Depardieu faces probe over alleged sex assaults

Depardieu faces probe over alleged sex assaults

PARIS - AFP
Depardieu faces probe over alleged sex assaults

France's biggest international star Gerard Depardieu on Aug. 30 issued a strong denial after it emerged he faces an inquiry into allegations by a young actress of rape and sexual assault.

Depardieu "absolutely denies any attack, any rape," his lawyer Herve Temime said on his behalf, reacting to news that the Paris public prosecutor's office has opened a preliminary inquiry over alleged "rapes and sexual assaults."

The probe follows a complaint lodged on Aug. 27 in southern Provence, according to a judicial source.

The complainant was "a young actress and dancer in her twenties," the Parisian newspaper said, adding that she alleged the actor sexually abused her on the sidelines of a play rehearsal and at his home on Aug. 7 and 13.

Depardieu, 69, is known as a larger-than-life character with a life-long penchant for making headlines.

The accusations against him are the latest in a string made against prominent men in the wake of the rape and assault claims against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the Me Too movement that they gave rise to.

"I regret the public nature of this process which poses a major prejudice to Gerard Depardieu, whose innocence I am convinced will be recognized," his lawyer Temime added, calling for restraint on all sides.

A prolific actor having made more than 180 films, Depardieu became the very face of French cinema due to roles in films such as "Cyrano de Bergerac" for which won best actor at the Cannes film festival and was nominated for an Oscar.

In 2013 Depardieu sparked a huge outcry by leaving France and taking Russian nationality in protest at a proposed tax hike on the rich in his homeland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin treated him to a dinner to present him with his new citizenship and Depardieu was subsequently full of praise in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Gerard Depardieu, actor, sex assault