Gerard Depardieu divides the French entertainment world by launching a

Gérard Depardieu divides the French entertainment world by launching a counter-petition

Gerard Depardieu

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Around 600 figures from the French arts and entertainment world have signed a “counter-petition” denouncing the defense of famous actor Gérard Depardieu in the face of several accusations of sexual assault and one of rape.

The petition described a recent open letter in support of Depardieu, signed by 55 celebrities from the cinema world, and President Emmanuel Macron's public defense of the actor on a talk show before Christmas as a slap in the face to all victims of sexual violence.

“It is the dark and perfect example of a world that refuses to let things change,” said the letter, which was posted on the website of the investigative news website Mediapart on Friday.

“It is the reversal of roles in which the executioner (the 'monster', the man, not at all holy, but simply obscene) presents himself as a victim, with the help of his friends.” As always in cases of gender-based and sexual violence against women “The ‘presumption of innocence’ for the perpetrator sounds like a ‘presumption of lying’ for the women who testify against him,” it continues.

The signatories included popular rappers, DJs and singers as well as artists and photographers, as well as personalities from the cinema world such as actors Judith Chemla, Felix Maritaud, Waly Dia and Louise Chevillotte, as well as director and screenwriter Caroline Deruas.

Depardieu's star has fallen in France in recent weeks following the broadcast of a sensational edition of the investigative program Complément d'Enquête, which examined historical allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior by the actor.

The show follows an official complaint against Depardieu from actress Charlotte Arnould over two rapes in 2018, which is currently before the courts, as well as several allegations of sexual assault against the star.

Mediapart had previously detailed 13 allegations of sexual misconduct against Depardieu in a special report published last April.

The Complément d'Enquête report revealed that a second woman, French actress Hélène Darras, also filed a complaint against Depardieu in September in connection with events on the set of the 2007 dance comedy Disco.

A third woman, Spanish journalist Ruth Baza, is said to have lodged an official complaint against the actor in Spain in connection with an incident that occurred during an interview in Paris in 1995, when she was 23 years old happened to the show.

The new counter-petition comes less than a week after the open letter in support of Depardieu, published on December 25 on the website of the newspaper Le Figaro, which called for the public “lynching” and cancellation of “a sacred” monster of cinema “was denounced.

Signatories included former First Lady, top model and musician Carla Bruni, as well as popular actors Charlotte Rampling, Carole Bouquet, Nathalie Baye and Pierre Richard.

A handful of signatories have since tried to distance themselves from parts of this initiative after it emerged that the journalist who initiated the open letter, Yannis Ezziad, has ties to far-right politician Eric Zemmour.

Bouquet, who was in a relationship with Depardieu from 1997 to 2005, posted on her Instagram account on Friday that she had signed the petition “for Gérard Depardieu” but supported the journalist's “ideas and values” behind the open letter.

“Giving him visibility through Gérard’s mediation, as you can imagine, made me deeply uncomfortable,” she wrote.

Filmmaker and author Nadine Trintignant immediately withdrew her support for the letter because it was written by Ezziad.

“I didn’t know who was behind the petition when I signed it,” she said in a statement. “I ask everyone who was shocked not to blame me for this serious mistake.”

Meanwhile, actor Yvan Attal gave an interview to news channel BFMTV in which he explained that he signed the original open letter in response to the media reaction and not as personal support for Depardieu.

“I feel uncomfortable because I signed a petition that I don't entirely agree with, but I signed it for reasons that were stronger than what was troubling,” Attal said.

“There are too many things that are not right… He has the right not to be publicly lynched month after month. It is in the newspapers every day and especially because there is a case against him, we should let justice do the talking,” he said.

Veteran actor Gérard Darmon echoed Attal in a separate interview, saying his signing of the original letter was “a completely civil act” since he did not know Depardieu personally.

“I don't know him, he's not a friend, I shot a scene with him in Asterix a long time ago… what I can't stand is this trial by the media,” he said.

The actor added: “If the two rapes ever turn out to be true, I will be the first to step forward and say, 'You're a pig, I didn't think you were capable of this'.”