Justice refuses to drop rape charge against French actor Gérard Depardieu

A Paris court on Thursday rejected an offer by Gerard Depardieu to have rape charges against him dropped, the attorney general said in the case, raising the prospect of a trial for the iconic French actor.

Depardieu, 73, was accused of raping and sexually assaulting a young French actress at her home in Paris in 2018, a charge he called “baseless”.

But Paris chief prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement that there was “serious and confirmed evidence that justifies Gérard Depardieu remaining charged” in the case brought by actress Charlotte Arnould.

The case will now go back to the prosecutor who is to resume working on the case, Heitz said.

Arnould, who was present at the courthouse, declined to comment on the decision, but his lawyer, Carine Durrieu-Diebolt, told AFP that his client was “relieved”.

Depardieu’s lawyer, Hervé Temime, declined to comment.

Arnould filed a complaint in the summer of 2018, when she was 22, claiming she had been raped twice by Depardieu at his posh Left Bank mansion in the French capital a few days earlier.

Prosecutors dropped the case in June 2019, citing lack of evidence, but it was reopened the following year after Arnould filed a new complaint.

‘Trying to survive’

The actor was charged in December 2020 but not imprisoned or even placed under judicial supervision.

A year later, Arnould revealed his identity on Twitter, saying: “I am Depardieu’s victim. He was charged a year ago. He works, while all I do is try to survive.

Depardieu is a family friend of Arnould and has known her since she was a child.

In 1991, Time magazine asked Depardieu about a 1978 interview in Film Comment magazine in which he described his difficult childhood and was quoted as saying “I had many rapes, too many to count”.

When asked if he participated in the rapes, he told Time that yes. “But that was completely normal back then,” the actor said.

Depardieu later denied making the remarks and threatened to sue the magazine, but Time refused to remove the passage, saying the interview was taped.

Depardieu became a star in France from the 1980s with roles in ‘Le Dernier Métro’, ‘Police’ and ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, before Peter Weir’s ‘Green Card’ also made him a Hollywood star.

He then starred in global productions including Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet”, Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” and the Netflix series “Marseille”.

Depardieu is currently starring in two films screened in French cinemas. In one, he plays the role of Maigret, the fictional police detective created by writer Georges Simenon, who investigates the murder of a young girl.

In the other, “Robust,” he plays an aging, jaded actor who strikes up a relationship with a young female security guard.

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