French investigators are looking into the death of an actress who was one of the first to accuse film star Gerard Depardieu of sexual assault, prosecutors said this week.

Several media outlets have reported that Emmanuelle Debever died by suicide aged 60 on December 7, the day a televised report was aired highlighting allegations of sexual harassment and violence against the actor.

Her partner told police on November 29 that she had “left home, leaving behind a worrying note”, the public prosecutor's office said late on Wednesday.

Police then discovered a woman who had jumped from a bridge on the river Seine and she was rushed to hospital.

Following her death, “media reported that the actress had complained of inappropriate behaviour by... Depardieu, including in a 2019 Facebook post”, it said.

“In view of this new element, an enquiry has been opened into... the circumstances that could have led to this death.” 

Debever in the Facebook post was one of the first to speak out against Depardieu for his behaviour during the filming of Andrzej Wajda's 1983 Danton, set during the French revolution.

“The sacred monster took many liberties during the shoot... Slipping his fat paw under my skirts, supposedly to feel me better. And me not having any of it,” she wrote.

Explicit remarks

Several people have said on social media that the actress filed a complaint for rape and sexual assault against Depardieu in 2019 but that nothing came of it.

The prosecutor's office was unable to confirm this on Wednesday evening.

The latest report, aired on France 2 television on December 7, showed Depardieu on a trip to North Korea in 2018 repeatedly making explicit sexual comments in the presence of a female interpreter, and sexualising a small girl riding a horse.

It also featured an interview with Charlotte Arnould, an actress who has accused the actor of raping her twice in 2018 when she was 22 and anorexic.

Depardieu was placed under formal investigation in December 2020 but not jailed.

At least another 13 women have also accused him of sexual harassment or assault.

The actor – who has more than 200 titles to his name, including 1990 comedy Green Card and Netflix series Marseille – was forced to put his career on hold in October.

The Canadian province of Quebec on Wednesday stripped Depardieu of its top honour over his “scandalous” comments against women in the France 2 report.


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