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 placed in custody by French police on Tuesday, Variety has confirmed.
The Paris prosecutor’s office told Variety that Ruggia had been placed under custody as part of the investigation launched on Nov. 6 for “sexual aggression against a minor by a person of authority and sexual harassment.”
The investigation was opened by the Paris prosecutor just days after the publication of an investigative report on French website Mediapart, in which Haenel 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.
She 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 had initially said she did not intend to file a police complaint because she was aware that the French justice system was highly inefficient when it comes to protecting women against violence and sexual offenses. However, 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.”
Under French law, not everyone being investigated is placed under police custody. The decision to place someone under custody is made when there are six plausible reasons to suspect that someone has committed or attempted to commit a crime.
During the custody period, which lasts 24 hours and can be extended to 48 hours, Ruggia – whose apartment was probed by police this morning – will be questioned by authorities.
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.
One of France’s best known actresses, Haenel most recently co-starred in Celine Sciamma’s period drama “Portrait Of A Lady On Fire” and has won two Cesar awards.