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Ex-CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch ‘vehemently denies’ sex trafficking allegations

  • Published
    22 hours ago
Image source, BBC/AP

The US company Abercrombie & Fitch, its ex-CEO Mike Jeffries, and his partner Matthew Smith have asked a court to dismiss a sex trafficking lawsuit.

Mr Jeffries says that the claims fall outside the statute of limitations, and are “meritless”.

A&F says the lawsuit failed to show it knew about the alleged exploitation, and cannot be held liable.

Last October’s lawsuit alleged the firm had funded a “criminal enterprise” run by Mr Jeffries over two decades.

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It also alleges that A&F allowed Mr Jeffries “unfettered access” to corporate resources including a jet, transportation, and unlimited amounts of cash to facilitate a “sex trafficking venture” while he was CEO.

The legal complaint, filed by former model David Bradberry and others in the Southern District of New York, accusing Mr Jeffries and his British partner Mr Smith of sex trafficking, sexual misconduct and rape.

The lawsuit followed a a BBC investigation into allegations Mr Jeffries and his partner exploited men for sex at events they hosted around the world, including in New York, London and Marrakesh.

In response to the legal claim, documents filed by Mr Jeffries’ lawyers state that he “vehemently denies every allegation made against him” in the civil lawsuit, and “asks the court to look beyond the sensationalised narrative presented by the plaintiff, and to address the glaring legal deficiencies in the complaint, which necessitate the dismissal of this action”.

A separate legal document filed on behalf of Mr Smith also asks for the lawsuit to be dismissed because the allegations “concern events that allegedly occurred in 2010,” and claim they have been “time-barred since 2011”.

The document states that the claim “does not detail any specific, factual occurrences” of an alleged sexual offence by Mr Smith.

A&F filed a separate response, arguing that the retailer had no knowledge of the “supposed trafficking venture” or alleged sexual misconduct, and “up until the moment that the BBC’s reporting was released in October 2023, there was nothing public about the allegations against Jeffries”.

The document claims: “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.”

“A&F abhors sexual abuse and condemns the alleged conduct by Jeffries and others described in the complaint in the strongest possible terms. But nothing in the complaint plausibly alleges that the company was aware of, participated in, or had anything to do with the exploitation alleged by plaintiff, or that A&F can be held liable for it now,” the company adds.

A&F also argues that that the lawsuit “does not provide any facts supporting its conclusory and unsupported allegation that A&F provided compensation to victims of alleged Jeffries’ sexual abuse”.

Separate to the civil lawsuit, the BBC understands that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun an investigation, and that FBI agents have been interviewing and issuing subpoenas to potential witnesses.

Mike Jeffries is considered the modern-day-founder of A&F after he transformed the brand in the 1990s from a failing heritage outfitter into a multi-billion-dollar teen retailer.

He stepped down in 2014 following declining sales and left with a retirement package valued at around $25m (£20.5m), part of which has now been suspended, the company says.

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More on this story

If you’re in the UK: Watch Panorama’s The Abercrombie Guys: The Dark Side of Cool, on BBC iPlayer now and listen to the podcast series, World of Secrets: Season 1 – The Abercrombie Guys on BBC Sounds .

If you’re in the US: The Abercrombie Guys: the Dark Side of Cool is available to watch on BBC Select.

And if you’re outside the UK, listen to the podcast series, World of Secrets: Season 1 – The Abercrombie Guys, wherever you get your podcasts.

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