American fashion brand Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is being accused of destroying “the lives of dozens of young men” and funding a sex-trafficking operation.
The civil suit was filed in the Southern District of New York under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which “creates a one-year lookback window for sexual assault survivors to pursue civil claims in court for abuse that may have occurred years earlier, as long as they were over 18 at the time,” according to The National Law Review.
Victims for whom the statute of limitations has run out “can file a claim in court and seek recovery for what happened.”
The Act went into effect on November 24, 2022, meaning that window closes next month.
The A&F lawsuit names former CEO Mike Jeffries, who, according to the filing, was given “unfettered access” to resources by the company to fund his “criminal enterprise,” the BBC reports.
The outlet investigated claims made by, among others, David Bradberry, a former A&F model.
Now 37, it is Bradberry who brought the legal complaint.
The lawsuit “accuses Mr. Jeffries and his British partner Matthew Smith of sex trafficking, sexual misconduct and rape,” according to the BBC, adding that the suit “is seeking class action status.”
Civil lawyer Brad Edwards is representing some of the alleged victims.
“Because of this lawsuit and the brave men that have come forward,” he said, “Abercrombie will have to answer for its many unacceptable actions and inactions that have destroyed the lives of dozens of young men.”
Between “at least” 1992 and 2014, while Jeffries was CEO of the company, A&F knew or should have known it was providing the “financial lifeblood for a sex trafficking organization,” the lawsuit claims.
“It alleges he used A&F’s corporate resources including a jet, transportation, and unlimited amounts of cash to facilitate a sex-trafficking venture, which enabled him to accumulate ‘new victims at an alarming rate’ and he also had access to aspiring models,” the BBC reports.
“Abercrombie cared about profiting and showed absolute loyalty to Jeffries, including a willingness to spend copious amounts of money on extravagant drug and sex parties, ignoring multiple red flags of criminality in Jeffries’s corporate account activity,” according to the filing.
“With Abercrombie’s complicity, Jeffries was free to sexually abuse dozens of men, paying a tremendous amount of cash in hush money, without the fear of detection by law enforcement,” it alleges.
Jeffries forced models to take drugs and engage in sex acts with him and his partner, according to Bradberry.
Jeffries was “using the Abercrombie name… his power within the company, its clothing, its photographers, and its marketing materials in order to ensnare the young male victims into the sex-trafficking venture,” the lawsuit states.
Brittany Henderson, another civil lawyer who is representing some of the alleged victims called the case an expansion of the #MeToo movement.
“Sexual exploitation does not discriminate based on gender. Men have been exploited in the modeling and fashion industries for decades,” Henderson said. “This case is paramount to expanding the #MeToo movement across genders and eradicating sexual exploitation in the entire industry, starting with Abercrombie & Fitch.”
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