Second actress accuses French director Benoit Jacquot of sexual abuse


French actress Isild Le Besco (left) and film director Benoit Jacquot arrive for the screening of their movie 'L'intouchable' in competition at the 63rd Venice Film Festival in Venice's Lido on Sept 5, 2006. Photo: AFP

A second French actress accused film director Benoit Jacquot Thursday of having a "destructive hold" over her during a relationship that started when she was 16 and he was 52, after another filed a legal case alleging he raped her as a minor.

Isild Le Besco, 41, said that their relationship included "a destructive hold, a loss of self ... and especially psychological violence.

"For example, he would always tell me I was fat. There was physical violence, sometimes, in anger," Le Besco told Le Parisien newspaper.

Her lawyer Benjamin Chouai told AFP she was thinking about filing a legal complaint.

Le Besco, who acted in Jacquot's 2000 film Sade about the notorious Marquis de Sade when she was 16, said the relationship marked her.

"Afterwards, I experienced things that were even worse with other men because I was ready to squash myself for someone," she said, without elaborating.

Earlier this month, she told Le Monde newspaper that her time with Jacquot had included "psychological and physical violence".

Jacquot, now 77, rejected the allegations.

Le Besco spoke up after actor Judith Godreche, 51, earlier this month filed a legal complaint accusing the prominent arthouse director of raping her in a relationship that began when she was 14 and he was 25 years her senior.

She has accused Jacquot of manipulating her into a relationship when she was a vulnerable child, playing sadomasochistic sexual games and controlling her life down to what she ate and the length of her hair. Jacquot has also rejected those accusations.

Godreche is to speak at a French Senate hearing next week.

"Hearing her testimony is important, because (we are) working to ensure the situations of violence against a minor that she describes stop happening and are punished," said senator Dominique Verien, who heads a women's rights delegation in the Senate.

Le Besco said speaking publicly about a past relationship was "painful", but she had been inspired by "other women speaking up".

"The more we speak up, the more violence... will be perceived as such, the more abuses will be called out and can stop," she said.

Her comments come as French cinema is rocked by accusations it has shrugged off sexism and sexual abuse for decades.

At the centre of the storm are allegations against 75-year-old film icon Gerard Depardieu, who has been charged with rape, and faces more than a dozen other accusations of assault or harassment.

The actor "firmly rejects all accusations against him", his lawyer has said. – AFP

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