Linda Evangelista is standing behind a group of women who are accusing her ex-husband of rape.
Speaking with The Guardian, the 55-year-old supermodel praised the “courage and strength” of four women who’ve come forward to claim they were sexually assaulted by Gérald Marie, her husband from 1987 until 1993.
“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 of her ex, one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry during his 25 years as president of the European division of Elite Model Management.
“Hearing them now, and based on my own experiences, I believe that they are telling the truth,” Evangelista said. “It breaks my heart because these are wounds that may never heal, and I admire their courage and strength for speaking up today.”
According to The Guardian, French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Marie after four women came forward to accuse him of rape, including model Carré Otis, who claims she was just 17 Marie allegedly raped her repeatedly while she lived in the spare room of his apartment in 1986.
While Marie was dating Evangelista at the time, neither Otis nor any of the other accusers have suggested that she had any knowledge of the alleged assaults.
Other women who have filed criminal complaints against Marie include: Jill Dodd, who alleges Marie raped her in 1980; Ebba Karlsson, who alleges Marie digitally raped her in 1990; and journalist Lisa Brinkworth, who told the Sunday Times that Marie assaulted her while she was working for the BBC on an undercover exposé of the modelling industry in 1998.
Marie has vehemently denied all the charges, with his lawyers stating that he is “extremely affected” by the allegations.
“He intends to actively participate in the manifestation of the truth within the scope of the opened criminal investigation,” his lawyers said.