French theatre director quits after rape claim
The director of a French theatre, Jean-Pierre Baro, has resigned the day after his staff went on strike, asking him to quit over the fallout from a rape allegation.
Baro, the first major theatre figure to be hit by the #MeToo movement in France, denied assaulting a colleague in 2011 and police dropped the case for lack of proof.
Baro, one of the few black men at the head of a French cultural institution, made his name with a stage adaptation of JM Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” about a South African university professor accused of sexually harassing a student.
A formal complaint for rape was made last year shortly after he was chosen to head the Theatre des Quartiers d’Ivry on the southeastern edge of Paris.
“My conscience is clear,” Baro told AFP after stepping down on Thursday, saying he was only quitting to save the subsidised theatre, which has seen its audiences plummet since the allegation was first aired in June.
He said sex with a production assistant was consensual and insisted he had worked closely with her for seven years afterwards.
“I was interrogated by the police and when they had her confront me it appeared that I had never forced her,” he said.
“I did not use any form of violence or pressure that night,” he said.
“What happened was totally consensual for me. It was only seven years later that I found out that she did not feel the same way.”
Baro said he was 33 “totally unknown and barely out of school” when the alleged rape happened.