Gérard Depardieu Under Investigation After Rape Accusation


PARIS — Prosecutors here are investigating rape allegations against the French film star Gérard Depardieu, the Paris authorities said on Thursday.

Mr. Depardieu, a versatile international actor whose career has spanned more than 40 years and 200 movies, has been accused by a young actress of sexually assaulting her on two occasions earlier this month at his home in the fashionable Sixth Arrondissement, the French news media reported.

Mr. Depardieu took the actress, a woman in her 20s, “under his wing” and gave her career advice, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Its website reported Thursday that the woman said she had been assaulted during rehearsals for a theater production.

Judicial officials said Thursday that the original complaint was made on Monday to officials in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. They turned it over to the Paris prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said a preliminary investigation into the allegations of rape and sexual assault was underway. If the investigation warrants a formal inquiry, the case will proceed to the next step. The prosecutor’s office would not comment further and did not name the woman who had made the accusations.

The actor’s lawyer told BFM television that Mr. Depardieu was “stunned” by the accusations and “absolutely contests any sexual assault,” and “any rape, any infractions.” The lawyer, Hervé Temime, said the accusations were “the opposite of what Mr. Depardieu is” and that “he doesn’t accept the accusations” which “hurt him a lot.”

Mr. Depardieu is the second prominent French film figure to be accused of rape this year, after the director Luc Besson. The reaction to the well-documented accusations against Mr. Besson has been relatively muted when compared with similar charges against American celebrities — although a French #MeToo movement, #BalanceTonPorc (Call Out Your Pig) did spring up — underscoring the difference between the sexual culture in the two countries.

The actress Catherine Deneuve and more than 100 other prominent Frenchwomen signed a letter in January that appeared in the newspaper Le Monde, saying that the #MeToo movement had gone too far. She later publicly apologized to victims of sexual violence who had been offended by the letter.

French television dealt summarily with the accusations on Thursday night’s news, not dwelling on them, suggesting that a Harvey Weinstein-like reaction in France is not to be expected.

Mr. Depardieu, charismatic and intense, has dominated the French screen for decades, playing many of the central figures in French literature in film adaptations. He is known for his wide range, which includes dramas, comedies and historical recreations — he played the fiery revolutionary figure Danton in a memorable 1983 film — and is known to be a bon vivant.

He has been the subject of controversy for years, most recently when he acquired Russian citizenship after protesting French taxes, lauded the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin and praised Russia as a “great democracy.”

Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting.

Source : Nytimes