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French Movie Industry Has Shocking #MeToo Moment

Actress Adele Haenel says director Christophe Ruggia sexually harassed her when she was a child
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2019 10:10 AM CST
Actress Adele Haenel poses for photographers at the premiere of the film "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" at the London Film Festival in London on Oct. 8, 2019.   (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – A French actress who's won two of her country's Oscars just dropped a #MeToo shocker. The BBC reports Adele Haenel, 30, now says that between the ages of 12 and 15 she was sexually harassed and inappropriately touched by Christophe Ruggia, the director of her first film, The Devils. Per the Guardian, Haenel told the Mediapart news outlet she was subjected to "repeated touching" and "forced kisses on the neck," at both Ruggia's home and when they traveled together. What prompted her to speak out: She says she saw the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, which "made me understand the mechanisms of control and fascination." Witnesses tell Mediapart that Ruggia had an unhealthy obsession with his young star. Ruggia denies Haenel's description of what happened, though he confesses to making "errors" in their relationship.

"I did not see that my adulation for her, and the hopes I placed in her, might—given her young age—come across at times as irksome," he says in a statement, per the BBC. "If this is what happened ... I ask her pardon." He adds: "My social exclusion is now underway, and there is nothing I can do to escape it." The French Society of Film Directors says it's kicking him out. Others in the French film industry see Haenel's reveal as a crucial moment and are applauding her bravery. "Adele, your courage is a gift of incomparable generosity," actress Marion Cotillard wrote on social media. Haenel herself has declined to file a complaint against Ruggia, saying she doesn't trust the judicial system, but her revelation has spurred the public prosecutor to begin a probe into "sexual aggression on a minor carried out by someone in authority." (Read more MeToo stories.)

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