French actor Judith Godreche, 51, has filed a sexual assault complaint against well-known film director Benoit Jacquot, nearly 37 years after being in relationship with him.
Godreche who has acted with Leonardo DiCaprio in movie The Man in the Iron Mask, has alleged that she was raped by Jacquoit, when they were in a relationship that started when she was 14 and he was 25 years her senior, her attorney said on Wednesday.
According to her lawyer, Laure Heinich, the actress filed a formal complaint with the Juvenile Protection Brigade (BPM) of police, accusing Jacquot of suspected rape of a minor by a person in a position of authority. Although this crime carries a penalty of up to 20 years' imprisonment, the statute of limitations may have expired in this case, according to a Le Monde report.
Jacquot, a prominent figure in French cinema with a career spanning five decades, has refuted the accusations in statements to Le Monde, which also featured an interview with Godreche.
This development unfolds against the backdrop of mounting allegations within French cinema regarding the longstanding tolerance of sexism and sexual misconduct.
Godreche had previously spoken about her accusations against Jacquot on social media in January, claiming he manipulated her into a relationship when she was a vulnerable underage actor, exploiting the arts as a pretext for abuse.
Their relationship reportedly began in the spring of 1986 when Godreche was 14 years old, lasting until the early 1990s. During this time, she starred in two films directed by Jacquot: "Les Mendiants" ("The Beggars") in 1988 and "La Desenchantee" ("The Disenchanted") in 1990.
Godreche's decision to speak out was reportedly prompted by her discovery of Jacquot boasting about their relationship being a "transgression" and cinema serving as a "cover" for it in a 2011 documentary.
In her statement to the Juvenile Protection Brigade, Godreche stressed on the absence of consent at the age of 14, claiming, "Consent does not exist when you're 14."
Jacquot, known for his work with acclaimed actors such as Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert, as well as with younger actresses including Godreche, Virginie Ledoyen, and Isild Le Besco, has previously said that he needs to be "in love" with his actresses to film them.
According to Godreche's account provided to Le Monde, Jacquot first engaged in sexual activity with her without any tenderness, followed by instances of sadomasochistic sexual games and forbidding her from using contraception. The situation reportedly escalated to violence toward the end of their relationship.
Jacquot, however, has described his relationship with Godreche as genuine affection, saying to Le Monde that he was "very much in love" with her and crediting her with pulling him out of a period of personal darkness.
Amid the ongoing dialogue surrounding sexism and sexual violence in French cinema, Godreche's complaint against Jacquot adds to the broader conversation sparked by movements like #MeToo, which have prompted increased scrutiny of power dynamics and abusive behavior within the industry.