Clare Richards Carré Otis Scouting for Girls Fashion's Darkest Secret
Carré Otis pictured in Scouting for Girls: Fashion's Darkest Secret courtesy of Factual America

A new Sky docuseries called Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret exposes sexual abuse within the fashion industry. Featured in the doc is Model Carré Otis, who will never forget the nightmare she endured at the hands of a powerful man in the fashion industry when she was just 17 years old.

Otis shares her story in a recent episode of the Factual America podcast. You can listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or right here:

“I decided to write my memoir in 2011, Beauty Disrupted, and it really was in and around the fact that I was a mother to two little girls. And it felt it is my duty, my responsibility, to work so that my daughters and others — other young people — don’t have to normalize sexual harassment and sexual abuse anywhere, and certainly not in the workplace,” Otis said.

Director Clare Richards says the three-part docuseries looks at the dark side of what was happening for three decades in the fashion industry.

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“It starts in the ’80s and brings us right up to present day to look at the way in which agents of very well-known agencies were promising teenagers, girls, the expectation of lucrative careers in fashion — which did sometimes happen — but there was also this really dark underbelly that led to grooming, coercion, and rape that went on and on and on pretty much in plain sight,”  Richards said.

“I really realized how much I had normalized, just to sort of survive, what I had been through in the industry. I was a minor, I was 17, when I was trafficked from San Francisco to New York, and from New York to Paris, France,” Carré Otis said.

“I was told that I was going to get to go stay at the boss’s apartment, and in my vulnerability and naivety, and having just dropped into this whole new world where I was in over my head, I thought that it was actually a good thing. I thought I was actually sort of a chosen one, and that it was hopeful that I was gonna go stay in the apartment of Gerald Marie.”

What followed was an experience that changed Otis’ life forever.

“I got there, and it turned out he became my perpetrator for quite some time. And it was also made very clear to me during that time, that if I protested and there was nowhere really to protest,” Carré Otis added. “It was really the beginning of tremendous dissociation and traumatization and compartmentalization that, you know, I sort of created just as a survival for my experiences at that time.”

Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret is produced by The Guardian reporter Lucy Osborne. Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret airs on Sky Documentaries on June 24th. Here are the time stamps from the Factual America interview:

00:00 – Introduction and a clip from Scouting for Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret.
03:02 – What the docuseries is about.
07:15 – What Carré Otis’s experienced as a minor and when she started speaking out about it.
13:50 – The scale of abuse that has been happening in the fashion industry.
16:40 – The challenges of telling the story and survivors reliving their experiences.
19:28 – How prevalent the abuse in the fashion industry is today.
21:15 – Clip: Carré Otis testifying to the French police.
25:40 – How Lucy Osborne turned the investigative journalism piece into a docuseries.
31:00 – Why now is the right time to show this story.
39:22 – How the statute of limitation on sexual assault in different states affects the victims.
42:05 – What Lucy, Clare and Carré would like to see change in the fashion industry.
45:10 – What they want the legacy of this documentary to be.
48:00 – How the victims can reach out to the Model Alliance and share their story.
54:00 – Further information on the allegations made in Scouting for Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret.

Factual America uses documentary filmmaking to examine the American experience as well as universal topics that affect all Americans. Guests include Academy Award, Emmy, and Grammy-winning filmmakers and producers, their subjects, as well as experts on the American experience. We discuss true crime, music, burning social and political topics, history and arts with the creators of the latest and upcoming documentary films in theatres and on the most popular digital platforms. This podcast is produced by Alamo Pictures, a London- and Austin-based production company that makes documentaries about the US from a European perspective for international audiences.

Main Image: Carré Otis pictured in Scouting for Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret courtesy of Factual America.