French film giant Gerard Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday, the latest in a string of such allegations against prominent figures in France.
Depardieu, one of the most famous actors of his generation, is accused of assaulting and raping an actress in her 20s in 2018.
An initial investigation into the rape accusations against the 72-year old Depardieu was dropped in 2019 for lack of evidence.
But it was reopened last summer, leading to criminal charges being filed in December, the judicial source said. The actress accuses Depardieu of having raped and assaulted her at his Parisian home on two separate occasions in August 2018.
Depardieu’s lawyer Herve Temime told AFP that the actor, who is free but under judicial supervision, “completely rejects the accusations”.
According to a source close to the case, Depardieu is a friend of the actress’s family. Some reports have suggested that Depardieu and the actress were rehearsing a scene of a theatre play, but the source said “there was nothing professional about the encounter”.
The woman’s lawyer, Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon, told AFP that she hoped her client’s “private sphere will be respected” as the case unfolds.
Besides long being a superstar in his home country, Depardieu is one of France’s best-known actors abroad.
– No stranger to scandal –
He won acclaim in French-language films such as “The Last Metro” and “Jean de Florette,” but went on to perform in a range of English-language movies, including the romantic comedy “Green Card” and a film version of “Hamlet”.
But over the course of his career he has often been embroiled in scandals which have hit the headlines.
He is the father of four, including the actor Guillaume Depardieu who died in 2008.
Just over three years since the #MeToo movement broke taboos around rape across the world, France is seeing another outpouring of stories and a wide-ranging debate about sex, power and consent.
Each week has brought new revelations targeting 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.
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 at the home of his co-defendant.