Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Adèle Haenel accuses former collaborator of sexual harassment from age 12

Director Christophe Ruggia ‘categorically refutes’ any misconduct

Ellie Harrison
Monday 04 November 2019 11:12
Adèle Haenel
Adèle Haenel

Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Adèle Haenel has accused her former collaborator Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her from the age of 12, allegations which the director has denied.

The French actor claims the sexual harassment began after she was cast in Ruggia’s 2002 film The Devils.

In a report published by Paris-based investigative publication Mediapart, Haenel alleges that the harassment by Ruggia, who is 24 years her senior, took place when she was between the age of 12 and 15.

The actor, who said she decided to speak out about the alleged harassment after being inspired by the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, has chosen not to pursue legal action against Ruggia as she believes “justice ignores” victims of sexual harassment.

In response to the Mediapart report, Ruggia sent a statement via his lawyers saying that he “categorically refutes” any misconduct, adding that the pair had a “professional and affectionate relationship”.

Haenel describes Ruggia’s conduct during the filming and release of her film debut The Devils as “permanent sexual harassment” that included “touching [on the] thighs and torso” and “forced kisses on the neck.”

She alleges that the harassment took place at the director’s apartment and while travelling to film festivals.

The six-month Mediapart investigation included interviews with more than 30 people connected to Haenel and Ruggia, including Portrait of a Lady on Fire producer Bertrand Faivre.

Faivre, who produced Ruggia’s 2011 drama In Turmoil, has stated that he will no longer work with the director.

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Mediapart also states it obtained love letters sent to Haenel by Ruggia.

The Independent has contacted Ruggia's representatives for comment.

Haenel is a six-time César Award nominee and a two-time winner, for Love At First Fight in 2015 and Suzanne in 2014.