A BBC investigation shed light on a controversy involving clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch’s ex-CEO, who is accused of exploiting men for sex by holding parties all over the world including in Morocco’s La Mamounia hotel.
BBC’s piece, unveiling the findings of a two-year investigation, addresses how the ex-CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Mike Jeffries, and his British partner Matthew Smith, are now facing serious allegations of exploitation from men recruited for sex.
Eight men, some of whom said they were used or abused, told the BBC they attended these parties. The couple’s middleman, however, claimed that men entered these situations “with their eyes wide open” and denied any misconduct.
If there is anything the brand was famous for, is how it was rebranded and sold sex appeal in the 90s, leading to its massive success before going down in 2014 after sales declined.
The BBC alleges that Mike Jeffries engaged in sexual exploitation of young men at gatherings he organized at opulent hotels around the world, including London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh.
In addition to the BBC, The Guardian also published an article on the scandal, citing a Panorama investigation and further diving into BBC’s revelations.
The largest event described to the BBC was hosted in a private villa at a five-star hotel in 2011, for which dozens of men were flown to Marrakesh.
“Alex,” a straight man with a family who attended one of the couple’s parties in Marrakech as a stripper, claims that after drinking a drink that he now believes was spiked as he initially went to a room to sleep alone, woke up to find a condom inside him, which he can only assume was left by a rapist.
After that, he fell ill, and six years later he discovered he had HIV, which he claims he almost certainly caught at the Moroccan party.
BBC’s investigation mentions that the rich fashion couple’s middleman took care of recruiting men for their parties.
Half of the men who spoke to the BBC claimed they were first misinformed about the events’ nature or were not informed that sex was involved.
Others claimed that although they knew the events would be sexual, they didn’t precisely know what to expect. However, they all got paid.
These men claimed that Mike Jeffries and Matthew Smith would have sex with about four men, or “direct” them to do so. The men alleged that after the event, staff members gave them envelopes containing large sums of cash.
A personal “groomer” was presumably recruited to intimately shave the body hair of some of the males attending meetings, an experience characterized by some as “dehumanizing.”
The men in question all signed nondisclosure agreements (NDA).
Over several weeks, the BBC attempted to contact Jeffries and Smith by letter, email, and phone, requesting them to respond to a lengthy list of complaints to ensure they were fully aware of the allegations against them. They have yet to respond.