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“We can confirm that our Caroline passed away today on the 15th February,” read a family statement given to the U.K.’s Press Association. “We would ask that the press both respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time.”
“Everybody at Love Island and ITV is shocked and saddened by this desperately sad news. Caroline was a much loved member of the Love Island team and our sincere thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends,“ an ITV spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement.
“I am utterly devastated at Caroline’s passing and cannot comment further about matters, including the criminal proceedings, at the moment. My thoughts are with Caroline’s family as we respect their privacy at this very sad and difficult time,“ Flack’s lawyer, Paul Morris, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
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The former Love Island host, who stepped down from the popular U.K. series after she was charged with assault in December 2019, which she pled not guilty to, was found dead at her apartment on Saturday, according to The Sun and the Daily Mail.
“It was only a matter of time before the media and a prolonged social media dogpile, hers lasted for MONTHS, pushed someone completely over the edge,” wrote The Good Place star Jameela Jamil, referencing the negative stories and comments about Flack that have been circulating online in the past months.
“Rest In Peace Caroline Flack. This is f— horrendous,” she added.
Musician James Blake, who is dating actress Jamil, added: “This is the effect of online and print bullying. This is what dehumanizing and hounding people leads to. As a society we need to find our compassion and empathy. We don’t know what other people are going through as they almost always present an ‘ok’ front.”
“Words are way more powerful than you think… never forgot to tell your loved ones that you love them,” added Kelly Osbourne in another powerful tribute. “What a special person @carolineflack was. She lit up every room because she shined so brightly. To say I’m saddened by her loss is simply not enough. It was an honor and a privilege to have known you and to call you my friend. 💜 I can’t even believe I’m writing this. 😢.”
Many former Love Island contestants also honored their friend.
“I’m utterly shocked and heartbroken. Caroline you were such a special woman. Your huge smile will stay with me forever… Rest in peace,” said Love Island season 5 winner Molly-Mae Hague, alongside a video that showed Flack comforting the contestant.
Season 4’s Ellie Brown added: “My heart is breaking… I’m so sorry for what you had to go through these past few months, nobody deserves this. Thank you for one of the best experiences of my life. Rest in peace.”
“You supported me always, you were so kind to me & my family, I will never forget that. I spoke to you, and gave my support during the recent media intrusion. The media & trolls are killing people. Please THINK before you speak,” wrote fellow season 2 alum Zara Holland.
“Today my friend wandered into heaven. I bet it was in slow motion and sassy as f—. Love you x,” added longtime announcer Ian Stirling.
The British TV presenter made the announcement that she was stepping down from hosting Love Island in December 2019, shortly before the start of the upcoming season, which is currently airing in the U.K.
The announcement after she charged with assault by beating in December, following “an incident at approximately 05:24hrs on Thursday, 12 December after reports of a man assaulted,” a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police previously told CNN in a statement. The spokesperson confirmed that the man was not seriously injured.
A spokesman for Flack addressed the news in a statement to the BBC at the time: “We confirm that police attended Caroline’s home following a private domestic incident. She is co-operating with the appropriate people to resolve matters. We will not be making any further comment for legal reasons.”
In a December court appearance, Flack pled not guilty to the charge of assaulting her boyfriend, former professional tennis player and model Lewis Burton, CNN reported at the time via the PA news agency.
Flack was released on bail with conditions that prevent her from having contact with Burton ahead of the March 4 trial, according to the reports.
Flack went on to address the court appearance on her Instagram Story, writing, “Thankfully I know a lot of you will not believe all that you have heard and read following today’s court hearing…Thank you for your continued support and love…It’s going to be a relief when I am able to give my side of the story, when I’m allowed to x.”
Burton, 27, also spoke out on his Instagram Story, denying that Flack had hit him. “What I witnessed today was horrible,” he wrote. “She did not hit me with a lamp…Arguments do happen every day in every relationship. Gutted I am not allowed to protect her right now.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.