West End photographer jailed for sexual assaulting aspiring actress during shoot

12 April 2022, 20:39 | Updated: 12 April 2022, 20:42

Molliere was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court
Molliere was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A renowned West End photographer who sexually assaulted an aspiring actress in his studio has been jailed for three years.

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

He had asked the woman, then aged 22, whether she wanted "to do fashion or sexy shots" and encouraged her to bring a variety of outfits.

The photographer locked the studio door, encouraged her to remove clothing and pose for increasingly 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 on Tuesday.

He was previously found guilty by a jury of three counts of sexual assault following a nine-day trial.

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Judge Philip Bartle QC said it was a "clear case of abuse of trust" which had a "life-changing" impact on the victim.

"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 the capital to pursue an acting career and had borrowed money from her mother to pay for portfolio images.

Prosecutor Tyrone Silcott said Molliere was a "highly renowned and highly regarded photographer of celebrities and actors" who was in "a position of power".

Reading her victim impact statement from the witness box on Tuesday, 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 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 was also handed a 10-year sexual harm prevention order banning him from working as a photographer without police permission.

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