(JTA) — Billionaire entrepreneur Leslie Wexner, under fire for his ties to the disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein and allowing a culture of sexual harassment and bullying of female employees at Victoria’s Secret, is stepping down from his L Brands retailing empire.
L Brands announced on Thursday that it will sell 55 percent of Victoria’s Secret to Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, The New York Times reported. Wexner will become chairman emeritus of L Brands, which also owns Bath & Body Works. L Brands has sold or spun off many of its businesses in recent years, including Lane Bryant and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Wexner is a prominent philanthropist, particularly in the areas of Jewish learning and other Jewish causes.
A Times investigation published earlier this month accused Wexner, 82, of allowing one of his top executives to harass and bully former employees and models and allowed a culture of misogyny to pervade the company. The report included interviews with more than 30 current and former executives, employees, contractors and models, as well as court filings and other documents.
Days earlier, a Times story said that Wexner was in discussions to step aside as L Brands’ chief executive reportedly over his ties to Epstein, who Wexner employed for years as a personal adviser over his finances, philanthropy and private life. Epstein killed himself in a New York jail in August while awaiting trial on charges of child sex trafficking.
The deal to step down comes as Victoria’s Secret is suffering a drop in sales and criticism that its advertising is out of touch with its customers.