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French director Luc Besson’s rape case dismissed after judicial probe

A rape claim against Luc Besson, director of 'The Fifth Element' and 'Lucy', has been dismissed by a Paris judge following judicial investigation.

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A rape claim against Luc Besson, the French director of ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Lucy’, has been dismissed by a Paris judge following a lengthy judicial investigation. A source close to the public prosecutor’s office in Paris confirmed to Variety that the case, which stemmed from two police complaints filed in May and July 2018 by Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy accusing Besson of raping her, has been dismissed.

The judicial investigation included hearings with witnesses, including Besson’s former wife, the actor-director Mai-wenn, with whom he has a daughter; and his former partner Anne Parillaud, an actor with whom he has two children. It also included expert opinions of the civil party and an interrogation of Besson.

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The judge made the final decision to dismiss the case based on the prosecutor’s recommendation.

Besson’s lawyer, Thierry Marembert, said: “After a procedure that lasted three and a half years through which many witnesses were questioned and during which a crossed interrogation of Besson and Van Roy took place, the judge had decided to finally dismiss this case against Luc Besson who has been denying these accusations from the start.

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“The Paris prosecutor previously said the investigations show that the criminal acts of rape were not committed, that the absence of consent has not been demonstrated and that the presence of a constraint, threat and violence had not been characterized.”

A source close to Besson told Variety that “it’s been three years that Luc Besson has been fighting against these false allegations. He hopes that after having his presumption of innocence disregarded, his innocence will be respected. He now intends on dedicating himself to moviemaking”.

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Besson’s latest movie, ‘Anna’, which is also the last film produced by his company EuropaCorp, came out in 2019.

The Paris prosecutor had dismissed rape allegations against Besson in February 2019 citing a lack of evidence after a nine-month preliminary investigation following initial accusations by Van Roy in 2018.

Thursday’s decision follows a civil complaint that Van Roy’s lawyer, Francis Szpiner, filed a month after the February 2019 dismissal.

Szpiner argued that the preliminary investigation conducted between May 2018 and February 2019 by the Paris prosecutor had been rushed and incomplete. A new independent judge was then appointed, reopened the case and reviewed all the elements of the prosecutor’s investigation.

Van Roy wrote on her Twitter account that she is “suing the judge Marie-Claire Noiriel for forgery”.

She said she never met Noiriel throughout the process.

Szpiner, meanwhile, said on Franceinfo radio station that her client will appeal the decision and described the judge as “Besson’s best lawyer”.

The actress, who had a small part in ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’, alleged that she and Besson had an abusive affair that began on the shoot of ‘Valerian’ and culminated in a rape on the night of May 17, 2018, at the Bristol Hotel in Paris.

She then filed a second complaint on July 6, 2018, accusing Besson of repeated violent sexual relations between March 2016 and May 2018.

Besides Van Roy, eight other women, two former assistants, two casting directors, two students, an actress and a former model who aspired to become an actress, Karine Isambert, came forward to French investigative magazine Mediapart with allegations of sexual misconduct by Besson.

But only Van Roy filed a police complaint.

EuropaCorp, which was already struggling financially before the rape allegations, finalised a restructuring deal with New York-based Vine Alternative Investments in February 2020.

Vine gave EuropaCorp a new credit line of $100 million to allow it to develop a slate of films and start producing again.

Even if his latest movies, ‘Valerian’ and ‘Anna’ under-performed, Besson is known for delivering some of the highest-grossing indie films of the last 30 years, including English-language global hits such as ‘The Professional’ with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman, ‘The Fifth Element’ starring Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis, and ‘Lucy’ with Scarlett Johansson.

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