Abercrombie & Fitch ex-CEO accused of exploiting men for sex
Mike Jeffries, ex-CEO of clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, leaves the store on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on October 27, 2012. BERTRAND GUAY/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Abercrombie & Fitch ex-CEO accused of exploiting men for sex

The ex-CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch and his British partner face allegations of exploitation from men recruited for sex events they hosted around the world.

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A BBC investigation found a highly organised network used a middleman to find young men for the events with Mike Jeffries and Matthew Smith.

Eight men told the BBC they attended these events, some of whom alleged they were exploited or abused.

Mr Jeffries and Mr Smith did not respond to requests for comment.

But the couple's middleman denied any wrongdoing and said men went into these events "with their eyes wide open".

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) - which also owns the Hollister brand - said it was "appalled and disgusted" by the alleged behaviour.

Two former US prosecutors who independently reviewed documents and testimony uncovered by the BBC have called for an investigation to determine whether charges for sex trafficking could be brought. Under US law, sex trafficking includes getting an adult to travel to another state or country to have sex for money by using force, fraud or coercion.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual acts

Over two decades from the 1990s, Mike Jeffries transformed A&F from a failing heritage outfitter into a multi-billion-dollar teen retailer by selling sex appeal, with preppy all-American shirtless male store models and provocative billboards.

Once one of America's highest-paid CEOs, he was a controversial figure who faced claims of discrimination against staff, concerns about his lavish expenses and complaints about the unofficial influence of his life partner, Matthew Smith, inside A&F.

In 2014, Mr Jeffries stepped down following declining sales and left with a retirement package valued at around $25m (£20.5m), according to company filings at the time.

The BBC has now uncovered allegations that the fashion mogul exploited young adult men for sex at events he hosted in his New York residences and luxurious hotels around the world, including in London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh.

As part of a two-year investigation, the BBC has spoken to 12 men who described attending or organising events involving sex acts run for Mr Jeffries, 79, and his British partner Mr Smith, 60, between 2009 and 2015.

The eight men who attended the events said they were recruited by a middleman, who they described as having a missing nose covered with a snakeskin patch. The BBC has identified him as James Jacobson.

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