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23 Jan, 2024 01:45

Prosecutors dismiss Depardieu sexual assault claim

Actress Helene Darras accused the French superstar of groping her on a film set
Prosecutors dismiss Depardieu sexual assault claim

A sexual assault complaint against French actor Gerard Depardieu has been dismissed because it had passed the statute of limitations, the public prosecutor’s office in Paris said on Monday. Actress Helene Darras filed the complaint in September 2023 over an incident she alleged to have taken place in 2007.

Darras told AFP that the decision came as no surprise, and that she had filed a complaint because she “could no longer remain silent.” 

“From now on, if my testimony enables the justice system to make progress on the complaints that are not constrained by time, or if it allows other victims to speak out, or even relaunches the debate about the [statute of limitations], all of this will not be in vain,” Darras said. 

Darras claims that Depardieu repeatedly groped her on the set of the film ‘Disco’ in 2007. A total of 16 women have come forth with accusations of sexual assault against the 75-year-old actor, according to online newspaper Mediapart, which published some of the new allegations in April 2023. A separate lawsuit filed by actress Charlotte Arnould is still ongoing, the prosecutors said. 

Depardieu has denied any wrongdoing, describing the wave of allegations against him as a “lynching.” More than 50 French celebrities – including actors Pierre Rochard, Vincent Perez, Carole Bouquet, Charlotte Rampling, and singer Carla Bruni – signed an open letter in December urging an end to the “torrent of hatred” against Depardieu. 

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized by women’s rights groups and politicians for praising Depardieu and suggesting that the presumption of innocence should apply to the actor. 

One of France’s most acclaimed actors, Depardieu has starred in more than 100 films. He received the Cesar – the most prestigious French film award – in 1981 and 1991, and was nominated for an Oscar in 1990.