public letter defends depardieu after assault allegations

In a public letter, dozens of actors, directors and other celebrities said he was the victim of a “lynching,” as he faces allegations of sex crimes.

Over 50 actors, artists and other celebrities in France have issued a letter ardently defending Gérard Depardieu, the actor accused of sexual harassment and assault, calling him the victim of a “lynching” and arguing that he should be able to continue working despite a storm of criticism.

“We can no longer remain silent in the face of the lynching that has descended upon him, in the face of the torrent of hatred that is being heaped upon his person, without nuance,” they declared in the letter, which was published on Monday by the newspaper Le Figaro. The letter was signed by 56 people, some of them prominent cultural figures, and other lesser-known personalities.

They included the actresses Nathalie Baye, Charlotte Rampling and Carole Bouquet — one of Mr. Depardieu’s former partners — as well as the actors Jacques Weber and Pierre Richard; Roberto Alagna, the opera tenor; Carla Bruni, the singer and former first lady of France; and Bertrand Blier, the director whose 1974 film “Going Places” vaulted Mr. Depardieu to fame.

The letter came less than a week after President Emmanuel Macron of France mounted his own staunch defense of Mr. Depardieu and condemned a “manhunt” against him, prompting swift shock and bewilderment from French feminists.

While the accusations against Mr. Depardieu have been growing for years, much of the criticism against the actor was recently blown into the open by a French television documentary that aired this month on France 2 television. The documentary showed Mr. Depardieu making extremely crude sexual and sexist comments during a 2018 trip to North Korea.

In interviews with the media this year, over a dozen women have accused him of groping, harassing or sexually assaulting them and making inappropriate sexual remarks. He has been charged with rape and sexual assault in one case, involving Charlotte Arnould, a French actress.

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