French theater director, Jean-Pierre Baro has resigned after his staff went on strike urging him to quit over the fallout from a rape allegation.
Jean-Pierre Baro, the first major theater figure to be hit by the #MeToo movement in France.
He denied assaulting his 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 former complaint for rape was made last year after he was chosen to head the Theatre des Quartiers d’Ivry on the southeastern edge of Paris.
“My conscience is clear,” Baro said after stepping down on Thursday, saying he was only quitting to save the subsidized theater, 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.”
Jean-Pierre Baro said he was “totally unknown and barely out of school” when the alleged rape happened.
“We were two young people starting out together… and for 10 years we grew up professionally together”, Baro said.
Some 60 actors, directors and theater professionals signed an open letter on Thursday defending Baro, saying the image propagated of him as a “sexual criminal abusing his power does not at all fit with the person we know.
“He should not be the scapegoat for a scourge that is gnawing at our society,” they added.
The accusation first surfaced in a blog on the Mediapart investigative website.