Accusers: Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Exploited Men for Sex

BBC out with a damning report about Mike Jeffries
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2023 2:00 PM CDT
Accusers: Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Exploited Men for Sex
A 2009 photo of Mike Jeffries, who was then chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Another big name is the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct. In this case, however, the bigger name involved is clothing giant Abercrombie & Fitch, and the allegations raised in a BBC investigation revolve around former CEO Mike Jeffries. The two-year investigation alleges that Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith arranged for young men to attend private "sex events" with them at swanky hotels around the world or at Jeffries' New York residences. There, they would be coerced into having sex with the older men or with each other, they say. In some cases, alleged victims believe they were drugged and raped. Two US prosecutors who reviewed the evidence say a formal investigation into whether Jeffries and Smith violated sex trafficking laws should be launched.

The story alleges that the pair used a middleman to round up younger men between 2009 and 2015, and this middleman was described "as having a missing nose covered with a snakeskin patch." The outlet identified him as James Jacobson, who denies wrongdoing and says all the younger men attended the sex-themed events "with their eyes wide open." From the story, however: "Half the men who told the BBC about their recruitment alleged they had been initially misled about the nature of the events or not told sex was involved. Others said they understood the events would be sexual, but not exactly what was expected of them. All were paid." Some said they attended with the understanding they might land modeling gigs with the company, which famously used shirtless male models in ads.

Another jarring detail: "A small group of Mr Jeffries' personal staff, who wore A&F uniforms, supervised the men—even during the sex acts—and handed them money," according to the story. Some men say Jacobson demanded sex before introducing them to their wealthy hosts (and potential career boosts). The BBC spoke to 12 men in all. Neither Jeffries, 79, who left A&F in 2014, nor Smith, 60, responded to the BBC's requests for comment. In a statement, the company itself said it was "appalled and disgusted" by the allegations and said it now has "zero tolerance for abuse, harassment or discrimination of any kind." Read the full story. (More Abercrombie & Fitch stories.)

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