De­fi­ant acid at­tack vic­tim back at work

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD -

A former Ital­ian beauty queen who accuses a jeal­ous ex-boyfriend of dis­fig­ur­ing her in an acid at­tack is re­turn­ing to her job as a sea lion trainer, to in­spire other women to fight back against stalk­ers.

Ges­sica No­taro, 28, whose face is badly scarred and who wears an eye patch, posted a photo of her­self pos­ing with sea lions at an aquar­ium in Ri­mini this week with the mes­sage: ‘‘My strength? Here it is.’’

The former Miss Italy fi­nal­ist was doused in hy­drochlo­ric acid in Jan­uary by a man she iden­ti­fied as Jorge Ed­son Tavares, orig­i­nally from the Cape Verde is­lands, who had been stalk­ing her since she ended their two-year re­la­tion­ship.

No­taro had com­plained about the stalk­ing, only for a judge to over­rule an or­der by a mag­is­trate to ar­rest Tavares.

Other Ital­ian women have been in­jured or killed by former part­ners af­ter their re­ports to police were ig­nored.

Ap­pear­ing on Ital­ian TV in April, No­taro re­moved a veil cov­er­ing her in­juries, say­ing: ‘‘I want you to see what he did. This is not love.

‘‘I will be back to who I was, even if I can­not see the sun for years with­out masks and ban­dages,’’ she added. ‘‘I won’t be able to swim with my beloved dol­phins be­cause the chlo­rine would be dev­as­tat­ing.

‘‘I don’t for­give Eddy, and I never will, but I don’t hate him.’’

No­taro will present night shows at the aquar­ium dur­ing the northern sum­mer.

At a hear­ing in April dur­ing Tavares’ trial, which re­sumes next month, No­taro stared at him across the court­room, re­mov­ing her eye patch at one point to show him her in­juries.

The court heard that Tavares was jeal­ous of one of her col­leagues, Allen Es­pos­ito Linares, be­liev­ing him to be her lover.

Linares told the court that Tavares had threat­ened him with a sword. On the night of the acid at­tack, he dropped No­taro at her home in his car, wait­ing to see if Tavares was hang­ing around, as he had done in the past. See­ing noone, he left, just mo­ments be­fore the acid was thrown in her face.

No­taro wrote on In­sta­gram this week that Linares had looked af­ter her as she re­cov­ered from her oper­a­tions, and that they were now ro­man­ti­cally in­volved.

‘‘With real love, he has made it clear that de­spite all that has hap­pened to me, I am still for him the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world,’’ she wrote.

Former Miss Italy fi­nal­ist Ges­sica No­taro is re­turn­ing to her job as a sea lion trainer at an aquar­ium in Ri­mini.

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