The former CEO of clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has responded to allegations made in a civil lawsuit that he and his partner Matthew Smith sexually abused young men at parties he hosted under the guise of hiring them as models.
Through court filings, Mike Jeffries, who led the brand for 22 years before leaving in 2014, and Smith asked the court to dismiss the complaint against them on the grounds that the “meritless” claims were brought after the 10-year statute of limitations had expired, and that the plaintiffs had not provided significant evidence against them.
In October 2023, the BBC published a sweeping investigation that found Jeffries and his partner Smith were accused of sexually abusing several men at events in multiple countries between 2009 and 2015. The investigation alleged that the men were paid several thousands of dollars in cash after events in which they were told to engage in sexual acts with Jeffries and Smith or with one another.
The FBI recently opened an investigation into the claims, which Jeffries declined to comment on until now. Jeffries’ lawyers said in the new filing that he “vehemently denies every allegation made against him,” and “asks the court to look beyond the sensationalised narrative presented by the plaintiff, and to address the glaring legal deficiencies in the complaint, which necessitate the dismissal of this action.”
The plaintiffs also sued Abercrombie & Fitch for allowing Jeffries to use corporate resources in support of his alleged “sex trafficking venture.” In response, lawyers for the company said, “As Jeffries himself stated through counsel in response to the BBC’s reports, the allegations ‘relate to his personal life’ and – to the extent they occurred – were carried out separate and apart from his work at A&F.”
His leadership at Abercrombie saw the brand turn from a sinking enterprise into a teen cult staple by the mid-2000s, although it was often criticized for racism in the workplace, fat-shaming, building a brand on exclusivity, and appearing to market sex toward teen customers.