Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, is under scrutiny following allegations of sexual exploitation. A recent BBC News investigation uncovered claims from eight men who assert that Jeffries orchestrated a complex scheme to recruit them for sexual events. The investigation spanned two years, revealing a disturbing pattern of exploitation at upscale locations, including Jeffries’ New York residence and luxury hotels in global fashion hubs.
The BBC report portrays the exploitation as a meticulously organized operation. Recruiters were tasked with enticing young men to Jeffries’ gatherings in cities such as London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh, with commissions of up to $1,000 per referral. Before attending these events, a personal “groomer” was alleged to have shaved body hair off some of the men. Once at these events, attendees were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, leaving them unable to retain a copy or speak out.
Misleading Promises and Manipulation
The young men claimed they were drawn into these events through intermediaries reporting to Jeffries and his British partner, Matthew Smith. Half of them assert they were misled about the nature of the events. While others knew the events had a sexual aspect, they remained uncertain about the expectations, often hoping it would lead to modeling opportunities with Abercrombie & Fitch.
BBC identified the middleman responsible for recruiting these men as Jim Jacobson. He was described as a gatekeeper during Abercrombie & Fitch’s heyday in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Timeline of Alleged Abuse
The reported abuse occurred between 1992 and 2014 when Jeffries resigned abruptly after 22 years at the company’s helm amid declining sales and controversies.
One of the alleged victims, David Bradberry, claimed that Jacobson, the intermediary, introduced him to Jeffries in 2010. Bradberry stated that he was coerced into a compromising situation with the promise of modeling opportunities.
Legal Response and Investigation
A&F, in response to the allegations, expressed shock and disgust and initiated an independent investigation into the matter. Two former US prosecutors have called for an inquiry to explore potential sex trafficking charges based on the allegations.
The allegations against Mike Jeffries have sparked significant public attention and a call for a thorough investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued in this case. Abercrombie & Fitch has voiced its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for abuse, harassment, or discrimination.