Following accusations made by French actress Adele Haenel against director Christophe Ruggia, the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary investigation into “sexual aggression of a minor by a person of authority.” Haenel in her initial allegations said she would not pursue legal action. Rather, the case has been opened by authorities themselves, according to reports. This morning, the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, told France Inter radio it would be advisable for Haenel to go to court.
In an extensive Mediapart piece published this weekend, Portrait Of A Lady star Haenel claimed Ruggia began harassing her after she was cast in his 2002 drama The Devils. She said that advances took place on numerous occasions and continued until she was 15.
Ruggia said in a statement on Sunday that he “categorically refutes” any misconduct and that he and Haenel had a “professional and affectionate relationship.” On Monday, he was expelled from French directors’ guild the SRF.
In a separate Mediapart piece that surfaced today, Ruggia responded to the accusations, asserting that he “never made the physical gestures or (demonstrated) the sexual harassment behavior that she accuses me of… I made the mistake of playing Pygmalion with the misunderstandings and obstacles that such a situation can bring.”
Ruggia says he had “boundless admiration” for Haenel’s talent and writes of a “relationship that united us around our common love of cinema” and which lasted several years.
At the time, he continues, “I did not see that my adulation and the hopes that I had for her could have appeared, given her young age, as painful at certain times. If that is the case and if she can, I ask her to forgive me.”
Ruggia further adds, “I am well aware of the lack of weight my words will have… My social exclusion is in progress and I can’t do anything to avoid it.”