French actor Gérard Depardieu strongly contests rape and sexual assault charges made against him, his lawyer has said.
The 72-year-old, who is one of France's most famous and prolific actors, was placed under formal investigation on charges of rape and sexual violence in December last year, it was revealed on Tuesday.
His lawyer, Herve Temime, said the information being made public was “regrettable” as he called for “calm, secrecy and respect” as the investigation continues.
“Mr Depardieu was indicted in December 2020, information that had remained secret since then, in accordance with French law,” he said in a statement to Reuters on Wednesday.
“This information became public yesterday, which is regrettable.
“Mr Depardieu is and remains presumed innocent. He strongly contests the accusations against him.
“The investigation must continue in calm, secrecy and respect for Mr Depardieu’s presumption of innocence.”
Depardieu was accused of raping a 22-year-old actor at his Paris home in 2018, an allegation he has denied.
An initial inquiry against the star was dropped in 2019 because of lack of evidence, but has since been revived.
A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters Depardieu had been placed under formal investigation on 16 December last year and that he had not been held in custody or asked to post bail.
The source gave no further details on the allegations.
Depardieu has starred in scores of French-language movies, rising to prominence in 1974 with Going Places, and gained international recognition with a starring role in the 1990 English-language comedy Green Card. He won a Golden Globe best actor award for that role.
His performance in the French-language Cyrano de Bergerac the same year won him the award for best male performance at the Cannes film festival, and a nomination in the best leading actor category at the 1990 Academy Awards.
Additional reporting by Reuters