After years of criticism for perpetuating harmful beauty standards and lacking inclusivity, Victoria’s Secret is having its reputation scrutinized once again, this time in a new Hulu docuseries.
The three-part “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons” (now streaming) features interviews with journalists, former Victoria’s Secret models and former company executives, explores the lingerie brand’s rise and fall, as well as its former CEO Leslie Wexner’s ties to late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
One of the show’s disturbing allegations, among many, is that Epstein falsely portrayed himself as a modeling recruiter for the Victoria’s Secret catalog in order to sexually assault aspiring model.
Alicia Arden, a model and actress, had recently landed a role in “Baywatch” when she said she met with Epstein in 1997 under the pretense he was a modeling recruiter.
“I have a vast portfolio, and I thought, ‘The one thing that might be missing is to get in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue,” she said in the Hulu doc.
Arden said she attended a meeting at Epstein’s hotel room in Santa Monica, California, where Epstein asked her to undress and groped her buttocks. She said she filed a sexual battery report with police after the incident.
Wexner had been aware Epstein was misrepresenting himself as a modeling recruiter years before this alleged incident, Cindy Fedus-Fields, former CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, said in the doc.
According to Fedus-Fields, an executive came into his office in 1993 with the revelation that Epstein was pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret modeling recruiter.
“I asked this executive to call Les directly and tell him what was happening,” Fedus-Fields said. “She did, and Les told her he would put a stop to it. The point being that inappropriate behavior was reported to Les sometime in ’93.”
Wexner denied multiple requests to be interviewed for the docuseries but provided a statement denying he had any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sexual misconduct while under his employ.
Here are some other bombshells from the series.
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Epstein allegedly used Wexner’s money to buy ‘Lolita Express’ airplane
Sarah Ellison, a journalist for The Washington Post, noted Wexner granted full power of attorney to Epstein, giving the financial control of all the CEO’s assets.
With Wexner’s money, Epstein allegedly bought expensive property, as well as the private jet he allegedly used to traffic underage girls. The plane has been dubbed the “Lolita Express” in articles and on social media.
Epstein allegedly turned Wexner against his own mother
Epstein allegedly turned Wexner against people whom he deemed financial obstacles — including Wexner’s own mother, Bella Cabakoff.
In the early 90s, Cabakoff fell ill and resigned from the Wexner Foundation Board, Ellison said, so Epstein took her place on it. But when Cabakoff recovered and wanted to return to the board, Epstein would not give her back her seat from her.
“What results is a protracted and difficult lawsuit that Wexner himself could have resolved at any point,” Ellison said. “He does n’t step in, and he’s clearly at odds with his mother over it.”
Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, awaiting sex trafficking charges, dead of apparent suicide
Wexner allegedly leaked employment details of an Epstein accuser
Wexner posits he immediately cut ties with Epstein following the financier’s first arrest for soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for prostitution, Ellison said. Epstein was later convicted on these charges in 2008 but avoided what could have been a lengthy prison sentence under a plea deal with then-US Attorney Alex Acosta.
But, according to Ellison, a recent investigation by the Oregon Attorney General found that Wexner’s L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, assisted Epstein’s defense team in this case in 2006.
“One of his accusers happened to have worked for Victoria’s Secret, and the L Brands legal department sent over legal records regarding this accuser (to Epstein’s team),” Ellison said. “These records were not subpoenaed. They were provided voluntarily by L Brands, aiding Epstein.”
Wexner’s attorney denied the findings of the investigation, calling them “salacious and patently false allegations,” and added that a special committee formed by L Brands conducted its own investigation and found the claims “not viable.”
Wexner has since resigned from L Brands.
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Contributing: Doug Stanglin and Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY