French director held after being accused of abusing child actor

Director Christophe Ruggia detained for questioning following allegations by actress Adele Haenel.

    Haenel, 31, lodged a formal complaint against Ruggia in November after accusing him of sexually harassing her [Daniel Janin/AFP]
    Haenel, 31, lodged a formal complaint against Ruggia in November after accusing him of sexually harassing her [Daniel Janin/AFP]

    A French filmmaker is being held in custody while authorities investigate accusations that he sexually abused a child actress when she was between 12 and 15 years old.

    Director Christophe Ruggia was detained for questioning on Tuesday, based on allegations last year by actress Adele Haenel, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

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    Haenel, 31, lodged a formal complaint against Ruggia in November after accusing him of sexually harassing her. 

    The French actress said in an interview that month that Ruggia touched her inappropriately during and after filming, Les Diables, in the early 2000s. Ruggia has denied the allegations.

    He faces potential charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault of a minor by a person of authority, according to the prosecutor's office.

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    Star of historic drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Haenel said she did not file a complaint sooner because she had no faith in the justice system.

    She slammed the "contempt with which the judicial system treats women".

    However, prosecutors opened an investigation of their own accord and Haenel eventually did file a complaint.

    Haenel said also that Ruggia's public denials had made her "determined to obtain, through judicial means, the status of a victim".

    Haenel has won support from some of the top names of French cinema including the actress Marion Cotillard, who hailed her for "breaking a silence that was so heavy".

    The French film establishment has been rocked by rape accusations against directors Roman Polanski and Luc Besson.

    Earlier this month, France's culture minister said that writer Gabriel Matzneff, accused of raping and seducing children, should be stripped of a special state pension.

    SOURCE: News agencies