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Head of French Film Board Found Guilty on Sexual Assault Charges

Head of French Film Board Found Guilty on Sexual Assault Charges

Dominique Boutonnat, the president of France‘s National Film Board, the CNC, has been found guilty on sexual assault charges and received a three-year sentence, two of which will be suspended.

Boutonnat has stepped down from the CNC in the wake of Friday’s verdict and will be replaced by Olivier Henrard. Boutonnat is not expected to serve any jail time but will live under house arrest with an electronic bracelet for a year, French media reports. Boutonnat denied the allegations and is appealing the decision.

Boutonnat was indicted in 2021, accused of sexually assaulting his then-19-year-old godson in August 2020, during a vacation in Greece. Despite the allegations, Boutonnat, who has close ties with French President Emmanuel Macron, was re-appointed as head of the national film board in 2022 and served most of his second term, which was to end next year. Under his guidance, the film board set up several new initiatives to combat sexual harassment and fight sexual violence in the industry.

In response to the ruling, the CNC issued a statement, saying that the allegations against Boutonnat “concern the private sphere and have nothing to do with the CNC’s activities whose functioning were not affected by the undertaking of the judicial procedure.”

The Boutonnat ruling will be hailed as a #MeToo reckoning by many in the French industry. Ahead of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, a petition calling for his removal from office was backed by several industry groups, including the labor union CGT Spectacle and activist organizations Collectif 50/50 and MeTooMédia.

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Another promiant French film figure will soon face his own #MeToo moment. Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac star Gérard Depardieu, will stand trial in October on charges of sexual assault brought by two women who accused the actor of assaulting them on the set of the film The Green Shutters, charges Depardieu denies.

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