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Photographer guilty of sexually assaulting aspiring actress 10 years ago

West End theatre photographer Pascal Molliere arrives at Southwark Crown Court, south London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
West End theatre photographer Pascal Molliere arrives at Southwark Crown Court, south London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A West End photographer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting an aspiring actress in his studio more than a decade ago.

Pascal Molliere, 55, exploited the woman during an hour-long photoshoot at a warehouse in Fulham, west London, in July 2010.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court heard he locked the door and was “polite and professional” for the first 15 minutes before kissing and repeatedly groping the victim, then aged 22.

The woman had moved to London to pursue acting and had borrowed money from her mother to pay for portfolio images to publicise herself, the court heard.

Prosecutor Tyrone Silcott said Molliere started out taking headshots but then photographed her from underneath with her legs open, told her she had a “beautiful vagina” and touched her genitals.

After leaving the studio the woman “burst into tears” and told her boyfriend about what had happened, jurors heard.

Her boyfriend branded 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.

“For her part, she felt uncomfortable and upset,” the prosecutor said.

“After the photoshoot had finished, the defendant kissed her with ‘a full kiss on the mouth’.

“The kiss made her feel sick.”

Mr Silcott told jurors that ahead of the shoot, Molliere asked the woman whether she wanted “to do fashion or sexy shots”.

The woman agreed to bring lingerie because she was interested in modelling and “felt it might be nice to take some photographs for her and her then partner”, he added.

She said she was inspired to report Molliere to the police in 2019 after the #MeToo movement gained momentum.

Molliere denied all counts against him, claiming the incident “absolutely” did not happen and the woman left his studio seeming “elated”.

He said when he received a call from her boyfriend days later, he believed the couple had fallen out over the sexual nature of the pictures.

A jury convicted him of three counts of sexual assault after deliberating for two days.

Molliere, from Hampshire, will return for sentence on 12 April.

Pauline Curtis, from the CPS, said: “In his capacity as a professional photographer Pascal Molliere exploited a young woman who had simply wanted a portfolio of images to help her begin an acting career. She did not consent to any sexual activity. The victim trusted Molliere as a professional photographer, however, that trust was abused while she was in her most vulnerable state.”

She added: “The prosecution case included strong testimony from the brave victim who came to court and gave evidence against her abuser during the trial.

“Sexual offences are some of the most complex cases that we prosecute. I hope these convictions provide the victim with some closure and encourage other victims of such crimes to come forward and report their attackers. The CPS is committed to bringing sexual predators to justice regardless of the time that has passed.”

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