Former Supermodel Accuses Elite Model Agency Executive of Rape

Former Supermodel Accuses Elite Model Agency Executive of Rape

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Since the law was enacted in 2019, thousands of such claims have been filed, many of them against the Archdiocese of New York, and a substantial number, like Ms. Sutton’s and Virginia Giuffre’s against Prince Andrew, were brought this week, just before the window provided by the statute was set to close. It is Ms. Tapscott, the complaint maintains, whose negligence enabled the abuse, by sending Ms. Sutton from New York to Paris under the tutelage of Mr. Marie. According to the suit, the two Elite executives arranged for the teenager to live in his apartment, with Ms. Tapscott failing to let Ms. Sutton know that “the modeling agency was sending her to live in the home of a sex offender.”

By the mid-1980s, Mr. Marie’s treatment of young models was allegedly known. Before Mr. Marie joined the agency in 1985, Elite’s founder, John Casablancas, was wary of an association with him, the suit claims, quoting a former business partner of his who said Mr. Casablancas had called Mr. Marie “a sleaze’’ who “beats up girls” and “rapes them.”

The pattern of assault began, the complaint states, when Mr. Marie’s girlfriend, the model Linda Evangelista (whom he would later marry and then divorce), was out of town. In the apartment, on Rue du Bac, Ms. Sutton was put in his daughter’s vacant room. “It became clearer and clearer to me that if I did push back, I would not work” Ms. Sutton told me. When she did push back, she said, she did lose work.

Not long after this period of emotional and professional descent, she returned to California and moved to a farm, where she lived with midwives and herbalists. She eventually found fame on her own terms, working with superstar photographers like Herb Ritts and Richard Avedon and modeling for Calvin Klein. But intimacy with men was impossible for years, she told me; abusive romantic relationships followed, and she had also grown to roundly mistrust women.

If Ms. Sutton was betrayed by Ms. Tapscott in the way the suit lays out, by being directed toward a predator, how should the law respond? “Any time you are working with children, there is a heightened responsibility to keep them safe,” said Carrie Goldberg, a Brooklyn lawyer who has represented many adult victims of child sex abuse. The problem for young models, particularly during the ’80s and ’90s, was that “they weren’t seen as children, but legally they are, and they were.”


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