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Dominique Boutonnat, France’s CNC President, Faces Suspended Sentence

Trialed for alleged sexual assault on June 14, Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the National Film Board, France’s most powerful film institution, is facing a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Boutonnat was indicted in February 2021 for the alleged sexual assault of his then 19-year-old godson in August 2020, during a vacation in Greece. On Friday, at the Nanterre courthouse, the prosecutor requested a three-year suspended prison sentence against Boutonnat who is currently service a second mandate as president of the CNC. He was re-upped by the French government in 2022 in spite of the fact that he had been indicted on sexual assault charges a year prior. He has denied all accusations. The CNC said in a statement sent to Variety that the “allegations 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 film executive, who has close ties with France President Emmanuel Macron, was slammed by an investigative story that ran in Liberation and a petition to remove him from office on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival. So far, the petition has collected 4,551 anonymous signatures and is being endorsed by various orgs, including the Collectif 50/50, MeTooMédia and the labor union CGT Spectacle, as well as actor-director Judith Godrèche. The latter has catalyzed a #MeToo reckoning in France after accusing filmmakers Benoit Jacquot and Jacques Doillon of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

The petition highlighted the irony of maintaining Boutonnat at the helm of the National Film Board while the film body has set up several policies, including workshops for film professionals, aimed at fighting sexual violence. During an audition at the Senate earlier this week, Godrèche said the situation at the CNC symbolized the country’s reluctance to embrace the #MeToo movement. But France’s culture minister Rachida Dati has argued Boutonnat should stay in post because he benefits from the presumption of innocence. Some insiders have pointed out Boutonnat might even have the possibility of finishing his mandate even if he’s found guilty of sexual assault, since it doesn’t concern his professional role, and is expected to appeal the ruling.

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