French actor Gérard Depardieu accused of sexual violence by 13 women

French actor Gérard Depardieu accused of sexual violence by 13 women
French actor Gerard Depardieu arrives at a Brussels ceremony in his honour, part of the Brussels International Film Festival, June 2018 in Brussels. Credit: Belga / Thierry Roge

Famed French actor Gérard Depardieu has been accused of acts of sexual violence by 13 women, notably on the set of 11 films released between 2004 and 2022, as well as on the set of the TV show "Marseille," revealed a Mediapart investigation on Tuesday. The accusations come in addition to a 2018 lawsuit in which the actor was indicted on allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The months-long investigation gathered testimonies of actresses, make-up artists, and technical staff who recounted being touched against their will, insulted and more, by the now 74-year-old actor. They recall that other people on the filming sets, who very often witnessed the mistreatment, were tolerant of Depardieu's sexual misconduct.

"[The women] had to suffer hands groping in their pants, between their legs, on their bum or on their chest; they have endured obscene sexual remarks and sometimes they have had to put up with persistent groaning noises. Such actions were often followed by laughter on the set. And the same phrase kept recurring when some of them complained: Oh it's okay, it's Gérard!" writes author Marine Turchi in the investigation.

The 'giant of French cinema'

The victims were mainly young women at the start of their careers, the investigation said.

Depardieu, on the other hand, is one of the highest-grossing actors in the history of French cinema and starred in over 200 movies. He won several awards, including two Césars and one Gloden Globe award. He is known for movies like "The Last Metro" and "Cyrano de Bergerac."

In response to these allegations, the actor refused to comment, his legal team saying that he "denies all charges likely to fall under criminal law."

Most of the victims who came forward in the investigation did not file complaints against Depardieu out of fear that going against the "giant of French cinema" would end their careers. Three of them did submit testimonies to the courts, in support of actress Charlotte Arnaud, the victim at the centre of the 2018 trial on rape charges.

That case was abruptly abandoned by the courts in 2019 for lack of evidence but was reopened in 2020, when Depardieu was indicted, with no custodial measures against him.

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“What's awful is not him but those who let him act,” one of the victims told Mediapart.

Eleven directors and producers who worked with Depardieu said that they had not seen or heard about his misconduct. Apart from them, director Fabien Onteniente recalled the actor repeatedly groping one of the extras on set and then telling the actor to "behave" himself.

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