French Film Board Boss to Stand Trial for Sexual Assault

French Film Board Boss to Stand Trial for Sexual Assault

Dominique Boutonnat, the president of France‘s National Film Board, the CNC, will go to court this summer to be tried for the alleged sexual assault of his godson, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The public prosecutor’s office in Nanterre, a prefecture in the western suburbs of Paris, has set a trial date for June 14.

Boutonnat is accused of assaulting his godson in August of 2020 when the latter was 21 years old, as reported by French news service AFP. The younger man accused Boutonnat, who is his godfather but with whom he has no family ties, of non-consensual touching and trying to fellate him against his will. Boutonnat denies all charges.

Boutonnat was indicted in Feb. 2021 for the alleged assault but it has taken more than two years to set a start date for the trial. The June start date means the trial will kick off just after this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May, ensuring the case and the debate around Boutonnat will remain front and center in the French media.

There were calls for the CNC to dismiss Boutonnat following the indictment but he remained in his post, overseeing France’s most important film subsidy and regulatory body. The French government even gave Boutonnat a second, three-year term as CNC boss in July 2022, sparking outrage in some quarters, with many in the French media pointing to Boutonnat’s close ties with French President Emmanuel Macron and the former culture minister Rima Abdul-Malak.

It is unclear whether he will remain in the job ahead of the trial. The CNC has so far declined to comment.

Boutonnat has become a target for those who believe the French industry has been dismissive of sexual assault claims and too slow to embrace changes brought about by the #MeToo movement. As CNC head, Boutonnat helped introduce a new sexual harassment prevention program, which requires every French producer to complete training to be eligible for public funding from the CNC. It goes without saying that having the CNC president on trial for sexual assault is not a good look for the film board.

While the first wave of #MeToo appeared to have little impact on the French film industry, there is a second reckoning underway, with new allegations and a fierce debate in the media and within professional bodies. In December, a TV documentary airing new sexual assault allegations against French star Gérard Depardieu, reignited the #MeToo discussion and brought it back to the French mainstream.

Online publication L’Informé was the first to break news of Boutonnat’s trial.

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