what the plaintiffs call a “criminal enterprise” run by Jeffries over two decades.

Jeffries, who led the brand for 22 years, stepped down as head of the company in 2014 amid slumping sales and accusations of workplace racism, fat-shaming, and elitist branding.

His exit package included a yearly $1M bonus payment on top of a generous pension.

Those bonus payments were suspended by the company following the lawsuit allegations, according to the BBC, which broadcast the documentary in October.

The expose documented a network of middlemen used to recruit potential victims for events in London, New York, Marrakesh and other locales around the world between 2009 and 2015. The investigation found the young men were paid thousands of dollars in cash after instructions to engage in sexual acts with Jeffries and Smith or with one another.

Jeffries and Smith asked the court to dismiss the complaint, calling the claims “meritless” and arguing the plaintiffs’ evidence was insignificant and brought after a 10-year statute of limitations had expired.  

Now the FBI has opened an investigation into the allegations of rampant sexual abuse and exploitation by Jeffries and Smith, according to the BBC. The British broadcaster reports federal agents – led by agents specializing in sex crimes and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York – are interviewing multiple witnesses and issuing subpoenas.

In his latest court filing, Jeffries “asks the court to look beyond the sensationalized narrative presented by the plaintiff, and to address the glaring legal deficiencies in the complaint, which necessitate the dismissal of this action.”

The lawsuit also names Abercrombie & Fitch for supporting Jeffries’ alleged “sex trafficking venture” by authorizing “unfettered access” to corporate resources including a jet, transportation, and unlimited amounts of cash in furtherance of the effort.

The company responded, “As Jeffries himself stated through counsel in response to the BBC’s reports, the allegations ‘relate to his personal life’ and – to the extent they occurred – were carried out separate and apart from his work at A&F.”

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Detroit’s LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce is helping create a business renaissance

Previous article

GOP lawmaker fined $1000 after he spewed homophobic insults at a cop

Next article