French cinema giant Gérard Depardieu has been accused of rape and sexual assault, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday, the latest in a series of such allegations against figures in France.
Depardieu, one of the most famous actors of his generation, is accused of assaulting and raping an actress in her twenties in 2018.
An initial investigation into the rape charges against Depardieu, 72, was dropped in 2019 for lack of evidence.
But it was reopened last summer, which led to criminal prosecution in December, the judicial source said.
The actress accuses Depardieu of having raped and assaulted her twice in her Parisian home in August 2018.
Depardieu’s lawyer, Hervé Temime, told AFP that the actor, free but under judicial supervision, “totally rejects the accusations”.
He also said he regretted that the case had been made public.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Depardieu is a friend of the actress’ family.
Some reports suggested that Depardieu and the actress were rehearsing a scene from a play, but the source said “there was nothing professional about this meeting”.
The woman’s lawyer, Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon, told AFP that she hoped that “her client’s privacy will be respected” as the case progresses.
In addition to being for a long time a superstar in his country of origin, Depardieu is one of the most famous French actors abroad.
He has been acclaimed in French-language films such as “The Last Metro” and “Jean de Florette”, but has gone on to perform in a range of English films, including the romantic comedy “Carte verte” and an English version. film of “Hamlet”.
He is famous for having tirelessly shot film after film with more than 200 cinema and television films in more than 50 years.
But during his career he was often involved in scandals that made headlines and caused temper tantrums.
Its dark side
He knocked out a paparazzi in 2005, urinated in the cabin of a Paris-Dublin flight in 2011, and attacked a motorist in central Paris in 2012. The following year, he was fined for driving in intoxicated.
“The man is dark but the actor is huge,” actress Catherine Deneuve, who starred alongside Depardieu in The Last Metro, said of him.
Depardieu announced at the end of 2012 that he “surrendered his passport” to protest against French tax rates, went into tax exile in Belgium and became a Russian citizen whom he called a “great democracy”, regularly praising the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After the reopening of the case brought by the actress by the Paris prosecutor’s office, an examining magistrate questioned Depardieu on December 16 and, finding “serious and corroborated evidence”, filed a complaint.
Police also held a clash between Depardieu and his alleged victim, a judicial source said.
Depardieu is the father of four children, including actor Guillaume Depardieu who died in 2008.
Besides his prolific acting career, he has also been a winemaker, restaurateur and singer.
A little over three years after the #MeToo movement broke taboos around rape around the world, France is experiencing a wave of stories and a broad debate over sex, power and consent.
Wave of allegations
Other big names in cinema to be accused of sexual assault or rape include director Luc Besson, whose films include “Nikita” and “The Fifth Element”.
Week after week, new revelations have targeted the rich and powerful, with one of the country’s best-known television presenters, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, becoming the latest to be accused of rape.
The French political establishment has also been rocked by similar accusations, in particular against the current Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin.
And a former French government minister, Georges Tron, last week began serving three years in prison after a court found him guilty of raping an employee during “foot massages” in his office and in the hospital. home of his co-accused.
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