By Tyler McCarthy
Published August 08, 2019
More than 100 Victoria’s Secret models signed an open letter addressed to the company’s CEO calling for action to protect models and prevent sexual abuse and misconduct.
In addition to models like Caitriona Balfe, Christy Turlington and Doutzen Kroes, organizations like TIME’S UP and the Model Alliance signed the letter as well.
“We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret. In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria's Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation,” the letter addressed to CEO, John Mehas reads.
The letter noted allegations against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose powerful friends over the years have included President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. He was arrested on July 6 on sex trafficking charges and pleaded not guilty to accusations he ran a trafficking operation involving underage girls.
“From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls,” the letter reads.
The letter encourages the Victoria’s Secret brand to cooperate with the RESPECT Program, a non-profit, legal agreement designed by models in 2018 with the goal of ending abuse in the fashion industry.
“We are calling on Victoria’s Secret to take meaningful action to protect its talent and those who aspire to work with the company. Victoria’s Secret has the opportunity to be a leader, to use its power and influence to bring about the changes that are urgently needed in our industry,” the letter concludes. “Every day, fashion brands, publishing companies, and agencies set the norms of what’s acceptable and what’s not in fashion. If Victoria’s Secret were to take a stand against these abuses and commit to meaningful change by joining the RESPECT Program, this would go a long way in helping our industry chart a new path forward.”