A former model recounts a sex harassment claim brought by one of the world's top modeling agencies in order to inspire others to speak out.
Laurie Marsden had a fruitful 11-year career in one of the most competitive sectors in the world.
Reflecting on the shady side of the modeling scene and one of its most influential guys, Gerald Marie, she now lives in Brisbane with her family.
Young Irving signed to his agency Paris Planning, which later merged with Elite, thereby launching the careers of supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen.
Gerald seemed to be really sweet, and look, I was delighted. She lauded the agency as being “one of the best in Paris,” and claimed that he was one of the best agents in the business.
However, she claims he sexually abused her at a house party in 1982.
Prior to leaving the toilet, I was loosely body checked into a space and on top of me was a male. And it was Gerald, too.
There was a struggle that I was trying to convince him to stop. Once I was able to get out from under him, I ran.
She says she is fortunate that she was able to run.
In those sorts of cases, it's just battle or flight.
Ms Marsden believes that retaliation was easy. Marie postponed her planned photoshoots for Elle Magazine the next workday when she went into the agency.
On hold for three separate times for Elle, and each time he spoke to them in French, and then he looked at me and said the reservations were all cancelled... I looked like I had been physically struck. In either of those journeys, my job would have benefitted.
At the time, she felt she couldn't tell anybody about what happened.
I was frightened and feeling weak. There was nothing I could do.
She has a doctorate from Columbia University, but she has promised to share her experience in order to encourage other women who have been through similar ordeals.
I demand that she be held accountable.” I would like to see more women openly move up if they are willing.
Seven News reached out to Gerard Marie's legal advisors for comment, but has yet to obtain a response.
However, Marie has repeatedly refuted both charges, noting that "the claims made against him have profoundly influenced Marie, who contests them with utmost firmness."
a plethora of accusers
It is known that 12 separate women have issued statements to the French prosecutor, whose formal inquiry into Gerald Marie started in September of last year.
Invitations have been extended to multiple women located mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom to consult with the French investigators in Paris as early as April.
Laurie Marsden is optimistic she will be able to join them, based on the magnitude of the epidemic.
An additional eight women have called a Paris-based lawyer representing the suspected victims, Anne-Claire Le Jeune, to tell her about the lawsuit.
Of course, we want Gerald Marie to be arrested and taken to justice for his crimes.
While she has confessed to the charges so far, none of the claims come under the statute of limitations in France since they go back to over 20 years ago, urging more women to move forward.
“However, it is particularly important for the persons for whom the statute of limitations has run out.”
Ms Marsden says she believes her story will help to secure stronger rights for fashion modeling and, in particular, help to protect women in the workplace.
When she was a model, she claimed that “there was no transparency, no responsibility, and I think seeing influential men in positions of influence with young models relying on them is not a healthy combination.”
She is also partnering with the Model Alliance, a charity founded by fellow model Sarah Ziff, to help deter models from being exposed to violence and exploitation.