Director Luc Besson cleared of rape charges following judicial investigation

luc besson rape charges dismissed
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A French judge has dismissed a rape claim made against director Luc Besson, according to multiple news reports, following a judicial investigation into a case brought forward by an actress he’d worked with on a 2017 film.

Besson, best known for his directing work on films such as The Fifth Element and Lucy, was accused of rape by actress Sand Van Roy. In 2018, Van Roy filed two complaints with police accusing Besson of rape.

Variety‘s account of the case cited “a source close to the public prosecutor’s office in Paris” in its reporting, noting that it “stemmed from two police complaints filed in May and July 2018 by Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy accusing Besson of raping her.” The report added,

The judicial investigation included hearings with witnesses, including Besson’s former wife, the actor-director Maïwenn, with whom he has a daughter; and his former partner Anne Parillaud, an actor with whom he has two children. It also included expert opinions of the civil party and an interrogation of Besson. The judge made the final decision to dismiss the case based on the prosecutor’s recommendation.

This is the second time the charges have been dismissed. They were originally dismissed in 2019 after a nine-month investigation. However, the case was reopened when Van Roy’s lawyer filed a civil complaint soon after the first dismissal.

This complaint, according to Variety, said that the original investigation had been rushed and incomplete. This caused a new judge to be appointed, who reviewed the original evidence and investigation.

Van Roy, who played a character named Jessica Rabbit Creature in Besson’s French space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, alleged that she and Besson had an abusive affair that began with the movie and, according to Variety, culminated in a rape at the Bristol Hotel in Paris on May 17, 2018. Van Roy filed an additional complaint on July 6, 2018, accusing Besson of repeated violent sexual relations between March 2016 and May 2018.

Variety‘s report quoted Besson’s lawyer, Thierry Marembert, who stated,

“After a procedure that lasted three and a half years through which many witnesses were questioned and during which a crossed interrogation of Besson and Van Roy took place, the judge had decided to finally dismiss this case against Luc Besson who has been denying these accusations from the start.

The Paris prosecutor previously said the investigations show that the criminal acts of rape were not committed, that the absence of consent has not been demonstrated and that the presence of a constraint, threat and violence had not been characterized.”

That article went on to note that Van Roy’s lawyer, Francis Szpiner, declared the judge to be “Besson’s best lawyer” in a French radio interview.

The Hollywood Reporter added Szpiner’s promise that “the Besson affair is not over,” via French news agency Agence France-Presse, hinting the potential of appealing the decision up the legal chain to the European Court of Human Rights.