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May 29, 2024

Sexual Assault Case Against Gérard Depardieu Dropped Due to Statute of Limitations

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Jan 22, 2024

French prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault investigation into acclaimed actor Gérard Depardieu, citing the statute of limitations. The case stems from accusations made in 2018 by a young actress who alleged that Depardieu assaulted her during rehearsals for a play.

Background on the Allegations

In August 2018, a French actress in her 20s, who has only been identified as Hélène D., filed a complaint alleging that Depardieu had assaulted her on two occasions earlier that month during rehearsals for a play at his Paris home.

The woman claimed the incidents occurred on August 7th and 13th when Depardieu, then 69, was helping her rehearse a scene from a play written by Depardieu’s friend Philippe Sollers (1). According to transcripts of her police interview published by French media, Hélène D. alleged that Depardieu touched her breasts and inserted his fingers in her vagina without her consent (2).

Depardieu, known for films like “Green Card” and “Cyrano de Bergerac,” denied the allegations. He was placed under preliminary investigation later that August but was never charged (3).

Case Dismissed Due to Statute of Limitations

On January 20th, 2024 Paris prosecutors dismissed the investigation, saying the case had passed the statute of limitations (4).

Prosecutors said that under French law, the three-year time limit for prosecuting the alleged assault had expired. The last incident Hélène D. cited dates back to August 2018, meaning the statute of limitations ran out in August 2021 (5).

Hélène D.’s lawyer said that his client had agreed to be questioned by investigators numerous times and “regrets” the decision to dismiss the case (6).

Mixed Reactions in France

The dismissal of the case has prompted mixed reactions in France. Some have praised the decision, while others believe Depardieu evaded justice:

  • Feminist groups have criticized the dismissal, arguing it shows the inadequacy of statutes of limitations for sex crimes (7).
  • French President Emmanuel Macron stirred controversy after defending Depardieu last year, saying he deserved the “presumption of innocence” (8).
  • Many in the French film industry have rallied around Depardieu, with over 100 celebrities signing a petition supporting him last year (9).
  • But some argue Depardieu represents a culture of impunity for powerful men accused of sex crimes (10).
Side Perspective
Supporters of Dismissal Case was weak, unfair to persecute Depardieu without charges, statute of limitations exists for a reason
Critics of Dismissal Shows powerful men evade consequences, statute of limitations should not apply to sex crimes

What Happens Next

With the case officially closed in France’s legal system, Depardieu is free from the threat of prosecution. But the dismissal seems unlikely resolve the fierce public debate around France’s beloved, yet controversial actor.

The allegations and investigation have already taken a toll on Depardieu’s once illustrious career. Several films featuring the actor have been cancelled or faced boycotts (11), and many see him as persona non grata in an industry newly awakened to #MeToo.

Depardieu has decamped to Russia in recent years, befriending President Vladimir Putin and taking Russian citizenship. For now, he seems likely to focus on European and Russian film projects removed from the glare of the French press.

As for statute of limitation laws, feminist groups plan to continue pressuring French lawmakers to eliminate such restrictions for sex crimes going forward (12). While Depardieu himself is protected, they hope longer time windows could bring justice to future victims.

So while the legal chapter may be closed, the societal reckoning around Depardieu and #MeToo in France will continue for years to come.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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