An aspiring model who was sexually assaulted by a fashion photographer at his studio has revealed how she has ‘nightmares’ about the assault and ‘still feels physically sick’.
Pascal Molliere, 55, attacked the woman, then aged 22, during an hour-long photoshoot at a warehouse in Fulham, west London, in July 2010. This week he was sentenced to three years in jail for the assault.
Ahead of the shoot, he had asked the woman whether she wanted ‘to do fashion or sexy shots’ and encouraged her to bring a variety of outfits.
The photographer locked the studio door, then encouraged her to remove more and more clothing and pose for increasingly more revealing photographs before touching and kissing her genitals and forcefully kissing her on the mouth.
Molliere, from Hampshire, was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court, after he was previously found guilty by a jury of three counts of sexual assault following a nine-day trial.
Judge Philip Bartle QC said it was a ‘clear case of abuse of trust’, which had a ‘life-changing’ impact on the victim, who cannot be identified because she is the victim of sexual offences.
‘This would appear to be a case where Mr Molliere exploited his position as a professional photographer to exploit the vulnerability of a trusting young woman who was also a paying customer to satisfy his sexual desires,’ he said.
‘(The victim) obviously trusted Mr Molliere and he abused that trust in the appalling way, which even he now describes as abhorrent.’
The court heard the woman had moved to London to pursue an acting career and had borrowed money from her mother to pay for portfolio images to publicise herself.
The court was told Molliere was a ‘highly renowned and highly regarded photographer of celebrities and actors’ who was in ‘a position of power’ which he ‘abused’.
Reading her victim impact statement from the witness box, the woman said: ‘When I moved to London the dream was to get into theatre, film or television and for that I needed professional head shots.
‘After what happened, I felt so sick at the thought of even trying to go for roles, that somehow it would rear its ugly head and I would just be made out to be another girl willing to do anything to get to the top.
‘It crushed me and I gave up on my dreams.’
After leaving the studio the woman ‘burst into tears’ and told her boyfriend about what had happened.
He called Molliere an ‘abhorrent human’ and contacted him, telling him to delete all the photographs and to refund the money or he would contact the police.
The victim said she was inspired to report the photographer to police in 2019 after the #MeToo movement gained momentum.
‘I have nightmares where my skin crawls and feel physically sick,’ she said.
‘After it all happened, I felt sick, disgusted with myself. For all these years I have felt guilty and ashamed that I must have done something to make him think it was what I wanted.
‘I remember the feeling of fear being locked in that room.’
During the trial, Molliere denied all counts against him, claiming the incident ‘absolutely’ did not happen and the woman left his studio seeming “elated”.
But he has since admitted his guilt in a pre-sentence report, describing his own actions as ‘abhorrent’ but saying he acted ‘spontaneously’.
Molliere, who has been involved with sustainable food business StreetCube after closing his photography business, was also handed a 10-year sexual harm prevention order banning him from working as a photographer without police permission.