Portugal Colonial - French cinema boss on trial for sexual assault

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French cinema boss on trial for sexual assault
French cinema boss on trial for sexual assault / Photo: LOIC VENANCE - AFP/File

French cinema boss on trial for sexual assault

The head of France's top cinema institution Dominique Boutonnat denied sexually assaulting his godson as he went on trial Friday in a case that has led to calls for him to step down.

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The trial comes as French cinema reels from a renewed #MeToo reckoning that has seen several big names, including acting legend Gerard Depardieu, accused of sexual abuse.

Activists have denounced Boutonnat's continued leadership of the National Centre of Cinema (CNC), whose role includes overseeing measures to curb sexual violence in the industry.

His godson accuses him of trying to masturbate him during a holiday in Greece in 2020 when he was 19.

"I looked at him to find my godfather and that's when I saw someone completely different... It was someone using me to masturbate," the godson, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court.

Boutonnat responded in court that it was his godson who had initiated the situation and kissed him.

"I feel bad about leaving an ambiguous situation, but to say there was a sexual assault is false," he told the court.

He was placed under investigation in February 2021 but still reappointed by the government as head of the CNC in July 2022.

Training to prevent abuse has in recent months become obligatory for films seeking public funding via the CNC.

The CNC told AFP that the case against Boutonnat came from "the private sphere" and had no relation to its activities.