French police have launched a preliminary probe into a rape complaint against actor Gerard Depardieu. The 69-year-old film star was "stunned" by the complaint, his lawyer said.
French-born actor Gerard Depardieu "utterly denies any sexual assault, any rape, any criminal conduct," his lawyer Herve Temime told the French BFM broadcaster on Thursday, following reports that a 22-year-old woman had filed a complaint against the performer.
The 69-year-old Depardieu was "stunned by the lodging of this complaint," Temime added.
Depardieu is one of France's best known actors and one of its most recognizable faces abroad. He gained international fame in the 1990s, including his roles in Ridley Scott's "1492: Conquest of Paradise," and Randall Wallace's "The Man in the Iron Mask" where he played alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, and John Malkovich. He is also known in Europe as the comic-book hero Obelix in Asterix & Obelix live action films.
In 2013, he faced criticism in his home country for taking Russian citizenshipafter France passed a tax hike on the wealthy.
The latest rape inquiry comes at the heels of the MeToo movement that saw many high-profile figures in show business accused of predatory behavior, rape, and sexual assault.
According to unnamed judicial sources, the 22-year-old dancer and actress claims Depardieu assaulted her on August 7 and August 13 at his home in Paris. She filed her complaint in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence, prompting the police to look into the incident.
"I regret the public nature of this process which poses a major prejudice to Gerard Depardieu, whose innocence I am convinced will be recognized," Temime said on Thursday.
dj/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)