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Greek National Theater Director Remains Jailed on Rape Charges

Αssociated Press

Plain-clothed police officers escort handcuffed well-known actor and director Dimitris Lignadis, center, to a magistrate s office in Athens, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS - While denying accusations of rape, Greek National Theater Director Dimitris Lignadis is still being detained in jail and was given until Feb. 24 to present his defense, sex scandals rising in the theater, arts, sports, and other sectors, including the media in Greece.

Handcuffed and escorted by police, he arrived at the examining magistrate’s office on Feb. 21 in a process that will determine after his statement is given whether he will be released pending trial.

Lignadis faces accusations of rape by two men, with both crimes allegedly committed when they were minors, one saying he was only 14 when he said it happened in 2010, and the other saying he was raped in 2015.

A deposition by a woman said to have been very close to Lignadis is considered crucial and court sources not named told Kathimerini she gave graphic details about the charges and that the case is tightening.

Lignadis’ lawyer Nikos Georgouleas, said that his client had voluntarily surrendered himself and didn’t even think of hiding or escaping and that he insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing even after he resigned.

“Mr. Lignadis is honest. He came to (police headquarters) immediately, he cooperates very well, we are going ahead with the legal procedure,” Georgouleas said.

Charges of abusive behavior, sexual harassment and rape against several well-known Greek actors, directors and officials have proliferated in the past month, creating a #MeToo moment in Greece.

The first to speak out was Olympic gold medalist Sofia Bekatorou, who accused an official at Greece’s sailing federation of raping her in 1998.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, who said Lignadis deceived her and denounced him as “dangerous,” said she asked a Supreme Court prosecutor to investigate charges of rape and harassment in the theater community.

The case, and others reportedly made to the actors union, mostly by women who said they were harassed or assaulted by men in positions of authority and prominence, has tainted the ruling New Democracy government although they happened mostly before Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took power in 2019.

The major opposition SYRIZA - which passed a law just before it left making rape a misdemeanor before New Democracy raised it back to a felony - accused Mendoni of trying to protect Lignadis, who was appointed when the Conservatives took over 19 months ago.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)