A GoFundMe for a Somalian refugee fashion model has raised over $10,000 after a viral post claimed he was the victim of a predatory agency that left him homeless. New information has now revealed Issack Abdi Sadik had in fact sexually harassed underage girls while in model housing, and had stolen at least 10 cellphones from his agency.
Sadik, 25, was first “discovered” by Elite Model Management after arriving to Paris as a refugee in 2019. He was quickly seen as a rising star in the modeling world, and was given the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most renowned fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton and Rick Owens.
But last week, fashion journalist Louis Pisano took to X to reveal that Sadik had been living on the streets of Paris since July of 2023, and claimed that he had not been compensated for his work with some of the elite contracts he had been assigned to.
“Apparently Elite who scouted refugee Issack Abdi after seeing him sleeping in the street in 2022 have not paid him despite him walking Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens & more last season & he’s been spotted homeless in the metro begging,” Pisano wrote, sparking outrage amongst his more than 33,000 followers. Pisano’s thread boosted news that had already been circulating about Sadik which portrayed him as having been a victim of exploitation, including a lengthy profile in left-wing outlet Libération.
As a result of Pisano’s thread, Mari Malek, a model from South Sudan, launched a heartfelt GoFundMe for Sadik, appealing for donations to help Sadik get off the streets.
Malek established the campaign as part of her Runways to Freedom charity effort, which was established to assist refugees working in the modeling industry.
“[Sadik] was ALREADY displaced as a refugee and looking for an opportunity to change his life but as he was discovered to model for work, he was not paid and became homeless and has no money nor any resources to get his life together after working for the top fashion houses in Paris! He has been living on the streets of Paris sin July 2023,” she wrote in the fundraiser’s description, quickly accumulating over $10,000 in just two days.
But new information circulating about Sadik paints a very different story of his ordeal.
At least one woman has come forward to accuse Sadik of disturbing behavior, recounting an incident in which Sadik sexually assaulted her and then stalked her and her friends through Paris while threatening them with a glass bottle.
“It was on Rivoli Street. I was with my group of friends and he came from behind and grabbed my butt. When we all wanted to confront him about that, he started insulting us,” X user @yutasfavb wrote in a thread that was originally posted in 2023 but has now gone viral.
The user goes on to recount how Sadik then spat on her young sister and smashed a glass bottle of alcohol in front of them in an effort to frighten them.
On January 9, Louis Pisano once again took to social media, this time to reveal he had been contacted by ELITE Models and advised about what had happened with Sadik.
“Due to the sensitive nature of it I’m not going to go into great detail. This is the testimony from Elite. The day Issack was scouted off the street and brought to the office they organized for him to move into a model apartment that night,” Pisano wrote.
“Soon after according to Elite he came into the apartment drunk on numerous occasions and began harassing some of the female models also living there, some of which were underage. He was then moved to another apartment. The agency bought him a phone and SIM card immediately but soon after he came to office saying it had been stolen.”
Pisano described that the agency then purchased Sadik another phone, which he again claimed was stolen shortly after and demanded a new one. The agency claims to have purchased Sadik an upwards of 10 cellphones.
Sadik would frequently demand more money and to be gifted designer clothes, so Elite Model Management staff arranged for him to get a job at upscale bistro L’Avenue to supplement his income in addition to his modeling. While working there, he became aggressive with other staff members, and towards the immigration worker who had been assigned to help him with his paperwork. The worker, who was female, was reportedly so shaken by Sadik’s behavior that she removed herself from his case.
Pisano said that Elite chose to end their contract with Sadik in summer of last year due to his increasingly hostile behavior, but offered to pay for his apartment for the month of August in an effort to help him get re-established elsewhere. Sadik then destroyed the apartment.
Pisano has now withdrawn his support for the fundraiser, and deleted his original post on Sadik’s situation.
“I’ve seen that Mari Malek has now made a GoFundMe for him that is almost at 10k. For me personally after hearing details of his alleged [sexual assaults] I can’t in good conscience get anymore involved with it.”
Pisano’s thread has since gone viral, attracting almost one million views since being published yesterday and sparking debate and discussion in the comments.
One user replied to Pisano and said that her sister, who also works with Elite Model Management, had heard similar things about Sadik.
My sister is signed to elite so i heard the stories of this man. They got a random pretty junkie off the street and cleaned him up and put him in a house with minors. pic.twitter.com/fmNeQl0rtc— ♡ (@dollslag) January 10, 2024
“Why on earth would they house him with minors? There’s something greasy about picking up a homeless man to put him into spotlight. What homeless person would say no to the money & be completely mentally stable after such a drastic change. Not an excuse of him but it’s predatory,” another user commented.
While most are praising Pisano for bringing attention to the new information he’d received, others are condemning him for not being generous enough to Sadik.
Mari Malek, the model who established the fundraiser for Sadik, doubled down.
“Thank you for bringing up his story. But I wouldn’t believe everything I hear. Issack will share his truth soon. We had to make sure to get him out the cold and put him in warm place and as of today, for the first time since July he is not homeless,” she said. After being criticized for doubting the testimony of Sadik’s alleged victims, she quickly issued another statement.
“Just to be clear, I do not condone any form of abuse nor do I know any facts about it. I raise awareness about refugees. I am simply doing my best to provide this young refugee man and other exploited refugees the help they need especially if it comes to mental health.”