Chile opens sexual abuse probe against filmmaker

Miguel Asensio, Nicolás López agree to close Sobras

SANTIAGO – A public prosecutor in Chile has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against well-known film director Nicolás López amid reports of his production company’s closure.

Nicolás López apologized on Monday in an online video, following allegations from eight Chilean actresses in a magazine article on Saturday. However, the 35-year-old denied he was “a stalker or an abuser.”

Santiago prosecutor Manuel Guerra said he had ordered the opening of a “criminal investigation” into the magazine report, according to La Tercera newspaper on Tuesday.

“From what is revealed in the magazine, there are a couple of facts that could constitute sexual abuse, but this will be determined by diligent investigation,” Guerra was quoted as saying.

Chilean film director Nicolas Lopez accused of sexual harassment

The East Prosecutor’s Office will try to clarify the strong accusations made by the actresses, including Daniela Ginestar, Josefina Montané and Lucy Cominetti.

Actress and journalist Daniela Ginestar claimed in the Sabado magazine report that López masturbated in front of her while “he projected onto a giant screen a video showing him having sex with a famous Chilean television personality.”

Another actress and model Josefina Montané told Sabado that in a 2014 meeting López “literally asked me if he could grab my tit.”

In his apology, López said he was “in shock” and while admitting he might have acted like “a scoundrel, an imbecile,” he denied being a sex pest and added he was still “stunned” after reading “all these statements by people who I considered friends or close to me, trusted people with whom I had a relationship.

“I was shocked to see they felt bad due to my actions. So, I take this opportunity to apologize for how they felt, and I hope all this is clarified soon,” said López while announcing his decision to step down from his production company Sobras, which he founded more than a decade ago.

Nicolas Lopez steps down following harassment claims by Chilean actresses (VIDEO)

His resignation is added to what was published Thursday by El Mercurio, which indicates that sources inside the company confirmed that yesterday a meeting was held between López and his partner Miguel Asensio (husband of the actress Paz Bascuñán), where they would have taken the decision of closing Sobras.

According to El Mercurio, Asensio would create another production company and with new partners after ending its link with Sobras and Nicolás López.

The process that should continue now is the legal review of the rights of all the films made by the production company, as well as the films that are about to be released. Such is the case of the film “Como hemosmos casa”, directed by Boris Quercia, in which Sobras worked as a co-producer.

This film has a release date for next August 16 and would now be produced by Chilechitá, a company owned by the director of the film, and the distributor BF.

Reports in local media also suggest this week the filmmaker tried to get the support of several women he contacted to sign a letter in his defense. However, the strategy of Lopez has not borne fruit, since none has wanted to join because they are not clear if he is guilty or not of the allegations of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, Netflix said the company has licensed Lopez’s films in the past and that their deal with Lopez on an upcoming project is now “under review.”

López gained fame through his trilogy “Que pena tu vida,” “Que pena tu boda” and “Que pena tu familia,” before in 2005 directing “Santos,” a film about a failed comic artist.

In April, Chilean prosecutors also opened an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against director Herval Abreu, known as the “czar” of Chilean soap operas.

Sexual abuse and harassment allegations against powerful men in a range of sectors have emerged across the globe since The New York Times revealed allegations against U.S. movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in October.