A young actress has lodged a complaint for rape against French film director Luc Besson, judicial sources said on Saturday, the latest in a string of sexual abuse allegations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The filmmaker’s lawyer Thierry Marembert said he categorically denied the claims calling them “fantasist accusations”, adding that the complainant was someone he knew “towards whom he has never behaved inappropriately”. Police in Paris opened an investigation after the actress accused the 59-year-old “The Big Blue”, “Nikita” and “Leon” director of raping her, the judicial sources said. A “complaint has been made for acts qualifying as rape by the plaintiff which happened Thursday night into Friday in Paris,” they said, adding that police were investigating. News of the allegation emerged shortly before the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival which was marked this year by an emotional speech by a Weinstein accuser.
Italian star Asia Argento, who has said she was raped by the Hollywood mogul at Cannes in 1997, told the ceremony he would never be welcome at the event again. “This festival was his hunting ground,” said Argento, who says she was 21 when Weinstein attacked her in his hotel room. Sources said Besson’s accuser went to police on Friday to file a complaint against Besson after the alleged assault at the Bristol hotel in the French capital.
The complainant said she had been in a relationship with him for around two years, stating she felt pressured into being intimate with him for professional reasons. One source close to the investigation said Besson was out of the country and had not been questioned. According to Europe 1 radio, which broke the story, Besson’s accuser said she had “drunk a cup of tea, then felt unwell and lost consciousness”.
The station quoted her as saying that when she came round she remembered being sexually assaulted. Giant of French cinema Besson, who is married to a film producer, has three children with his wife and two more from previous relationships. He has been married four times, including to US actress Milla Jovovich.