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Is former Elite boss Gerald Marie the Harvey Weinstein of the fashion industry?

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When Wendy Walsh moved to Paris in 1980 to work as a model, she was excited about what the future held for her. But within weeks, she alleges, the former Elite Models boss Gérald Marie had raped her. Walsh is one of 16 women who have made sexual misconduct allegations against Marie, who for three decades was one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry.

Marie was married to the supermodel Linda Evangelista between 1987 and 1993. Evangelista has praised the “courage and strength” shown by a growing number of women accusing her ex-husband of sexual misconduct and rape, saying she believed the women’s accounts of their experiences with Marie. “During my relationship with Gérald Marie, I knew nothing of these sexual allegations against him, so I was unable to help these women,” said Evangelista. “Hearing them now, and based on my own experiences, I believe that they are telling the truth. It breaks my heart because these are wounds that may never heal, and I admire their courage and strength for speaking up today.”

The investigative reporter Lucy Osborne talks to Anushka Asthana about the women’s stories and how Marie was allegedly able to abuse models for decades. Some inside the modelling world have told Osborne that Marie may be the Harvey Weinstein of the fashion industry.

Marie firmly denies the allegations and his lawyers have said he is “extremely affected” by the accusations. 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,” they said.

The Elite modelling agency went bankrupt in 2004 and split in two. Both new corporate entities have sought to distance themselves from alleged past abuses and have condemned the sort of behaviour covered in this podcast. Oui Management said Marie was not currently an employee.

Gérald Marie in 1991
Photograph: Today/REX/Shutterstock

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