Abercrombie & Fitch suspends $1million lifetime annual bonus to former CEO Mike Jeffries after sex trafficking allegations and lawsuit claiming fashion brand enabled him to sexually abuse male models

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Fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch has suspended its annual $1 million annual bonus to disgraced former CEO Mike Jeffries in the wake of a bombshell BBC documentary which saw him accused by male models of sexual abuse and sex trafficking. 

In a statement to the BBC on November 21, the brand said that it had come to the decision to cease paying out the bonus. It was paid in addition to Jeffries' standard pension. At the time of his retirement his package was reported to amount to $27 million. 

The documentary on the scandal aired on October 2. 

The clothing brand has been accused in a new lawsuit of allowing Jeffries, 79, to run a years-long sex trafficking operation alongside his partner Matthew Smith.

On the same day that A&F announced that it would no longer pay Jeffries' bonus, the company raised its annual net sales growth forecast, signaling strong demand for its lifestyle brands heading into the crucial holiday shopping season.

In total, Abercrombie's shares climbed 220 percent in 2023. Also this month, the company added former Nike and Apple executive Arturo Nunez to its board. 

Meanwhile, the lawsuit is being brought by alleged victim David Bradberry. His lawyer told the Wall Street Journal the company had a 'willingness to enable a sexually abusive and exploitative environment to drive profits'.

Michael S. Jeffries, former chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit against Abercrombie which accuses the brand of enabling his sexual abuse

The lawsuit has been brought by alleged victim David Bradberry who claims he was raped by Jeffries and others

In his filings, Bradberry reiterates allegations which first surfaced in a BBC documentary in which 12 men came forward with their own claims of sexual abuse.

Bradberry alleges that in 2010 when aged 23, he was approached by a 'middle man' for the couple named James Jacobson, who presented himself as an agent.

He claims Jacobson intimated that he would be denied a meeting with Jeffries unless he let him perform oral sex on him and later gave him cash for the encounter.

He alleges he was provided with Abercrombie gift cards and ordered to pick up clothes for himself ahead of a casting in May 2010. He also claimed to have been told to sign an NDA.

The lawsuit states that Bradberry was then raped by Jeffries and forced to have sex with other men at the former CEO's Hamptons home in front of Abercrombie-clad security guards. He also claims he was given a drug which made him woozy.

He received $2500 in cash and was flown to casting events in Nice, France and London under guise he would be given a modelling contract but was instead assaulted again, according to the court documents.

Bradberry claims the company was aware of the scheme and provided Abercrombie resources to pay him 'hush money'. Bradberry was never hired to work for the brand, the filings state.

The lawsuit filed Manhattan federal court on Friday is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

It also states that Smith was given 'unusual access' to the company and allowed to attend private board meetings and conduct around 170 store visits in two years. 

Barrett Pall, a former model turned life coach and activist, said he was recruited to attend a sex party in the Hamptons in 2011 at the age of 22

Mike Jeffries when he was still the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, pictured some ten years ago, has been accused of grooming young men in exchange for modelling work along with his partner Matthew Smith

Brian Bieber, a lawyer for Jeffries, told the WSJ: 'Mr. Jeffries will not comment in the press on this new lawsuit as he has likewise chosen not to regarding lawsuits in the past. The courtroom is where we will deal with this matter.'

Smith did not respond to the outlet's request for comment. 

The lawsuit seeks class-action status and states 'dozens and likely over a hundred young models' could be victims.

Some of the alleged victims also appeared in the same BBC documentary to first air Bradberry's complaints.

They include Barrett Pall, a former model turned life coach and activist who claimed he was recruited at the age of 22 by an older male model to attend an event in the Hamptons in 2022.

Pall said the model received a fee to be his 'replacement' for 'some sort of sexual experience' with the couple.

He described how the model told him that 'the further you go, the better' and alluded to career opportunities. When he arrived at the event, with staff supervising, he felt under pressure to 'perform'.

'How was I going to leave? I didn't have a car,' he said. 'I had a chaperone sitting and watching me.'

Pall said Jeffries and Smith watched as he received oral sex from another man recruited to be at the event. He also claimed to have been pressured into kissing Jeffries, who he said groped him from behind.

The lawsuit claims Matthew Smith was given an unusually high amount of access to the company and went on around 170 store visits in two years

Jeffries took the helm of the clothing empire in 1992, transforming it into one of the most popular brands in America, through shrewd marketing campaigns which included hiring attractive models to work in its stores.

He introduced a Look Book for employees and introduced topless men as greeters in stores. 

But the controversial policy which arguably built the brand quickly became a headache with a series of lawsuits filed arguing racial discrimination and ageism.

In 2014, Jeffries stepped down as CEO following a string of poor results.

Since then the brand has worked to distance itself from its raunchy image under the leadership of current boss Fran Horrowitz.

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