Model Carre Sutton was just 17 when she says she was repeatedly raped by one of the industry’s most powerful men.
Gerald Marie was married to Linda Evangelista – the famous supermodel – but when his wife was out of town, Sutton says she was sexually assaulted by the French agent “sometimes several times a week” over multiple weeks in 1986.
“He basically forced himself on me and raped me,” Sutton says in a tearful interview for a new documentary.
“I remember being so devastated and terrified.”
Now aged 53, Sutton – who rose to fame under the name Carre Otis – tells Sky News she would be “happy to go face to face” in court with Marie, who vehemently denies all sexual abuse allegations against him from several women.
There is no suggestion Evangelista – who divorced Marie in 1993 – knew of the alleged abuse.
She issued a statement in 2020 praising the “courage and strength” of her former partner’s accusers, saying: “Hearing them now, and based on my own experiences, I believe that they are telling the truth.”
Sutton is one of at least 11 women who have reportedly filed testimonies to a Paris prosecutor claiming they were sexually assaulted by Marie, the former European head of Elite modelling agency.
France’s statute of limitations, however, means allegations of sexual abuse must be reported within 20 years, or 30 years in the case of minors.
Sutton believes there have been other alleged victims of Marie in the last two decades and she wants them to come forward.
“I don’t think perpetrators just flip a switch,” she tells Sky News.
“The reason I came forward is that I have daughters. I don’t want them to have to normalise what I normalised for so long.
“It’s still a completely unregulated industry that’s working with minors mostly, and young adults.
“That it’s the only industry that’s unregulated is outrageous.”
Modelling industry ‘totally complicit’ with abuse
Sutton and three other women share details of sexual abuse they allegedly faced while working as models in a new documentary called Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret.
Sutton – who was once married to actor Mickey Rourke – says people within the industry were “totally complicit” to the abuse of models, particularly in Paris.
She says she was sent to casting jobs at the homes of photographers who were “known perpetrators”, where she was told to strip to show them her body.
“This was totally normal,” she says.
“They would often go late, late, late into the night.
“It was really the vulnerable, and the ones that weren’t making bank, who were the ones who were preyed on.”
‘Groomed and sold by our agents’
Jill Dodd says she was also raped by Marie after a night out in Paris in 1980 when she was a 20-year-old model.
She went on to have a relationship with Adnan Khashoggi, the late Saudi arms dealer who was once said to be the richest man in the world.
She says she later discovered Khashoggi had paid Marie’s modelling agency, Paris Planning, up to $50,000 to be introduced to her.
Dodd tells Sky News: “We were just young, and being taken advantage of, and groomed and sold by our agents.
“I know for me, I beat myself up over it for years… ‘how could I be so stupid? How could I let this happen?’
“In reality, I had no chance against these powerful men that were 20 years older than me, plotting against me.”
‘A perpetrator in the palm of our hands’
Another senior figure in the modelling world who faces claims of sexual abuse in the documentary is French agent Jean-Luc Brunel, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein.
Brunel – like Epstein before him – was found dead in prison in February this year having killed himself.
He had been detained in December 2020 as part of an inquiry into allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Marianne Shine says she was raped by Brunel while working as a model in Paris in the 1980s and tells Sky News that learning of his death was “infuriating”.
“Here we actually had a perpetrator in the palm of our hands,” she says.
“There were so many times I was ready to go to Paris to testify and then they put it off and put it off.”
Shine, who now works as a therapist, claims she was also sexually assaulted by the late French modelling agent Claude Haddad, who cast her out because she “wouldn’t play the game” – and there were others who behaved inappropriately towards her.
She says: “I remember once I did a test shoot with a photographer and he said ‘we need to sleep together otherwise you’re not getting your pictures’.
“This kind of thing happened all the time.
“I went to my agent and complained about it and they were just like ‘ah baby, come on’. Like it was no big deal.”
‘Master groomers and master manipulators’
Shine believes there is a common theme about the men responsible for the kind of abuse she and other models suffered.
She says: “I have this theory that some of the men are very small, or there’s something small about them inside, that they feel their only power is by being abusive or intimidating or threatening in some way.
“When it comes to the modelling industry, they manipulate us by dangling these dreams and these possible modelling jobs in front of us and we believe them.
“As long as we go along with it, we’re fine – if we speak out against it, we’re done.”
She adds: “They were master groomers and master manipulators. They were our authoritative figures.
“They held all the purse strings. They held everything.”
The documentary features interviews with a fourth woman – Shawna Lee – who was a 15-year-old Canadian schoolgirl when she entered the Look of the Year modelling contest in 1992.
In the weeks leading up to the competition – which Donald Trump had judged the previous year – Lee was sent to Paris by Elite where she says she was raped by Gerald Marie.
She says Marie learnt she had confided in a fellow model and berated her, suggesting her career would be on the line and telling her: “What else are you going to do? Go back home and flip burgers?”
‘Most models don’t have a voice’
Sutton has filed a lawsuit in New York against Marie and she says she is willing to take the case to trial.
“I’m in this for justice,” she tells Sky News.
“I’m in this to protect workers’ rights, I’m in this for equality, I’m in this to heal what has happened to me and so many other survivors who were totally innocent.
“I’m in this to see industry change and I’m in this to address statute of limitation reform.
“This has not been a walk in the park. This has been one of the more challenging two years of my life.”
Sutton – who has two teenage daughters – still has safety concerns about the industry and says she wouldn’t allow her children to become models.
“I have 13 and 15-year-old (daughters) and that’s not going to happen,” she tells Sky News.
Dodd believes famous models are “much less vulnerable” to potential abuse, saying: “The big stars typically didn’t get abused as much as the unknown girls who had no money and nobody knew who they were.
“It was more secretive.
“(Famous models) have a voice. I didn’t have a voice and most models don’t have a voice.”
In a statement in the documentary, a lawyer for Gerald Marie said he “firmly objects” to the “false allegations made against him”.
“He remains calm and refuses to participate in the fallacious and dishonest media controversy that has been fomented more than 30 years later,” the lawyer added.
Before his death, Brunel denied committing any wrongdoing during his work in the industry and said he never abused any women.
Haddad, who died in 2009, previously said he had “never forced” any women he had “been with”.
Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret will launch on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW on Friday 24 June.