Actor Gerard Depardieu, 72, breaks his silence after being charged with rape and says 'I am innocent'
FRENCH actor Gérard Depardieu today spoke for the first time about being charged with raping and sexual abusing a young actress, saying: ‘I am innocent’.
The 72-year-old film star broke his silence on Thursday after Paris prosecutors confirmed he faced trial and prison for the attacks allegedly carried out at his £45million mansion in 2018.
"There is no proof, there is nothing against me and therefore I am very serene," Depardieu said in an interview in Italy’s La Repubblica.
"I can only reject all the accusations as clearly as possible, as I’ve already done in front of the investigators."
Depardieu noted that the accusations made by the 22-year-old complainant, who cannot be named because of legal reasons, were originally thrown out by examining magistrates following nine months of enquiries.
He said: "For me, the investigation was closed for lack of evidence. In court, I will reaffirm my innocence. I am innocent and I have nothing to fear."
The actor, who is free without any bail conditions, said his next meeting with judges was on March 10.
Depardieu said he had "a feeling of sadness and perplexity in front of a completely unfounded story, and by all the media hype generated by an investigation that I considered as closed".
Depardieu is one of numerous powerful men in the Paris arts establishment who have been accused of abuse following the creation of the #MeToo movement which encourages women to make their complaints about sex attacks public.
But Depardieu lashed out at such media coverage, denouncing "an era dominated by a continuous and ruthless flow of information pouring out online".
He said: "It’s like we’re living with headphones all the time that broadcast bad news and often false or biased information. I hate it all."
Depardieu, who made his name in Hollywood hits such as Green Card, is currently working on the set of a new police drama in Paris.
He was pictured and videoed on the banks of the River Seine last Friday, as he shot a scene from ‘Maigret And The Dead Girl’ with co-star Jade Labeste, 25.
French media has reported that there is CCTV footage of Depardieu performing a sex act on his alleged victim in August 2018, but the actor says their relationship was consensual, and vehemently denies any wrongdoing.
In turn, the complainant has told police she was attacks after visiting him as a family friend, and receiving advice about her career.
Dépardieu, a divorced father-of-four, spends a lot of time in Italy with his long-term partner, the wine entrepreneur and novelist, Clémentine Igou.
Other big names in French cinema accused of rape in recent months include the director Luc Besson, whose films include Nikita and The Fifth Element.
Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, one of France’s best known TV presenters, was this month accused of rape.
Georges Tron, France’s former Secretary of State, last week began serving three years in prison after a court found him guilty of raping an employee in his office and at the home of a co-defendant.
Gérald Darmanin, France’s current Interior Minister, is also at the centre of a rape enquiry.
Such scandals have led to demonstrations by women’s groups at high-profile showbusiness events, as they call for women actors to stop working with allegedly abusive men.
On Wednesday, Dépardieu’s lawyer, Hervé Temime said: "I’m convinced that at the end of this investigation, Gérard Depardieu will be exonerated of all guilt.
"If there is a case where the presumption of innocence has more meaning than ever, it is this one."
Mr Temime said his client was now free on bail, and was "sorry that this information [about the case] has been made public".
The complainant's lawyer, Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon, said that she hoped her client's "private sphere will be respected" as the case unfolds.
In 2013 Dépardieu was pictured hugging Vladimir Putin after being handed his Russian passport.
He left France to avoid a new 75 per cent tax rate for earnings over £813,000 per year.
Putin said Depardieu would be welcome in his country — which has a 13 per cent flat rate.
He was one of the top showbiz names who faced sexual harassment and assault claims as part of the #MeToo movement.
French-born Depardieu, who has made more than 180 films, was nominated for an Oscar for his title role in 1990’s Cyrano de Bergerac and won a Golden Globe best comedy actor award in 1991 for box office hit Green Card. But he has had a chequered past off-screen.
He spent time in prison for car theft during his childhood, then in 2011 he urinated in a bottle on a flight from Paris to Dublin.
The next year he was accused of punching a motorist in Paris, then was arrested for drunk driving after falling off his scooter.
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