56 French stars defend actor Gerard Depardieu despite sexual misconduct allegations

PARIS (AP) — More than 50 French artists, writers and producers published an essay Tuesday defending movie star and national icon Gerard Depardieu amid growing scrutiny of him. behavior towards women During his career spanning five decades. Advocates for sexual abuse victims expressed disappointment at the widespread outpouring of support.

Depardieu was assigned the preliminary round Allegations of rape and sexual harassment In 2020, it followed allegations by actor Charlotte Arnold, and more than a dozen other women, that he harassed, groped, or sexually harassed her. Depardieu denied wrongdoing, and called the essay "beautiful".

Published on Tuesday in the conservative-leaning Le Figaro, it was signed by a number of celebrities, including former first lady and singer Carla Bruni, Depardieu's former partner Carole Bousquet, and actors Pierre Richard, Charlotte Rampling and Victoria Abril. Of the 56 signatories, two dozen were women. Many are from Depardieu's generation; He is 74 years old.

A recent documentary outlines allegations of sexual misconduct by 16 women against Depardieu, and shows the actor making obscene comments and gestures during a visit to North Korea in 2018. The France-2 documentary led some to call for an end to the broadcast of Depardieu's films, which include classics of modern French cinema.

In response, Tuesday's essay says: ''We cannot remain silent in the face of the lynching that is being targeted at him, the torrent of hatred being directed at his personality.

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"When Gérard Depardieu is targeted in this way, it is the art (of cinema) that is being attacked," it said. "France is very grateful to him." ...To deprive ourselves of this huge actor would be a drama, a defeat. Death of art. “Our art.”

Paris lawmaker and feminist Raphaël Remy-Leleu said the signatories were experiencing a "denial of reality." She said she wished they had supported initiatives against sexual violence instead.

"They are refusing to look at what this man did... because he is an artist," he told broadcaster France-Info.

Emmanuelle Dancourt, whose #MeTooMedia group supports sexual abuse victims in the media industry, said on BFM television that the message of the essay is particularly painful for victims of sexual abuse by powerful men.

French President Emmanuel Macron also got angry When he said last week that Depardieu "makes France proud."

The recent documentary includes a segment where Depardieu is heard making lewd sexual comments about a young girl riding on a horse. Macron suggested that the section may have been edited in a misleading manner. France Télévisions, which broadcast the documentary, later said that the segment in question had been certified by a bailiff who had seen the raw footage.

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