Lifestyle

Second actress accuses French director Benoit Jacquot of abuse

PARIS – A second French actress accused film director Benoit Jacquot on Feb 22 of having had a “destructive hold” over her during a relationship that started when she was 16 and he was 52, after another filed a legal case alleging he raped her as a minor.

Isild Le Besco, 41, said that their relationship included “a destructive hold, a loss of self… and especially psychological violence.

“For example, he would always tell me I was fat. There was physical violence, sometimes, in anger,” Le Besco told Le Parisien newspaper.

Her lawyer, Benjamin Chouai, told AFP she was thinking about filing a legal complaint.

Le Besco, who acted in Jacquot’s 2000 film Sade about the notorious Marquis de Sade when she was 16, said the relationship marked her.

“Afterwards, I experienced things that were even worse with other men because I was ready to squash myself for someone,” she said, without elaborating.

Earlier in February, she told Le Monde newspaper that her time with Jacquot had included “psychological and physical violence”. Jacquot, now 77, rejected the allegations.

Le Besco spoke up after actress Judith Godreche, 51, earlier in February filed a legal complaint accusing the prominent arthouse director of raping her in a relationship that began when she was 14 and he 25 years her senior.

She has accused Jacquot of manipulating her into a relationship when she was a vulnerable child, playing sadomasochistic sexual games and controlling her life down to what she ate and the length of her hair. Jacquot has also rejected those accusations.

Godreche is to speak at a French Senate hearing next week.

“Hearing her testimony is important,” said senator Dominique Verien, who heads a women’s rights delegation in the Senate.

We are “working to ensure the situations of violence against a minor that she describes stop happening and are punished,” she said.

‘Men’s fantasies’

Le Besco said speaking publicly about a past relationship was “painful”, but she had been inspired by “other women speaking up”.

“The more we speak up, the more violence… will be perceived as such, the more abuses will be called out and can stop,” she said.

Her comments come as French cinema is rocked by accusations it has shrugged off sexism and sexual abuse for decades.

At the centre of the storm are allegations against 75-year-old film icon Gerard Depardieu, who has been charged with rape, and faces more than a dozen other accusations of assault or harassment.

The actor “firmly rejects all accusations against him”, his lawyer has said.

President Emmanuel Macron caused an outcry when he defended the “immense actor” as innocent until proven guilty and inferred he was the victim of a “manhunt”. He later added that he should have said how important it was for women to speak up.

Le Besco said she hoped society would “give more credit to women who denounce” abuse.

The film sector needed to change too, she said.

Despite encouraging signs, “cinema continues to be based on men’s fantasies… for young frail and fragile girls that they can use at will – caricatures of women,” she added.

“Film professionals… have a role to play in maintaining the status quo… or starting a revolution. Today people need to choose a side.” AFP



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