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Linda Evangelista praises ‘courage’ of women accusing ex-husband of sexual assault: ‘I believe that they are telling the truth’

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Supermodel Linda Evangelista is standing by a group of women accusing her ex-husband Gérald Marie of rape and sexual misconduct.

On Friday, the 55-year-old icon told The Guardian that women who accused the former president of Elite Model Management in a Sept. 21 complaint to the Judicial Tribunal in Paris, had “courage” for stepping forward.

“During my relationship with Gérald Marie, I knew nothing of these sexual allegations against him, so I was unable to help these women,” Evangelista told the outlet of her ex-husband to whom she was married from 1987 to 1993.

“Hearing them now, and based on my own experiences, I believe that they are telling the truth,” she continued. “It breaks my heart because these are wounds that may never heal, and I admire their courage and strength for speaking up today.” On Saturday, Evangelista posted an Instagram photo that read, “When fear equals silence.”

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In September, the 70-year-old businessman, now chairman of Oui Management, was accused of rape and sexual assault by three models (Carré Sutton, 51, Jill Dodd, 60, and Ebba Karlsson, 51) and one journalist (Lisa Brinkworth, 53), incidents that allegedly occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the New York Times.

The outlet reports that the allegations are outside the French statute of limitations, however one claim with new evidence could be an exception. In September, Marie told The Sunday Times of London that he “categorically” denied the allegations and his lawyers told The Guardian, “He intends to actively participate in the manifestation of the truth within the scope of the opened criminal investigation.”

The Guardian states that Evangelista was dating Marie at the time of the alleged incidents and the women’s claims don’t suggest she was aware any crimes. A secondary article published Saturday included claims from a total of eight women.

On Saturday, Sutton, largely known by her professional name Carrie Otis, wrote on Instagram, “I am grateful this issue is being acknowledged but we have a long road ahead of us to seek justice. It has been incredibly disturbing for me and other survivors to have our words and woundings fall on deaf ears. For too many years. I encourage women to speak up and out now. We are safer in numbers.”

According to the New York Times, in her 2012 memoir Beauty, Disrupted, Sutton described being raped by Marie when she was 17 while under his management.

Karlsson, who reportedly said that Marie assaulted her during a meeting in Paris posted, “Finally, a lot more models are coming out to talk, and Gérald can try to deny his actions as much as he wants. Our voices are strong, and our testimonies speak for themselves.” She added that sexual abuse is common in the modeling industry and that as a young woman, she was intimidated into silence.

Evangelista, considered one of the “original” supermodels who rose to fame in the 1990s, is the subject of a new Apple TV Plus series called The Supermodels, reported Variety, along with fellow beauties Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington.

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