NANTERRE (France), June 14 — The head of France’s top cinema institution Dominique Boutonnat went on trial today on charges of sexually assaulting his godson — a case that has led to months of calls for him to step down.

The trial comes as French cinema reels from a renewed #MeToo reckoning that has seen several big names, including acting legend Gerard Depardieu, accused of sexual abuse.

Activists have decried Boutonnat’s continued leadership of the National Centre of Cinema (CNC), whose role includes overseeing measures to curb sexual violence in the industry.

His godson accuses him of trying to masturbate him during a holiday in Greece in 2020 when he was 19.

“I looked at him to find my godfather and that’s when I saw someone completely different... It was someone using me to masturbate,” the godson, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court.

Boutonnat, who has yet to take the stand, has previously said there was “consensual kissing”.

He was put under investigation in February 2021 but still reappointed by the government as head of the CNC in July 2022.

Training to prevent abuse has become obligatory for films seeking to receive public funding via the CNC in recent months.

The CNC told AFP that the case against Boutonnat came from “the private sphere” and had no relation to its activities in the film world. — AFP