French prosecutors have initiated an investigation into Gerald Marie, the former European head of Elite Models, one of the world’s largest modeling agencies. He stands accused of rape and the abuse of an underage girl, along with other women.

The Paris prosecutor’s office disclosed that a former BBC journalist has filed a complaint against Marie, while three former models have come forward with allegations of rape. The incidents in question are reported to have occurred between 1980 and 1998.

A specialized child protection unit will spearhead the inquiry, encompassing allegations of «rape and sexual assault, as well as rape and sexual assault of a minor.»

During the period of these alleged offenses, Elite Models played a pivotal role in catapulting renowned supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, and even Marie’s former wife, Linda Evangelista, to fame.

Former BBC journalist Lisa Brinkworth alleges that in October 1998, while undercover as a model for an investigation, Marie sexually assaulted her in a nightclub. This incident unfolded as she was working on a documentary focusing on inappropriate sexual conduct towards models, including many who were underage, within certain modeling agencies.

Brinkworth’s complaint is accompanied by accusations from three former models who claim to have been raped by Marie in Paris during their teenage or young adult years. Carre Sutton, a U.S. model, asserts multiple instances of rape in 1986 when she was 17. Jill Dodd, another American, states she was raped in 1980 at the age of 19, and Swede Ebba Karlsson alleges rape in 1990 when she was 20 or 21.

The statute of limitations, which governs the number of years that can elapse between an alleged crime and the initiation of legal proceedings, may present a challenge for prosecution in some cases.

Brinkworth’s legal team is actively exploring ways to circumvent this limitation, particularly as she was reportedly deterred from coming forward due to an agreement between the BBC and Elite in 2001, following a defamation lawsuit.

The announcement of the investigation by Paris prosecutors has received applause from Anne-Claire Lejeune, Brinkworth’s lawyer, who hopes it will embolden other victims to share their experiences.

Gerald Marie, who departed Elite Models in 2012, currently holds the position of head at the Paris-based agency Oui Management.

This development follows a sex harassment probe against French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein, accused of rape and procuring young girls for Epstein. French authorities have expressed a commitment to investigating crimes outside the statute of limitations to ensure no victims are forgotten.

Marie has «categorically» denied the allegations to The Sunday Times, and AFP could not reach his lawyer for comment.

The BBC has clarified that it did not withhold access to its archives from Brinkworth and is fully prepared to cooperate with any criminal investigation.

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