Head of Victoria’s Secret distances himself from Jeffrey Epstein

Les Wexner, CEO and founder of Victoria’s Secret parent company, L Brands, has been caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Speaking publicly about his connection for the first time since Epstein’s arrest, Wexner said Monday he severed ties with Epstein 12 years ago.

Epstein, a longtime associate of Wexner’s, is accused of running a sex-trafficking enterprise, in which he paid girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors say he used employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences, and then paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.

Epstein has been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors related to alleged conduct that occurred between 2002 and 2005. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a note to L Brands employees Tuesday, Wexner described Epstein as his former personal money manager. Epstein also served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, Les Wexner’s charitable group based in Ohio. The Wexner Foundation works to develop Jewish professional and volunteer leaders across North America and public leaders in Israel.

Wexner became embroiled in the Epstein scandal when one of Epstein’s alleged victims accused Epstein of sexually assaulting her in Wexner’s home, according to an affidavit filed in a New York court in April. The affidavit is part of a defamation lawsuit against high-profile attorney Alan Dershowitz, claiming that he made “false and malicious” statements about a woman who claims to be a victim of Epstein. Dershowitz has repeatedly denied the accusations.

In his letter sent Monday, Wexner distanced himself from his former associate.

“I would never have guessed that a person I employed more than a decade ago could have caused such pain to so many people,” Wexner wrote. “My heart goes out to each and every person who has been hurt.”

Wexner denied knowledge of the illegal activity of which Epstein stands accused.

“I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behavior as has been reported about him. As you can imagine, this past week I have searched my soul … reflected … and regretted that my path ever crossed his.”

— CNN’s Erica Orden and Kara Scannell contributed to this report