Luc Besson, the French filmmaker behind “Lucy” and “Valerian,” who is accused of rape by Dutch-Belgian actor Sand Van Roy, was made an assisted witness by a French judge on Monday.
The judge assigned the new status following a private, five-hour hearing with Besson as part of an ongoing judicial review into the French filmmaker stemming from a civil complaint for rape filed in Paris by Van Roy in March 2019.
The assisted witness status doesn’t mean Besson has been cleared of charges and that the case has been dismissed by the judge. “It’s an intermediary status that a judge can give if some clues emerged from the investigation that could suggest culpability, but aren’t conclusive enough for an indictment at this time,” a police source told Variety.
Although a new investigation could still be launched by the judge, the assisted witness status seems to indicate that that’s unlikely to happen unless new evidence emerges.
“We think this judicial review is now nearing a conclusion because the investigation has been very thorough — every stone has already been turned and [every] detail unearthed,” Besson’s lawyer Thierry Marembert told Variety.
Once the judge decides to either dismiss the case or indict Besson, she will notify all parties involved, including the Paris prosecutor as well as Besson and Van Roy’s lawyers, who will be able to make remarks and suggestions. If Besson is cleared, he can’t be indicted at a later stage for the rape allegations, explained Marambert.
The Paris prosecutor dismissed rape allegations against Besson in February 2019 citing a lack of evidence after a nine-month investigation following initial accusations by Van Roy in May 2018. The actor’s lawyer, Francis Szpiner, filed a civil complaint a month later, arguing that the preliminary investigation conducted between May 2018 to February 2019 by the Paris prosecutor had been “rushed and incomplete,” according to Mediapart.
A new judge then reopened the case and has been reviewing all the elements of the investigation initially conducted by the prosecutor. During the process, additional people named by both Besson and Van Roy’s sides have been interviewed by police, including Besson’s former wife, the actor-director Maïwenn, with whom he has a daughter, and his former partner Anne Parillaud, an actor with whom he has two children. Marambert indicated that both Maïwenn and Parillaud said Besson hadn’t been violent towards them.
Van Roy also underwent a new medical examination. A second psychiatric evaluation was also requested but declined by Van Roy, according to Marambert. A source close to Van Roy said she would be willing to do another psychiatric evaluation with another doctor.
Van Roy’s attorney is now expected to request a hearing between her client and Besson. The pair previously took part in a four-hour hearing during the first investigation but a source close to Van Roy said she hadn’t been able to address Besson directly.
Besson, who has been living in Los Angeles for many years, hasn’t directed or produced a film since his 2019 feature “Anna.” His company EuropaCorp was taken over by its junior lender, the New York fund Vine Alternative Investments, last year, which allowed the banner to restructure. Before the pandemic kicked off, EuropaCorp was given a new credit line of $100 million to develop a slate of films and start producing again. Although Besson isn’t managing the company anymore, he is expected to continue directing and/or producing films serve as artistic director with a five-year contract renewable for another two years.