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Actor Gerard Depardieu to face criminal trial over alleged sexual assault in France, prosecutors say

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Paris — French actor Gérard Depardieu will face a criminal trial in October over the alleged sexual assaults in 2021 of two women on the set of a film, prosecutors announced Monday.

The 75-year-old actor, who previously has denied any wrongdoing, was detained for questioning by police in Paris for several hours earlier Monday. His lawyer, Christian Saint-Palais, later declined to comment to reporters other than to say that the actor was no longer in custody.

The Paris public prosecutor's office said in a statement that the actor has been "summoned to appear before the criminal court" after the questioning.

FILE PHOTO: Gerard Depardieu waves as he arrives during a red carpet event for the movie "Novecento- Atto Primo" at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice
Actor Gerard Depardieu waves as he arrives during a red carpet event for the movie "Novecento- Atto Primo," at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sept. 5, 2017. Alessandro Bianchi/REUTERS

A trial will start in October "for sexual assaults likely to have been committed in September 2021" against "two victims, on the set of the film 'The Green Shutters,'" the statement said. It did not name the alleged victims.

French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that a 53-year-old movie decorator has alleged that Depardieu grabbed her and kneaded her waist, stomach and breasts during filming for "Les Volets verts," or "The Green Shutters," according to the woman's lawyer, Carine Durrieu Diebolt, when she filed the complaint to the Paris prosecutor's office in February.

In an open letter last October, Depardieu said: "I have never, ever abused a woman."

Depardieu has also been accused by more than a dozen other women of harassing, groping or sexually assaulting them. He was handed preliminary rape and sexual assault charges in 2020 following allegations from actor Charlotte Arnould.

In that case, the investigating judge completed his probe on April 17 and transferred the file to the Paris public prosecutor's office "to review and determine next steps in the proceeding," the prosecutor's office said Monday.

Depardieu was long seen as a national icon in France. He has been a global ambassador for French film and enjoyed international fame with several roles in Hollywood.

The latest episode involving Depardieu came as French cinema is roiled by a #metoo awakening following actor Judith Godrèche's call for France's film industry to "face the truth" on sexual violence and physical abuse. She made that appeal during a live broadcast in February of the Cesar Awards ceremony, France's version of the Oscars.

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