They were 15, 16 or 17 years old and dreamed of becoming top models. A dozen women today accuse Gérald Marie, the former European director of the prestigious Elite agency, of having sexually assaulted them in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It was liberating”
These women, who now live abroad, testified this week before the French Senate after being heard by the French police … for the first time.
“It was liberating, underlines the former Swedish model Ebba Karlsson. I used to think I was alone, we all thought I was and after awhile we met this group of women who shared this story. It was very strong. If we can move forward and get the whole industry to change, then we will be victorious. “
The obstacle of the limitation period
During the round table, organized by Senator Nathalie Goulet, these women described the pressures and abuses of Gérald Marie and another figure in modeling in France, Jean-Luc Brunel, who was imprisoned a long time ago. year in the Jeffrey Epstein case.
“For years, I kept silent on the fact that I was drugged and raped by my agent Jean-Luc Brunel, underlines ex-Dutch model Thysia Huisman. I was ashamed and I was also very scared. When I finally spoke it was 28 years after the rape and my lawyer told me that due to the statute of limitations there was nothing I could do against Brunel. So I took the floor to try to motivate other people to do it “.
Legally, the facts are now well and truly prescribed. This is why these ex-models, with the help of the former shareholder of Elite, Omar Harfouch, ask French politicians to change the legislation relating to this kind of business: “It is almost a double sentence because the fact that they suffered these facts, even a long time ago, is very complicated and it is reinforced by the fact that when they speak, they are considered as mere witnesses and not as victims “, explains lawyer Anne-Claire Lejeune.
An investigation for rapes, including minors, was opened last year in France against Gérald Marie, who claims his innocence. The main hope of these women is that a victim for whom the statute of limitations is not exceeded, dares to speak out.