Adèle Haenel, the multi-award-winning French actress whose recent credits include Cannes hits Portrait Of A Lady On Fire and Deerskin, has publicly accused French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her from the age of 12.
In an extensive report published by Paris-based investigative journal Mediapart, the actress claims Ruggia began harassing her after she was cast in his 2002 drama The Devils. Haenel says that advances took place on numerous occasions and continued until she was 15. In the report, the actress says she will not pursue legal action as she believes “justice ignores” victims in her situation
In response to the piece, Ruggia sent the French website a statement via his lawyers saying that he “categorically refutes” any misconduct. The statement says that the pair had a “professional and affectionate relationship” and calls the reporting “slanderous.”
Haenel claims that the incidents took place between 2001 and 2004, when she was aged 12-15 and the director was 36-39. She describes the director’s conduct during the filming and subsequent release of The Devils, her film debut, as “permanent sexual harassment”, including “touching [on the] thighs and torso”, and “forced kisses on the neck.” Incidents took place at the director’s flat and while travelling to film festivals, she claims.
In the report, the actress says that she has come forward now after being inspired by HBO’s Michael Jackson doc Leaving Neverland. She says that, by coming forward, she is looking to “denounce the system of silence and complicity that makes this [conduct] possible”.
The Mediapart investigation took place over six months and interviewed more than 30 people connected to Haenel and Ruggia, including Portrait Of A Lady On Fire director Celine Sciamma and producer Bertrand Faivre, who produced Ruggia’s 2011 drama In Turmoil but says in the piece he will no longer work with the director after learning of the investigation.
The report states it also obtained documents that corroborate the actresses’ accusations, including love letters sent to her by the director.
Ruggia used to be the co-chair of France’s Society Of Film Directors (SRF), alongside Sciamma.
Now 30 years old, Haenel is a six-time César Award nominee and a two-time winner, for Love At First Fight in 2015 and Suzanne in 2014.
In the article, she says that her coming forward is “not to burn Christophe Ruggia…[but] to put the world back in the right direction… [and] that this exploitation of children, of women cease”.
Deadline has contacted Ruggia’s reps for further comment.