The head of France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC), Dominique Boutonnat, has been formally placed under investigation following allegations of sexual assault and attempted rape by his 22-year-old godson, the French prosecution service confirmed on Thursday (Feb 11).
Boutonnat was taken into police custody on Wednesday for initial questioning related to an official complaint lodged in October about events that allegedly took place last August.
Boutonnat’s lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny reiterated the film producer and CNC president’s denial of the allegations.
“My client contests having committed any sort of offence,” Marsigny said on Thursday.
French media has reported that the accuser was the son of longtime family friends and that the incident took place during a holiday in Greece.
Under French law, an investigating magistrate will now investigate the affair in more depth to decide whether a case should be brought to trial and on what charges, or whether the allegations should be dismissed.
Boutonnat has been president of the CNC since July 2019, steering it through the current Covid-19 pandemic which has hit the French film industry hard due to the closure of cinemas.
On Wednesday, France’s gender equality pressure group Le Collectif 50/50 called on the CNC to temporarily suspend Boutonnat while the investigation and legal procedure was underway.
“In spite of the private nature of this police custody, Le Collectif 50/50 calls for the suspension of Dominique Boutonnat so that the parties and justice can fully and calmly focus on the necessary procedure while allowing the work of the CNC to continue,” it said in a statement.
On taking up the position of CNC president, Boutonnat was charged with overhauling and modernising the body, and spearheaded its committee to tackle sexual harassment within the film industry.