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A second woman has accused French director Luc Besson of sexual assault, according to reports in the French media.
A 49-year-old casting director has claimed she was assaulted by Besson, whose screen credits include Lucy, Nikita and The Fifth Element, and that the French movie mogul also demanded sexual favors from her on set.
The new claims, first published by French investigative website Mediapart and reported by AFP, follow allegations filed two months again by a young actress who claimed Besson raped her. French police are investigating the rape claim, which Besson’s lawyer Thierry Marembert has publicly denounced as “fantasist accusations.”
The casting director said that she was assaulted by the director “every time I took the lift with him,” and that he also demanded sexual favors from her on set. Two other women told Mediapart that Besson “behaved inappropriately” with them, with one actress claiming she had to escape from a casting in his Paris office on her hands and knees.
In a statement Tuesday to AFP, Besson’s office said the director “categorically denies any type of inappropriate or reprehensible behavior,” adding, “Mr. Besson is reserving his answers for the investigators so that his innocence can be shown.”
Mediapart said that the casting director had written to prosecutors with the fresh allegations. The site also claims that the actress who had made the rape claim has leveled a further allegation against Besson. French prosecutors on Tuesday said publicly they had yet to receive the new complaints.
One of the most powerful figures in the French film industry, Besson is known for his high-octane action films, many of which have become international hits. But his most recent feature, the $180 million Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, was a pricey flop and has put the future of his studio, EuropaCorp, in doubt.
The 27-year-old actress who made the rape claim told police in May she had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Besson and felt pressured into sex to keep her roles in his films.
Besson is by far the most prominent figure in the European film industry to be accused of sexual assault in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Many in the French industry, including the legendary actress Catherine Deneuve, have publicly criticized the movement as puritanical.
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