French prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspected cases of rape of minors and other charges by the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, they announced on Friday.
"The investigations ... will focus on potential crimes committed against French victims on national territory as well as abroad, and on suspects who are French citizens," Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.
The potential charges include rape and sexual assault against minors as well as an investigation into whether Epstein and associates participated in a child sex trafficking ring.
Epstein died of suicide earlier this month in a New York prison where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His alleged victims are now going after the billionaire's estate.
Epstein was known to entertain guests at a luxury apartment on Avenue Foch near the Champs-Elysees. He was arrested in New Jersey on July 6 after his private plane landed on a flight from Paris.
One of Epstein's many influential associates was the French modeling tycoon Jean-Luc Brunel, who was accused in US court documents of procuring young girls for Epstein, as well as of rape. He has denied the accusations.
A French charity said this week they had collected 10 witness statements from either victims of Epstein's sexual abuse or someone who witnessed it.
Innocence en Danger (Innocence in Danger), which defends the rights of minors against violence and sexual abuse, said the alleged violations took place on French territory and may have involved French citizens.
cw/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)