French actor Gerard Depardieu is charged with raping a young actress. — AFP pic
French actor Gerard Depardieu is charged with raping a young actress. — AFP pic

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PARIS, Feb 24 ― Actor Gerard Depardieu is the latest member of France’s film and literary elite to be accused of sexual assault, with the 72-year-old charged with raping a young actress.

While the #MeToo movement was slower to take hold in France despite some of the accusations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein having taken place at the Cannes film festival, there has been a dam-burst of allegations since.

Roman Polanski: Fugitive

The director of Rosemary’s Baby and The Pianist has faced a number of sex assault allegations since fleeing to France from Los Angeles in 1978 after admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.

The United States has tried on several occasions to extradite the Oscar winner, who is a dual French-Polish national.

In 2019 French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in his Swiss chalet in 1975 when she was 18-year-old actress, saying he tried to give her a pill as he beat her “into submission”.

Polanski denies the allegations.

Luc Besson: Nine accusers

Luc Besson ― once France’s most powerful movie moguls ― has been embroiled in two rape investigations sparked by Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy accusing him of repeatedly raping her over a two-year period.

She is one of nine women who have said they were assaulted or harassed by the powerful director and producer, maker of Nikita and The Fifth Element, who has always denied the accusations.

Van Roy, 28, had minor roles in Besson’s Taxi 5 and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Last month Besson was named as an assisted witness in the second case involving Van Roy, which indicates that a judge considers there is some evidence to suggest culpability, but not enough to charge.

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Haenel: Harassed at 12

Adele Haenel, one of the country’s most acclaimed actresses, is credited with helping break an omerta in the French industry by saying she was sexually harassed as a 12-year-old by the director of her first film.

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation in 2019 into the claims.

Haenel, now 32, says Christophe Ruggia subjected her to “constant sexual harassment” from the age of 12 to 15, including “forced kisses on the neck” and touching during a three-year spell working on the 2002 film, The Devils.

Ruggia denied sexual harassment but was expelled from the French Society of Film Directors after admitting that his “adulation” for the actress could have proved distressing.

Matzneff: Underage conquests

Celebrated essayist Gabriel Matzneff is facing trial after publisher Vanessa Springora ― one of his many underage lovers ― detailed their relationship three decades ago in a ground-breaking memoir called “Consent”.

The bestseller, now being made into a film, details the hold he had over her when she was 14.

Matzneff, now 84, never made a secret of his preference for adolescent girls and boys but still got a special state pension as well as winning one of the country’s top literary awards in 2013.

He wrote about his paedophile sex trips to Asia and published a notorious essay in the 1970s in defence of sex with children, “The Under 16s”, in which he recounted his “conquests”. ― AFP



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