Five more women have accused French movie director Luc Besson of sexual assault and harassment, according to reports on Wednesday, six months after a young actress claimed he had raped her.
The new allegations from students at his Paris film school, an ex-model and former employees bring to nine the number of women who have made complaints about the maker of The Fifth Element.
They include one of his former personal assistants who told the French investigative website Mediapart that she felt forced into having sex with him in luxury Paris hotels.
Besson’s lawyer and his production company EuropaCorp declined to comment on the new claims when contacted by AFP.
His former assistant said that he had invited her to dinner in his suite in the Meurice hotel when she was homeless and had put out an appeal to friends looking for a job.
He said he would be her “protector” and asked her to sit on his lap and give him “a little kiss”.
“I don’t know why I let it happen to me” she said of the non-consensual sex she claimed that followed.
‘I WAS PETRIFIED’
“I was petrified,” she told Mediapart. “I had such a positive idea of him at the time, for me he was a kind of living god.”
Besson is one of the most powerful players in the French film industry with a string of international hits to his name including The Big Blue and Nikita and has his own studio on the edge of Paris.
His 2017 sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was the most expensive European film ever made with a 158-million-euro ($180m) budget.
But in May 27-year-old Belgian-Dutch actress Sand Van Roy told police that she was raped by Besson, 59, during an on-off relationship with the producer and director.
Van Roy, who has only ever appeared in Besson films including Valerian, said she felt pressured into sex to keep her roles.
Besson has categorically denied the claims, which his lawyer Thierry Marembert has denounced as “fantasist accusations”.
In July, a casting director who often worked with Besson told Mediapart that he assaulted her “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 Besson “behaved inappropriately” with them, with one actress claiming she had to escape from a casting in his Paris office on her hands and knees.
Among the new allegations, theatre producer Karine Isambert said she was grabbed during a meeting in a London hotel room in 1995 when she was a model hoping to start an acting career.
Two former students of Besson’s Cite du Cinema film school also accused him of harassment and a former employee of his EuropaCorp company said he had kissed and acted inappropriately with her.