UPDATE, 11:28 AM: Luc Besson looks to be one step closer to seeing the rape claims against him dismissed.
The public prosecutor’s office in Paris has today requested Judge Marie-Claire Noiriel to toss out the three-year old case against the Lucy director by actress Sand Van Roy “At the end of the judicial investigation, it should be noted that the hearings and expert opinions of the civil party; the interrogation of Luc Besson, the investigations on rogatory commission did not make it possible to further characterize the elements constituting the offense of rape,” prosecutor Lecaroz Anne-Claire said in documents filed this week. “Whereas it does not appear from the information that there are sufficient charges against anyone for having committed the facts of rape on the person of Sandrine Van Roy.”
This request obviously was met with a good response among Besson’s reps.
“The Paris prosecutor’s request once again recognizes Luc Besson’s innocence and is consistent with the position already expressed by the investigators, by the Prosecutor’s Office itself and by the investigating judge,” Besson’s lawyer Thierry Marembert said to Deadline Friday.
Under the procedures of French law, this does not officially end the matter for the EuropaCorp co-founder. The judge could make the unlikely call to not dismiss the case, but that is rare — especially follow Judge Noiriel’s decision in January to dial down the case significantly.
A decision either way is expected before the end of the year.
PREVIOUSLY, JAN 25 AM: A French judge has spared Luc Besson further charges for now in allegations of rape brought against the director by actress Sand Van Roy
The decision today follows a closed hearing in Paris before an examining magistrate that end just hours ago. Lasting a total of five hours, the hearing before examining magistrate Marie-Claire Noiriel was with just the Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets director and his lawyer Thierry Marembert. Walking out of the Paris courthouse with no indictment against him, the EuropaCorp founder has been declared an “assisted witness.”
Under French law, an “assisted witness” is roughly defined as an individual who is not under formal investigation and indictment, but could still be implicated by evidence to be guilty of the offense they are alleged to have committed. Which means there could be more to come for Besson.
Yet, at the same time, today’s decision appears to be the best possible outcome for Besson right now.
“After several hours of questioning on Monday, the Judge immediately ruled that Luc Besson is only an ‘assisted witness’ and is not under ‘formal investigation’ in the matter, EuropaCorp’s USA attorney Michael Kump told Deadline. “The Judge will issue a notice shortly,” he added, in what is expected to be about another 90 days before the formal notice is made public.
“This hearing in Paris is part of ongoing judicial proceedings that began with an investigation by the police and public prosecutor, and has found that no criminal acts had been committed,” Kump also noted. “Mr. Besson continues to fully cooperate with the authorities and to deny all accusations made against him, and he looks forward to clearing his name.”
Back in February 2019, French prosecutors dropped their initial probe of Van Roy’s sexual assault claims against the much accused Besson. The investigation was shuttered at the time because of insufficient evidence, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Van Roy alleged in 2018 she had been raped multiple times by Besson, director of Valerian, Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element. In response, Besson had called Van Roy’s claims “fantasist accusations.” The actress had small roles in Besson’s Taxi 5 and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. After Van Roy’s complaint, eight other women came forward with accusations against Besson too.
In October 2019, a judge ordered the latest investigation after new charges against Besson were raised in the Van Roy matter.
Amidst the investigations and another case involving the unlawful axing of Besson’s longtime assistant, Axel Duroux was been named CEO of EuropaCorp last August. As the troubled French film giant reeled from the scandals and less than stellar box office performance, Besson was shuffled in the summer to the newly-formed role of non-executive chairman with Artistic Director duties.
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