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French film mogul Luc Besson hit by more sex assault claims

AFP  |  Paris 

A second woman has accused the French movie mogul of sexual assault, according to reports, two months after a alleged he had raped her.

The 49-year-old casting told the French website Mediapart late yesterday that she was assaulted by the "every time I took the lift with him", and that he also demanded sexual favours from her on set.

Two other women also said that "behaved inappropriately" with them, with one claiming she had to escape from a casting in his office on her hands and knees.

The director's has already denounced the allegation as "fantasist accusations".

Contacted by AFP today, his office said that he had nothing to add to his statement to Mediapart that "categorically denies any type of inappropriate or reprehensible behaviour. Mr Besson is reserving his answers for the investigators so that his innocence can be shown".

Mediapart said that the casting had written to prosecutors and that the who had made the previous claim had levelled a further allegation against Besson.

But prosecutors said today that they had yet to receive the new complaints. With a string of international hits -- including "The Fifth Element", "The Big Blue" and "Nikita" -- and his own studio on the edge of Paris, Besson is one of the most powerful players in the French film industry.

Blood tests conducted after the claim was first made in May showed that the woman was not drugged.

The 27-year-old actress -- who has only ever appeared in Besson's films -- told police she was in an on-off relationship with the 59-year-old. She said she felt pressured into sex to keep her roles, including in his 2017 sci-fi epic "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets", which with its 158-million-euro (USD 180-million) budget was the most expensive European film ever made.

Her mother, a Belgian doctor, and a number of her friends told Mediapart that the actress had been in a controlling relationship with the director, who made her diet and dye her hair blonde.

Hours after the alleged rape in May in a luxury hotel, her mother said that she talked to her daughter on FaceTime and she was "trembling, crying and sweating. It was awful".

The actress told the website that the director "liked to make her suffer during sex" sometimes until she bled and that he had twice assaulted her while she slept before the rape.

Besson's production company refused to comment on the new allegations but told AFP that "we fully support in this difficult period".

The film industry has been rocked by a wave of rape and scandals since Hollywood mogul was accused of a series of assault last year, sparking the #MeToo movement.

The French industry -- the world's second-biggest movie exporter -- has been relatively untouched, with veteran French actress even making headlines by defending men's right to "hit on" women.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 18:00 IST