French director Christophe Ruggia charged in underage sex assault case

PARIS (AFP) – French filmmaker Christophe Ruggia was charged on Thursday (Jan 16) over accusations that he sexually assaulted actress Adele Haenel when she was a minor, the Paris prosecutor said.

The 55-year-old was charged with sexual assault of a minor “by a person with authority over the victim,” the prosecutor’s office said after Ruggia was detained for two days of questioning.

Adele Haenel, 31, lodged a formal complaint against Ruggia in November after accusing him in an interview of sexually harassing her when she was between the ages of 12 and 15.

She accused Ruggia, who directed her in the 2002 movie The Devils, her first film role, of repeatedly touching and kissing her.

Ruggia at first fiercely denied harassing Haenel on the set of the 2002 movie before asking her to forgive him.

He then said that she was targeting him because he denied her a part in another film.

Haenel’s accusations stunned the French film industry, which has been slower than Hollywood to react to the #MeToo movement that has turned the spotlight on sexual abuse in the sector.

But she won support from some of the top names of French cinema including the actress Marion Cotillard, who hailed Haenel for “breaking a silence that was so heavy”.

Ruggia has been placed under judicial supervision pending the investigation, and is barred from meeting Haenel, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

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