Actor Depardieu. Picture: Reuters

French actor Gerard Depardieu has been accused of sexual assault and rape by a 22-year-old actress. The actress filed a complaint on Monday, according to French news channel BFM, reports variety.com.

The unnamed actress is accusing Depardieu of having assaulted and raped her at his home here on two occasions — on August 6 and August 13. The young woman was studying at a school where Depardieu is teaching, according to BFM. 

The pair was meeting at Depardieu's home to rehearse for a play.

A preliminary investigation has been launched.

Depardieu's lawyer, Herve Temime said that his client strongly denied the allegations. 

"Gerard Depardieu is shaken by this complaint... and is absolutely contesting any assault, rape, or any criminal act," Temime said.

Depardieu is the second major French film industry figure to be accused of sexual assault, following prominent French director Luc Besson, who is still being investigated for allegedly raping Dutch/Belgian actress Sand Van Roy.

Depardieu stars in Netflix's French series "Marseille". He earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the 1990 film "Cyrano de Bergerac". The actor also earned accolades for "1900", "La Chèvre", "The Last Metro", "Green Card", and the mini-series "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Although he's considered an iconic actor in France, he has often made headlines for spurring controversies. Back in 2013, he became a local pariah after relocating to Belgium to pay less taxes.

He has also been criticised due to his friendship with President Vladimir Putin, who offered him a Russian passport.

IANS