Seven more women have come forward to accuse the former model agency boss Gérald Marie of sexual misconduct, adding to mounting allegations that have drawn parallels with the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Last month a Guardian investigation revealed that nine women had made sexual misconduct allegations against Marie, who for three decades was one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry.
All those allegations, which ranged from sexual harassment to rape, were firmly denied by Marie, who is now 70 and living in Spain.
Now seven more women have come forward to the Guardian to share new accounts of misconduct by Marie. One is Laurie Marsden, a former model who works as a psychotherapist in Brisbane, Australia. She said Marie sexually assaulted her in Paris when she was 19.
Marsden was working for Paris Planning, an agency Marie ran until 1986, when it merged with Elite. Marie then became the European president of Elite, one of the world’s premier model agencies, which in the 1990s represented several supermodels including Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.
Marsden said she was at a house party in 1982 when Marie said he would make her a star. Later, he waited for her outside a bathroom and, when she came out, she alleges that he pushed her on to a bed in a neighbouring room.
“His full body weight was on me and he was holding me down,” she said. “He was touching me all over my body.”
As her skirt rode up, she said she told him to stop and said “no”, but he ignored her pleas. Marsden said she was only able to escape from what she describes as an attempted rape by twisting her body and using her feet to lever herself off the bed.
The following Monday, according to Marsden, Marie cancelled the three jobs she had lined up with Elle magazine. She believes she was punished for resisting the sexual assault the previous week.
Another former top model, Lesa Amoore, alleged that Marie sexually assaulted and harassed her several times over a three-year period when she was working for Elite in the early 90s. On one occasion outside a club or restaurant in Paris, Amoore alleged he pushed her against a wall and grabbed her by the wrists. She had to “knee him” in the groin to escape, she said.
On another occasion, at his apartment, Amoore said Marie tried to kiss her and put his hand down her pants but she was able to push him off. Despite repeatedly making it clear she was not interested in him, Amoore said Marie would show up at her apartment late at night and demand she let him in, which she refused.
“Anyone around for any length of time saw Gerald was chasing models. I mean, he’d do so in front of other people,” said Amoore. “Models shared warnings, while bookers like mine tried to help us steer clear.”
Emily Mott, a former model from New York, alleges she was sexually assaulted by Marie, in 1985 or 1986, after she was asked to help his then girlfriend, the supermodel Linda Evangelista, move into his apartment. Mott said when Evangelista was in another room, Marie “forced himself on me and tried to kiss me and tussle me on to a bed”. Mott, a varsity rower, said she was “thankful” she had “the strength to push him off”.
There is no suggestion that Evangelista, who was later married to Marie between 1987 and 1993, was aware of this incident or any other allegation against her former husband until they were made public recently.
Evangelista told the Guardian last month she believed the women accusing her ex-husband, adding: “It breaks my heart because these are wounds that may never heal, and I admire their courage and strength.”
Criminal case and denials
Marie did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the accusations from his new accusers. He has strongly denied the previous set of accusations, which were said to have taken place between 1980 and 1998, and included six allegations of rape, including of a model who was 15 at the time.
Marie’s lawyers previously said he was “extremely affected” by the accusations, which he firmly contests. They said he would fight a French criminal case that was opened in September after prosecutors received allegations from four women: “He intends to actively participate in the manifestation of the truth within the scope of the opened criminal investigation.”
However, there is a growing sense that Marie’s case is shining a disturbing light on an era in fashion when abuse was tolerated and even enabled by some in the industry. “Men like Gérald Marie do not exist in a vacuum,” said the British former model Catherine Donaldson. “What he was doing was in plain sight.”
Donaldson said her experience with Marie was the basis of Couch, a short film she made recently. She alleges Marie sexually assaulted her on a sofa at his apartment before an agency dinner in 1985, when she was 19. She also alleges Marie aggressively grabbed her and tried to force himself on her but she was able to push him off.
Afterwards, at the dinner, she said he told her she was fat and insisted she return to the office every day until she lost weight. For two weeks, Marie would weigh her at “any given opportunity”, she said. “It was public humiliation.”
Donaldson recalled telling her London agent, Ziggi Golding, at the time about what had occurred with Marie. Golding confirmed that conversation with the Guardian. She said she chose not to affiliate her agency, Z, with Paris Planning because Marie’s reputation as a predator was “well-known”.
Serene Cicora, 57, another agent from the 80s and 90s, also recalled “a definite pattern” in the stories she was told about Marie, adding “dozens of models told me about his predatory behaviour”.
Cicora said the sheer number of accusers, combined with what many of them say about how Marie abused his power to coerce victims, threatening their careers if they refused sex, suggests he may be “the Harvey Weinstein of the fashion industry”.
In addition to accusations of sexual assault and rape, three other models told the Guardian that Marie sexually harassed them while they were employed by him. The British former model Karen Howarth said Marie tried to get her to sleep with him at his apartment before an agency dinner in spring 1985. When she rejected him, she said he called her “frigid” in front of colleagues and, days later, she was told he would no longer directly represent her.
Another former model, Jennifer Curran Peres, who is American, recounted sharing a limousine with Marie and others after an industry party. When they reached his stop, she recalled that he demanded she go to his apartment with him, which she repeatedly refused to do. Peres alleged Marie tried to physically pull her out of the vehicle by holding on to her arm. She said he stopped only when another passenger removed Marie’s hand from her.
A third former model, who is Canadian and wishes to remain anonymous, said while in St Tropez in 1986 for a shoot with Elle magazine she was pressured into sleeping in the same hotel room as Marie. After she refused, the shoot was cancelled.
After Marie and the Elite founder, John Casablancas, were at the helm of the prestigious modelling agency, the company went bankrupt and split in two. Both new corporate entities, Creative World Management and Elite World Group, have sought to distance themselves from alleged past abuses.
More recently, Marie has been involved in Oui Management, a prestigious Paris agency whose models front Louis Vuitton campaigns and appear on Vogue magazine covers. The company said Marie was not currently an employee but documents suggest he remains an investor with “significant control”.