Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries and his British partner, Matthew Smith, are facing allegations of exploiting men for sex at events they hosted around the world. A BBC investigation revealed a highly organized network that used a middleman, identified as James Jacobson, to recruit young men for these events. Eight men who attended the events claimed they were exploited or abused. Jeffries and Smith have not responded to requests for comment. Abercrombie & Fitch expressed its disgust and stated that it was appalled by the alleged behavior.
The BBC investigation, which spanned two years, involved interviews with 12 men who described attending or organizing events involving sex acts hosted by Jeffries, 79, and Smith, 60, between 2009 and 2015. The men alleged that they were initially misled about the nature of the events or not informed that sex would be involved. Some mentioned the possibility of modeling opportunities with Abercrombie & Fitch being raised by the middleman or other recruiters. All participants were paid, and all except one claimed to have been harmed by the experience.
David Bradberry, one of the men involved, stated that he was introduced to James Jacobson in 2010, who described himself as the gatekeeper to the owners of Abercrombie & Fitch. Bradberry alleged that Jacobson suggested he would only meet with Abercrombie & Fitch or Jeffries if he allowed Jacobson to perform oral sex on him. Bradberry accepted an invitation to a daytime event at Jeffries’ former home in the Hamptons, where he received $500 from Jacobson. Bradberry later realized that this incident should have raised concerns.
Two former US prosecutors who independently reviewed documents and testimonies obtained by the BBC have called for an investigation into potential charges of sex trafficking. Abercrombie & Fitch, known for its provocative marketing strategies, including shirtless male store models, expressed shock and disgust at the alleged behavior.
The BBC’s investigation included extensive fact-checking of the men’s testimonies, which showed significant similarities. Supporting documents, such as emails, flight tickets, and travel itineraries, were obtained to corroborate key points. The BBC also interviewed numerous other sources, including former household staff.