French actor Gerard Depardieu has been charged with sexual assault and rape after allegations he committed the acts against an actress in 2018.
The first investigation into the accusations against the 72-year-old was dropped over lack of evidence, but was later reopened and led to criminal charges filed in December, a judicial source told AFP today.
The movie star was first accused of assaulting and raping an actress in her 20s at his home in Paris in August 2018, reports the Daily Mail. The investigation was opened on August 27 when the young woman filed a complaint against the actor for rape and sexual aggression near the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.
It was passed on to Paris officers but they dropped the probe after nine months in early 2019 as investigators did not gather enough proof to press formal charges.
Depardieu's lawyer, Herve Temime, said at the time that the actor "absolutely denies any rape, any sexual assault, any crime" and dismissed the complaint as "groundless".
But the young woman relaunched proceedings by acting as an "injured party", which according to French law nearly always leads to a case being re-examined by a judge.
A source close to the case claims that Depardieu is a friend of the actress' family. They also said there was "nothing professional" about the incident, although some reports suggested Depardieu and the actress were rehearsing a theatre scene.
The actress' lawyer Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon said she hoped her client's "private sphere will be respected" as the case continues.
Depardieu is known as a stalwart of French cinema due to his film roles such as Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean de Florette and Camille Claudel. He has also had a successful international movie career, making over 180 films working with directors like Peter Weir and Ridley Scott.
He sparked a huge outcry in 2013 by leaving France and taking Russian nationality to protest at a proposed tax increase on the rich in his country. Russia's president Vladimir Putin hosted him for dinner to present him with his Russian citizenship.
The French actor divorced his first wife, actress Elisabeth Guignot, in 1996. He then dated Carole Bouquet, also a successful French actress, from 1997 to 2005.
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