Marie was the subject of a criminal investigation spanning more than two years for a string of alleged sexual assault and rape offences that took place in the 1980s and 1990s.Prosecutors closed the investigation Monday on the grounds that the alleged crimes took place too long ago to fall within the French statute of limitations for a trial, Agence France-Presse reported. One woman who initially filed a complaint as part of the investigation said she would appeal the decision, according to AFP. She and other women are also continuing to pursue a civil complaint against the executive, the story said.The news is a setback to Marie’s accusers and advocacy group Model Alliance, which has advocated for legal action in cases of abuse in the industry. The organisation helped models come forward with allegations against Marie, claiming at least 16 women have accused the former modelling executive of rape and sexual assault.“Today is a difficult day for survivors,” the New York-based organisation said in a statement responding to the news on Wednesday. “We stand with the resilient group of survivor leaders in our community who have courageously come forward about the abuse they faced by Marie as young models in pursuit of justice.”Céline Bekerman, a lawyer representing Marie said that the decision demonstrates her client’s innocence, characterising the allegations against the executive as an “infamous media campaign.”Former supermodel Carré Sutton (née Otis), who brought her own suit against Marie in 2021 and cooperated in the French case, described the news of its close as “heartbreaking” in an Instagram post on Wednesday. Sutton’s New York case, in which she alleged Marie “repeatedly raped” and “trafficked” her to other men in Europe when she was working as a teenage model in Paris, was dismissed last year. She is appealing the decision, according to public records.The Model Alliance said it would continue to campaign for better protections within the modelling industry.“Still today, modeling agencies remain largely unregulated, perpetuating the systemic sexual assault and trafficking of young women and girls across the globe,” the group said in its statement. “Our fight isn’t over.”Learn more:Ex-Models Go Public With Allegations of Assault By Former Elite Model Boss Gérald MarieMultiple women have spoken out about their experiences after providing testimony to French investigators.