Adele Haenel, the French actor who alleged that director Christophe Ruggia sexually harassed her for years starting when she was 12 years old, filed a police complaint against him Tuesday. The information was confirmed by Haenel’s lawyers to the investigative website Mediapart, which first published Haenel’s allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Ruggia in a bombshell article published Nov. 3.
Ruggia denies Haenel’s accusations. He directed her in her first movie, the 2002 drama “The Devils.”
Haenel, 30, said in the original Mediapart story that she did not intend to file a police complaint because she knew the French justice system was highly inefficient when it comes to protecting women against violence and sexual offenses.
A few days after the story’s publication, however, the Paris prosecutor proactively opened a preliminary investigation into Ruggia. The Paris prosecutor’s office told Variety then that it had “opened a preliminary investigation into sexual aggression against a minor by a person of authority and sexual harassment.”
Haenel told Mediapart on Tuesday that she had changed her mind and had decided to file a criminal complaint against Ruggia because “the justice had made a step forward” so she “wanted to make one as well.” Her willingness to speak publicly about what she alleges happened to her has been hailed as the start of a shift in attitude in France toward sexual harassment and misconduct.
Haenel was interviewed by police officers Tuesday as part of the investigation launched by the Paris prosecutor. Haenel told Mediapart she decided to take legal action against Ruggia mainly because she found his denials “unbearable.” She said his denials of her allegations reinforced “the feeling of impunity in which he lives and the feeling of injustice in which I’ve been living for 18 years.”
Ruggia was almost immediately expelled from the SRF, the French directors’ guild, after the original story in Mediapart. Haenel has most recently been seen in Celine Sciamma’s Cannes prize-winning film, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”