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Culture

French prosecutors drop investigation into Luc Besson sexual assault claims

media Luc Besson attends the inauguration of the 'Cite du Cinema' movie studios in Saint-Denis, near Paris, 21 September 2012. Reuters/Charles Platiau

French prosecutors have dropped an investigation into claims that film mogul Luc Besson raped his former girlfriend, his lawyers said Monday.

Actress Sand Van Roy told police in May that she was repeatedly raped by Besson, 59, during an on-off relationship with the maker of "Nikita" and "The Fifth Element".

She is one of nine women who have said they were assaulted or harassed by the powerful director and producer, whose 2017 space odyssey, "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets", was the most expensive European film ever made.

But his lawyers said that prosecutors had closed their inquiry into the alleged rapes, which Besson had always denied.

Besson "is sad that some people -- a minority happily -- were too quick to condemn him", his lawyers said in a statement to the French media.

They said the director "thanks all those others whose constant support has helped him get through these difficult months".

Van Roy, 30, a Dutch-Belgian actress who had relatively minor roles in Besson's "Taxi 5" and "Valerian", had said that she had been raped a total of four times but had feared for her career if she complained.

Besson had denounced the claims as "fantasist accusations".

Blood tests conducted after the first rape claim was made in May showed that Van Roy had not been drugged.

But her allegations prompted eight other women to complain to the police or the French media about his behaviour. One actress claimed she had to escape on "her hands and knees" from a casting in his Paris office in 2002.

The woman in her forties, who now lives in the US, wrote to prosecutors 10 days ago to say she wanted to formally add her testimony to the other complaints against him..

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