Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Accused of Trafficking Male Models

Model Barrett Pall was one of 12 models to come forward. Courtesy Facebook.

Mike Jeffries, the former CEO of popular clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch, has been accused of using his power to lure young male models to parties hosted in his home with his partner, Matthew Smith, and at hotels around the world. These parties were sexual in nature, and the men were all paid to attend.

Twelve men spoke with BBC news during a two-year-long investigation of Jeffries and his behavior. Six of the men claimed to have been misled about the purpose of the parties, while the others said they knew they were sexual but not that they were expected to participate in any way.

This was facilitated through a middleman, James Jacobson, who would recruit the men, all aspiring models, by promising them that he was the gatekeeper to a direct line to Jeffries. Jacobson would often tell the men that if they performed sex acts with him, he could make sure they got seen by the right people at the company. He used this method to traffic the young men to different parties around the world. Each time the men would be paid, and each time were expected to engage sexually in some way, either with Jeffries and his contemporaries or with other men recruited for the parties.

Abercrombie & Fitch is known for its use of male models to attract young people to its stores. For a young man interested in getting into modeling, having a direct line to the top is a dream come true. Having continual promises of career growth to attend parties with Jeffries and his friends kept many of the men on the line, despite the coercion into sex acts.

Barrett Pall, a popular gay TikToker who talks about male sexual assault and the toxic culture of the modeling industry and self-appointed “Big Brother” of young men seeking to get into modeling, was one of the individuals who came forward. He claimed that he was recruited by another model who received a “referral fee” to recruit him as a replacement for “some sort of sexual experience” with the couple.

Another man, identified only as Alex, shared that he was told he would be stripping at the party, but that when he got there the hosts began to get physical. When he went to the back room to get away, he fell asleep, and woke up with a condom inside him, fearing he had been drugged and assaulted. Alex also claimed that he first had to perform oral sex on Jacobson before he could go to the parties. Alex is straight.

While BBC news has reported this, no formal investigation has been opened on Jeffries, Smith, or Jacobson. Independent former US prosecutors have called for an investigation to determine whether charges for sex trafficking can be brought up on Jeffries and his contemporaries.

Another man who came forward, David Bradbury, filed a lawsuit against Jeffries in a New York court. Jeffries, in response, requested his legal fees to be paid by Abercrombie & Fitch. Jeffries claimed the company agreed to cover costs associated with lawsuits tied to his work for the company. Abercrombie & Fitch, which has publicly disavowed Jeffries, claims the lawsuit is not tied to his role as CEO.

Many of the men have also accused Abercrombie & Fitch photographer, Rick Day, of using his role to coerce men into sexual behavior.

This situation is ongoing and likely to develop further as the lawsuit in New York continues.

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