French actress Judith Godrèche files rape complaint against famed director

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French actress Judith Godrèche has lodged a rape complaint against filmmaker Benoît Jacquot, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

French prosecutors said today that they had opened an inquiry after Godrèche filed a complaint against Jacquot, accusing him of raping her in a relationship that began when she was 14 and he was 39.

Godrèche, 51, accuses Jacquot, 77, of “predation” and “violent rape of a minor under 15 years old committed by a person in authority.”

“The Paris prosecutor’s office has entrusted the investigation to the Juvenile Protection Brigade,” a spokesperson told Variety. “The investigation concerns the offenses of rape of a minor under 15 years old committed by a person in authority, rape, violence by a partner and sexual assault of a minor over 15 years old by a person in authority. The offences were alleged to have taken place between 1986 and 1992.”

The crime is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment, though the statute of limitations has “probably” expired in the case, Le Monde said.

Jacquot, one of France’s most prominent directors, whose 2013 film Les Adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen) won three César awards (the French equivalent of an Oscar), has denied the accusations in comments to the Le Monde newspaper. He told the outlet that their relationship was a “loving” one.

Benoît Jacquot

Godrèche and Jacquot met in 1986 on the set of his movie Les Mendiants, which was released two years later.

Despite the 25 year age gap, they began a relationship which went on for six years, during which time the actress says she was “in (Jacquot’s) grip.” She also starred in his 1990 film La Désenchantée (The Disenchanted).

“It’s a story like the stories of children who are kidnapped and who grow up without seeing the world and who cannot think ill of their captor,” Godrèche wrote ahead of a hearing, Le Monde reported.

“I would have liked Benoît to agree to be my friend, to not have me, I didn’t want his body. Very quickly, he disgusted me.”

Le Monde reported that Jacquot also forbade her to use any contraception and grew especially violent towards the end of their relationship.

Judith Godrèche

Godrèche, who has appeared in more than 50 films, including The Man in the Iron Mask opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, told the newspaper: “It’s the first time in my entire life that I cried for myself, for this abused child that I was.”

The actress was among those in 2017 to speak out against US movie producer Harvey Weinstein at the height of the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo has picked up some momentum in France and is forcing fresh debate about sexual violence in French cinema.

The controversy surrounding French actor Gérard Depardieu continues to shake up the world of French culture, with newly released footage of Depardieu making obscene comments sparking an uproar. President Emmanuel Macron said the actor had become the target of a “manhunt” – something which has also sparked heated debate.

Last month, a French court dismissed a sexual assault claim against embattled actor, stating that the statute of limitations had passed.

The charges were filed by actress Hélène Darras last September, and are linked to an incident that allegedly took place in 2007, when Darras and Depardieu were shooting the film Disco. Darras was 26 at the time and an extra on the film.

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