Claude Lévêque charged with rape and sexual assault of minors

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The French artist Claude Lévêque has been charged with rape and sexual assault of minors under the age of 15. The charges were laid on 31 March and made public on Friday 23 June by the public prosecutor in Bobigny, in Paris’s northeastern suburbs, where the artist lives.

The 70-year-old artist was left free under judicial control but is not allowed to leave France, according to the prosecutor. His lawyer, Emmanuel Pierrat, declined to comment but Lévêque has asked the magistrates to lift the ban.

The investigation opened in 2019 when the French culture ministry informed the prosecutor’s office of allegations by Laurent Foulon, an art teacher and sculptor, who said he had been raped by the artist in the 1980s from the age of 10 to 17. Lévêque denied the claims and Pierrat said that several witnesses confirmed his version. The artist even hinted that he might have been the victim of blackmail. The case was dismissed under the statute of limitations but Foulon told Le Monde that he had acted “to protect other victims”.

Two brothers then testified that they had been abused by Lévêque during the late 1990s, between the ages of 13 and 17. The prosecutor has stated that these allegations are not covered by the statute of limitations.

Lévêque, who works with multicolour neons, represented France at the 2009 Venice Biennale and had the rare honour of an exhibition dedicated to his work at the Musée du Louvre.

Kamel Menour gallery suspended the artist’s representation when the first accusations surfaced and his permanent installation was removed from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva.

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