Actress Adele Haenel accuses director of sexual harassment as #metoo hits French cinema

French actress Adele Haenel has accused a director of sexually harassing her when she was a teenager working on her first feature film.

Haenel, now 30, claimed in an interview with French media outlet Mediapart on Monday that she had been the target of “permanent sexual harassment” from director Christophe Ruggia when the two worked together on her debut movie, The Devils, when she was 12 to 15.

She said he forcefully kissed her on the neck and would repeatedly touched her on the thighs and torso.

The actress, who has won two César Awards — the French equivalent of the Oscars — added that she would not make a formal complaint to the police but that she had decided to come forward when she had learnt that Ruggia was planning a new movie with teenagers.

She accused the French judiciary system of not being severe enough on sexual abusers.

Ruggia, 54, said in a statement that he “categorically refuted” any alleged wrongdoing.

The French Society of Directors has offered its support to the actress and expressed its “admiration and recognition” in a statement issued on Monday. It has also expelled Ruggia.

Asked about the affair on Wednesday, the French Minister for Justice Nicole Belloubet, said that Haenel was wrong to discredit the system and urged her to file a complaint.

The Paris Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into sexual assault on a minor under 15.

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