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Ex-Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Reportedly Under FBI Inquiry for Alleged Sex Crimes

Mike Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith are being investigated by federal agencies following allegations that they sexually exploited and abused young men at parties they hosted in the US and worldwide.
Abercrombie & Fitch store
Mike Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith are being investigated by federal agencies following allegations that they sexually exploited and abused young men at parties they hosted in the US and worldwide. (Shutterstock)

The former CEO of the clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch is reportedly being investigated by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for alleged sex crimes.

Mike Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith are being investigated by federal agencies following allegations that they sexually exploited and abused young men at parties they hosted in the US and worldwide, BBC News first reported.

The FBI and the US attorney’s office with the eastern district of New York are reportedly interviewing witnesses and issuing subpoenas as part their investigation.

Representatives for the FBI and US attorney’s office declined to comment on the investigation.

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An attorney for Jeffries did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian.

Brad Edwards, who is representing victims in the suit, told the Guardian he was unaware of an FBI investigation, but was working to get “justice” for others.

“I don’t know what the FBI is investigating. We, however, are leaving no stone unturned in our investigation, and we intend to get justice for these men,” Edwards said via email.

The investigation into Jeffries and Smith comes after a BBC investigation in October 2023 found that the pair had been accused of sexual exploitation by several men at events held in London, Paris and Marrakech between 2009 and 2015.

Other events took place at US properties owned by Jeffries and Smith.

According to the BBC investigation, Jeffries and Smith would engage in sexual contact with the young men or order the men to have sex with each other. All men involved reported being paid after the events, given thousands of dollars in cash.

Most men reported that they were recruited for said events by a middleman hired by Jeffries and Smith. The man allegedly sexually “auditioned” the men by requesting oral sex or performing it on them.

At least four of the men who attended such events said they were told sex would not be expected or were deceived about the nature of the event. Others said that the possibility of later modeling for Abercrombie & Fitch was brought up before attending said events.

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One man told the BBC that he believed his drink had been spiked at an event after Jeffries attempted to kiss him during a dance performance. The man said that he fell asleep in a backroom and woke up to find a condom inside him.

“When I put things together, I believe there is a very good possibility I was drugged and raped. I’ll probably never, never know for sure the answer of what happened,” the man told BBC.

Most of the men who spoke to the BBC said they felt degraded and harmed because of their experience with Jeffries and Smith.

“My feeling of being in that room was: an animal. I was not a human to any of these people. I was a body. I was being presented to someone, to do what they wanted with,” former model Barrett Pall told BBC, referring to his time at the events.

“What happened to me changed my life – and not for the better,” Pall added.

Jeffries and Smith are also accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually abusing more than 100 young men in a sex-trafficking operation funded by Abercrombie & Fitch.

The suit alleges that young men were deceived into attending events “under the guise of providing them with the modelling opportunity of their dreams – becoming an Abercrombie model”, the BBC reported. The civil suit claims that Abercrombie & Fitch gave Jeffries access to resources to host events where the sexual exploitation of the young men took place during his tenure as CEO, claims uncovered in the BBC investigation.

For years, Jeffries has remained a controversial figure outside of the alleged sex crimes.

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Jeffries, who led Abercrombie & Fitch from 1992 to 2014, has been praised for bringing renewed attention to the clothing brand and transforming it into a clothing powerhouse among younger buyers in the 90s and early 2000s.

But Jeffries has been accused of promoting a racist and discriminatory culture at Abercrombie & Fitch. The clothing brand has also come under fire for promoting clothing with racist or heavily sexualised slogans.

By Gloria Oladipo


Further Reading

Case Study | Abercrombie & Fitch’s Brand Reinvention

Once a staple among American teens, the retailer faltered in the 2010s after failing to keep pace with shifting consumer preferences. But through a strategy rooted in customer centrism, a revamped product offering and changes to the internal structure of the company, the brand’s turnaround is taking hold.

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