WITH her striking features, aspiring model Carré Otis was snapped up as soon as her picture landed on the desk of the boss of the world’s most successful modelling agency.
Aged just 16, she was signed to Elite Model Management – since credited with inventing the supermodel and helping to launch the careers of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen.
For homeless, teenage runaway Carré she believed modelling was her ticket out of a lifetime of hardship, and she quickly became a recognisable face in the modelling industry during the late 1980s and 90s.
The young American graced the cover of top fashion magazines, even sharing the cover of Vogue alongside Linda Evangelista.
But behind the glitz and glamour of the modelling industry lay a dark underbelly.
Just a few months into her career Carré was shipped off to Paris, where she claims she was repeatedly raped by modelling agency boss Gérald Marie, who at the time was dating Linda.
Carré is one of 13 women, four of whom are British, who say they were raped and sexually abused by Marie – who strenuously denies the allegations – while working with him during the 80s and 90s.
These shocking revelations are laid bare in a bombshell new Sky documentary series, Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret.
The three-part exposé alleges how some of the world’s top modelling agents like Marie, John Casablancas, Jean Luc-Brunel and Claude Haddad were complicit in creating a culture of sexual exploitation and abuse that lasted decades.
10 Carré, pictured in 1999, is one of 13 women, four of whom are British, who say they were raped and sexually abused by Marie Credit: Getty
In the documentary, one former Elite worker claims Marie had a bizarre philosophy that “virgins were not photogenic”.
Whistleblower Omar Harfouch alleges: “As they arrived at the agency they had to lose their virginity quickly and at all costs. We’re talking about 14, 15, 16-year-old girls.”
League table of conquests
He also tells how Marie reportedly ran a league table of models he and others had slept with, including a points system based on ages and whether they were virgins.
Omar claims: “He and other people at Elite would each put a cross and they would compete to see who bedded the most girls.”
Ahead of the documentary, which airs tonight (June 24), Carré – along with two other survivors – speak to the Sun about their alleged ordeals.
Carré was just 16 when she was signed to Elite Model Management in 1985 by founder Casablancas.
But after a disappointing few months in New York where she faced a torrent of rejection, he sent her to Paris to stay with Marie, who headed up Elite’s European division.
I thought it meant that something good was finally going to happen so I really had no idea what I was walking into.”
She recalls: “Being as naive and as vulnerable as I was, I thought going to stay in this apartment of the boss was a good thing. I thought it meant that I was the chosen one.
“I thought it meant that something good was finally going to happen, so I really had no idea what I was walking into.”
Carré claims she was prescribed a vial of cocaine a day by bosses to keep her weight down – and that Marie repeatedly raped her in the apartment he shared with Canadian supermodel Linda.
She says: “I was in a particularly vulnerable situation… he held all the power and I was not in the position to fight back metaphorically and realistically.
“I was dependent on him for food, money, shelter, he held my passport… I was 17.”
The former face of Calvin Klein claims the abuse happened while Linda, who was also signed to Elite and moved from New York to Paris, was out of town.
Ex-wife supports victims
Linda, who went on to marry Marie before divorcing him in 1993, after separating from him the year before, has since come out in support of Carré and the other women alleging abuse.
She has said: “During my relationship with Gérald Marie, I knew nothing of these sexual allegations against him, so I was unable to help these women.
“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.”
Carré, now 53, says: “I don’t believe that she knew. Look how young she was and look who she was dating. I don’t think any of us had it easy.”
For years Carré, who went on to develop anorexia and suffered drug addiction, believed she was the only alleged victim.
The mum-of-two, who now lives in Colorado says: “I think that’s part of the strategy, that’s part of what does happen in these situations and continues to keep victims silent.
“I had no idea that there were so many other women and that this was far more normal within the modelling industry than I’d previously believed.”
'Bought' by rich men
Fellow American Jill Dodd, 62, also alleges she was raped by Marie while struggling to make it as a 20-year-old model in Paris in the 1980s.
She was attending interviews – dubbed “go-sees” – but started to rack up debts to the agency which took a significant cut of her earnings, while also charging her to fly from California and her Paris hotel.
Jill recalls: “I was sent to parties at rich men’s houses that models were required to attend.
“I figured out that these men wanted to sexually harass us or rape us. So I refused to go to any more parties. Then Gérald told me, ‘no parties, no interviews’.
“Then several weeks after that, one night, he raped me.”
I was sent to parties at rich men’s houses that models were required to attend… I was told, 'No parties, no interviews'
A few weeks later, still reeling from her alleged attack, her booker invited her to a party in Monte Carlo, where she met Saudi billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, then deemed the richest man in the world.
Jill says: “He and I started dancing. He reminded me of my friend’s dad at a wedding. He was older. I felt safe with him.
“I became involved with him but I found out about a year into our relationship that he had purchased an introduction. He had paid my agency $50,000 to bring me to that party and that was shocking.
“I found out because I saw him doing it with other women. He was looking through a notebook of composites from modelling agencies who were saying, ‘Pick the girl you want to be with and you pay this price and we’ll get her to you.’
“I had no idea that had been done to me.”
She says she quickly got out of the relationship with Khashoggi, who later admitted he had paid for an introduction to Jill and who died in 2017, but was filled with a deep sense of shame.
Coerced into the 'luxury' life
Jill says: “I felt like a whore. And it was all innocent and not understanding because I'd just turned 20. I was really a baby in the world and didn’t understand things like this.
“These people were in their 40s, manipulating me. I had no idea and it took me decades to get over the shame that came with that.”
Marianne Shine, 59, was another American model working in Paris in the 1980s. The 22-year-old initially worked for the Prestige agency run by Claude Haddad – accused of sexual assault by other women.
She says: “I left there quite quickly because I didn't like the way he talked to me. I thought he was rude and disrespectful.”
Jill then went to rival agency Karins, co-founded by famed model scout and pal of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Jean-Luc Brunel.
She says: “I actually did really well in the beginning and got into the inner circle with Jean-Luc.
“I was invited to private dinners and clubs, and eventually to his own apartment to watch a video with other girls who all cuddled with him on his bed. I thought that was odd so I sat on the floor with the ‘overflow’ girls.”
After one such party – attended by other high end models and wealthy businessmen – she says Brunel raped her after convincing her to stay at his apartment.
She says: “I didn’t have the cash to get a cab home and the Metro had stopped. Jean-Luc promised his cook or one of the other guests would take me home.
“Then of course those people were not available. He wouldn’t give me cab money. So I ended up staying over.”
Marianne says Brunel insisted she stayed in his bed as she needed her “beauty rest” and he would sleep elsewhere.
But she claims she woke up and he was on top of her. She says: “All of a sudden he took advantage of me. I was stunned and thought I'd done something wrong.
“That was the most heartbreaking part. For months I'd been trusting this man.”
She fled his apartment before he woke the next morning. The following day, she claims she was fired from the agency.
Soon after she returned to New York to live with her mum and refused to model again – keeping her alleged abuse a secret, until now.
Speaking in the documentary, based on the long-running investigations by the Guardian, whistleblower Omar says he tried to bring the alleged scandal to light decades ago.
Lebanese businessman Omar spent two years working with Elite from 1998, after buying the rights to the Elite Model Look contest in Ukraine and other countries.
The prestigious competition saw girls as young as 13 travelling from all over the world to compete.
Breaking their silence
He says: “Elite and its leaders would take any opportunity to demonstrate their power. And little by little, that’s how these girls started to get used because they are put in a situation where they are vulnerable. They are psychologically fragile.
“The more I witnessed, the more I wondered: ‘Can I continue to work with these people? Or do I need to take a stand?’”
He adds: “And so, this story – the sexual abuse, the sex trafficking, the sexual assaults – was brought to light more than 20 years ago and nothing has changed.”
Carré published her memoir, Beauty, Disrupted, detailing her alleged abuse, in 2011. She says: “It was before the #MeToo movement and nobody wanted to touch the subject at all.”
Some of the women’s alleged abusers have since died. Before his death in 2009, Claude Haddad stated: “I have been with some girls, but I never forced them.”
John Casablancas retired in the early Noughties to Brazil with his young wife, who he met at the Look of the Year contest. He died in 2013, having claimed he had never knowingly had sex with a girl under the age of 16.
In 2004, Elite was forced into bankruptcy and the brand was sold. The current owners have no connection with the prior management and have strongly denied the historic allegations of abuse.
Jean-Luc Brunel declined invitations to take part in the documentary series or respond to its allegations. Earlier this year, while filming was still taking place, it emerged that Brunel, 76, had been found hanged in his prison cell.
He was arrested in 2020 as part of a French inquiry into sex trafficking and sexual assault allegations against disgraced financier Epstein, who died in prison in 2019.
Brunel had been held for over a year while he was under investigation on suspicion of trafficking minors for sexual exploitation – supplying underage girls to Epstein – and rape of minors, allegations he denied.
Gérald Marie, now in his 70s and living in Spain, is currently under police investigation in France. His lawyer told documentary makers that he “firmly objects” to the “false allegations made against him”.
She added: “He remains calm and refuses to participate in the fallacious and dishonest media controversy that has been fomented more than 30 years later.
“He is withholding his statements for the justice system, in which he has complete faith.”
Carré, Jill and Marianne say one of the reasons they are sharing their stories publicly is to encourage other potential victims to come forward.
In coming together in their quest for justice, the three women have got to know each other well, along with other alleged victims.
Mum-of-three and fashion designer Jill, who founded the popular surfing brand Roxy, says: “That’s been a huge blessing.
“It’s been really healing to meet each other and validate each other and look at each other and go, ‘you’re not crazy, I must not be crazy.’ We felt so stupid.”
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Jill lives in northern Carolina, close to mum-of-three Marianne, a psychotherapist and Drama Therapist. Marianne adds: “Coming together with another group of women who all have their stories is very healing.”
Scouting for Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret will launch on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW on Friday, 24th June at 9pm. How you can get help
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
Always keep your phone nearby.
Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
If you are in danger, call 999.
Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis –
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
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