French director Christophe Ruggia, who was accused in November by the actress Adele Haenel of having sexually harassed her from the age of 12, has been indicted by French authorities after being held in custody for 48 hours, Variety has confirmed.
Ruggia is being indicted on charges of “sexual aggression against a minor by a person of authority and sexual harassment,” the Paris prosecutor’s office told Variety.
The charges follow accusations by Haenel, who alleged that Ruggia, who directed her in her first film, the 2002 drama “The Devils,” repeatedly made sexual advances when she was between the ages of 12 and 15. Before she filed a police complaint, Haenel spoke to the French website Mediapart which published an investigative report on Nov. 4.
Following the bombshell publication, the Paris prosecutor launched an investigation into Ruggia who was then placed under police custody on Jan. 14. He was questioned by authorities while his apartment was probed. The decision to place Ruggia under custody indicated there were plausible reasons to suspect that he had committed or attempted to commit an offense, as per French law.
Ruggia previously denied the allegations, calling them defamatory. In a statement to Mediapart, he said that he and Haenel had enjoyed a “professional and affectionate” relationship.
Haenel had initially said she did not intend to file a police complaint because she was aware the French justice system was highly inefficient when it comes to protecting women against violence and sexual offenses. But she eventually changed her mind and filed a criminal complaint against Ruggia on Nov. 26. She said she had to file the complaint because “justice had made a step forward” so she “wanted to make one as well.”
One of France’s leading actresses with two Cesar awards under her belt, Haenel credited the release of the HBO/Channel 4 documentary “Leaving Neverland,” about late pop star Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse of two young fans, as the impetus behind her decision to speak out.
Haenel last starred in Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” which won a prize at Cannes and was nominated for a Golden Globe.