Academy Award-nominated French actor Gérard Depardieu accused of sexual assault

Gérard Depardieu

"The Paris public prosecutor's office is making a preliminary investigation on counts of rape and sexual assault", the spokesman said.

In the meantime, Depardieu and his legal team have released a statement denying the accusations against him.

French actor Gerard Depardieu was accused of sexual harassment and rape by an actress in her 20s.

The actress filed a formal complaint with French police on Monday, alleging she was sexually assaulted by Depardieu, a 69-year-old icon in the French film industry, according to French radio.

The actress was "devastated" by the alleged attacks, her agent was quoted as saying by French digital news service BFMTV. "The case was passed on to the Paris prosecutor", the source told Reuters.

"I have strong elements to show that no offense took place", Temime said, adding that the offense was "the opposite" of Depardieu's personality.

A lawyer for Depardieu dismissed the accusations. Jeremy Piven, Dustin Hoffman, and Morgan Freeman have also found themselves at the centre of misconduct claims in Hollywood's #MeToo anti-harassment era, while Kevin Spacey and Italian actress Asia Argento are now under investigation amid accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour. He has agreed to cooperate with the investigation, according to his lawyer.

Mr Depardieu is one of France's most recognisable actors, and has starred in films such as Cyrano de Bergerac and Jean de Florette.

In recent years, the outspoken actor has drawn Western criticism for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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