A group of women has come forward as victims of sexual assault and rape by the former owner of a renowned fashion and modeling agency, Gerald Marie, as a journalist and former models prompt an investigation by French authorities on the matter. 

Lisa Brinkworth, a former BBC journalist, alleges that Gerald Marie assaulted her in 1998 while she was undercover filming a documentary relating to U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 after facing multiple charges of trafficking minors, according to RFI.

“I was absolutely powerless to do anything, and I was saying ‘no, no, no’ and he just kept on going,” she said about the incident.

The BBC was sued by Elite Models after the documentary originally aired. In the settlement that followed, the BBC was prevented from airing the documentary again, which prevented Brinkworth from pursuing the case any further, the BBC reported.

“I was directed not to at the time because it would have cut short the investigation. At that time, we were working very intensively undercover. I was working 20 hour days, I think we were exhausted,” she said about the case. 

“[In] retrospect, I wish I had. It's only recently when I decided to look at this again, and I started to investigate and I started to revisit this, and women were prepared to speak out,” she continued. 

Brinkworth’s attorney Anne-Claire Lejeune was able to argue with the Paris prosecutor about the case, which is now outside the statute of limitation when Brinkworth would be able to seek damages. Over 14 women have agreed to talk about their experience to the police. 

“I had four victims who contacted me last September, who told me their stories, that they were raped - when they were a minor, for some of them, and for others when they were 20 or 22, and they wanted to press charges against Gerald Marie,” Lejeune said. 

Among the victims is Carrie Otis, an ex-model who says that Marie raped her repeatedly when she was 17. Another victim is Catherine Donaldson, who says that in 1985, she was given party drugs by Marie before he sexually assaulted her multiple times in Paris. 

“My agent in England knew that this could potentially happen to me in Paris, but as she said, she thought I could handle it,” Donaldson said. “It was recognized, enough people knew he was doing that. He was allowed.”

Marie and his representation have issued a statement denying the allegations, saying that “[he] shall be withholding his eventual statements until speaking to the competent authorities.”

yogendra-singh-Tf1FO5R2nnU-unsplash Models who were under Gerald Marie are accusing him of sexual assault and rape as more women come forward to recount their experiences when they worked under him. This is a representational image. Yogendra Singh/Unsplash.