Gérard Depardieu sexual assault claim dropped due to statute of limitations

<span>Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA</span>
Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

A sexual assault complaint against Gérard Depardieu has been dropped because it was past the statute of limitations, prosecutors in Paris have said.

The complaint, by French actor Hélène Darras, was filed last year but relates to the filming of Disco in 2007, during which Depardieu allegedly groped and propositioned her.

Darras was one of the 13 women who accused Depardieu of sexual misconduct in an investigative story that ran on French investigative website Mediapart in April 2023. She filed her complaint last September, after being interviewed as part of the investigation.

“It took me a year to go from talking about what happened to the criminal complaint,” she said at the time.

“Walking through the door of a police station, telling an officer someone touched your intimate parts, it’s not easy, you need time to think about it,” she added.

But she had “wanted to respond to the defence that plays down our allegations by saying they’re ‘just’ witness accounts”, Darras said.

Depardieu, 75, has been charged with rape in another case and has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women, allegations he denies. In October 2023, he published an open letter in French newspaper Le Figaro defending himself. “Never, ever have I abused a woman,” he wrote.

In an open letter published in conservative-leaning French newspaper Le Figaro last month, 56 French film stars, including Carla Bruni and Charlotte Rampling, defended Depardieu against what they called a public “lynching”.

Neither Darras nor Depardieu’s lawyers were immediately available for comment.

In an interview with broadcaster France 2 for a documentary on Depardieu, Darras had accused him of touching her hips and buttocks and inviting her into his dressing room, continuing even after she refused.

Depardieu was in 2020 charged with rape and sexual assault after another actor, Charlotte Arnould, filed her own complaint over allegations dating to 2018. He has denied all charges; the case is now working its way through the courts.

Arnould’s lawyer has also asked Paris prosecutors to investigate a recording of Depardieu making derogatory comments about women during a filming trip to North Korea, which was later passed to France 2 and broadcast in its documentary.

In a separate case, Spanish journalist and author Ruth Baza said she had filed a criminal complaint in Spain against Depardieu last month, claiming he raped her nearly three decades ago in Paris.

The complaint has little hope of leading to charges due to the statute of limitations in France, but Baza said she decided to go ahead anyway in the hope that it would “help other people” to do the same.

Repeated allegations of sexual violence against Depardieu have become a culture-war frontline in France, dividing the world of cinema and pitting feminist groups against the actor’s defenders – including Emmanuel Macron.

The French president last month said Depardieu should enjoy the presumption of innocence, calling him an “immense actor” who “makes France proud” and saying he was now the victim of a “manhunt”.

Macron more recently conceded that he had not “said enough how important the words of women who are victims of this violence are”.

Agence-France Presse contributed to this report