In May, Taxi 5 actress Sand Van Roy filed a formal rape complaint against Luc Besson, saying she had been abused at the Bristol Hotel near the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Besson “categorically” denied the allegations via his attorney at the time. Van Roy has now reportedly filed a second complaint, sharing details of both with French online news outlet Mediapart. The site says it has also spoken to other women who alleged inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of the filmmaker, including a former casting director who is said to have written to the Public Prosecutor of Paris to detail her claims.
Mediapart says it conducted a months-long investigation into allegations and the work culture on Besson’s sets and at his EuropaCorp. Shares in the ailing studio fell 5.5% in morning trading today, “penalized by the revelations,” according to Le Boursier.
The former casting director wrote to the Public Prosecutor to “relate that of which I was both a witness and a victim,” the Mediapart report says. In the letter, which was shown to the site, the unnamed woman wrote, “It seems important for me today to express myself to you… hoping that others will also do so and that Mr Luc Besson can no longer adopt such behavior with anyone and in particular with the very young girls with whom he is in contact.”
She alleges Besson would “come close to my back frequently when I was coaching actors and kiss me on the neck. Other times he forced me to sit on his knee. He established an ever-greater physical closeness which made me very ill at ease.” She further alleges that one day at a rehearsal “Luc Besson again slid up behind me and openly in front of everyone grabbed me by my breasts. I then violently pushed him back with my elbows.”
The woman claims Besson “frequently” asked “in the presence of a technician, to give him fellatio, which I refused without fail.” She further recounts, “Once he accompanied this demand with putting pressure on my head, making the gesture of pushing it towards his penis. He took me on his knee quite often. Each time we took the lift together he forcibly kissed me, putting his tongue in my mouth, and although I pushed him back he’d take me in his arms and touch my breasts and bottom.”
The casting director also describes a 2004 episode in which she says Besson “pressed” her “against the soundproof wall. I realized that no one could hear me if I ended up shouting. Luc Besson rubbed himself against me, touched my breasts and put his tongue in my mouth. To get out of that situation I told him that a model was waiting at reception.”
Prosecutors will now make a determination as to whether they speak to the woman in the context of the investigation opened after Van Roy’s complaint. Van Roy had earlier said she blacked out during the alleged Bristol Hotel events, but a toxicology report found no drugs ingested.
A EuropaCorp spokesperson tells Deadline, “We have no comment beyond the fact that EuropaCorp states its support and confidence in Luc Besson.” Deadline has also requested comment from Besson’s attorney Thierry Marembert; the Public Prosecutor’s office could not be reached.
A former EuropaCorp employee, who also remained anonymous, told Mediapart that Besson kissed her on the mouth, put his hand on her backside and made a sexual proposition. “He hears when you say ‘no’ but it doesn’t last because he will start again. Each time he tries to go to a new level.”
Another former employee, a man, told Mediapart they had witnessed such behavior as described by the former colleague but that many didn’t identify it as problematic. “Luc Besson passed that off with the family atmosphere that was present… This atmosphere fooled just about everybody, because in the end we were all the same in a company, with a boss who made an employee sit on his knees.”
The outlet says it has seen the formal rape complaint made against Besson by Van Roy on May 18. She has been twice interviewed by the police and on July 6 lodged a new formal complaint “in relation to other acts mentioned in her previous interviews,” Mediapart reports.
The actress has told police that between March 2016 and May 2018 she endured unwanted and “violent” sexual relations that sometimes went “as far as drawing blood” in order to avoid, she says, being “blacklisted” or “cut during editing.”
Van Roy told Mediapart that she had an occasional “relationship” with Besson over the course of two years. “I was living in a state of confusion. I said to him what he wanted to hear, out of fear of reprisals,” the actress reportedly said.
A few hours before Van Roy went to meet Besson at the Bristol, she, according to the Mediapart account, left a friend the following voice message: “If I don’t go, he’s gonna be so mad, and I’m gonna have to pay for it, and I’m gonna regret it… He has conditioned me to behave in a certain way.” On WhatsApp she wrote in English, “I don’t know how I’m gonna have sex with him if I don’t drink myself to the point where I no longer feel pain,” A few hours earlier she had messaged Besson with a heart symbol, the news site reported.
Besson on November 29 last year is said to have sent Van Roy a video message in which he opens a box that contains a fake version of the actress’ bloody head which had been made for one of his movies. While it may have seemed a joke, an observer told Mediapart, Van Roy believed the video was a response to the threats she had made a few weeks prior that she would go to the police.
Besson’s attorney Marembert told RTL radio in May that Besson “fell off his chair” when he heard about Van Roy’s initial accusations and that he “categorically denies any inappropriate and reprehensible behavior of any kind” and “has never raped either her or anyone else.”