PARIS — Prosecutors in France said on Friday that they had dropped their investigation into accusations of rape, sexual assault and harassment against one of the country’s best-known television news anchors, citing a lack of evidence and an expired statute of limitations.

The news anchor, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, 73, was initially accused in February by Florence Porcel, a 37-year-old writer, of raping her on two occasions, first in 2004, when she was 21 and he had invited her to watch his news show in person after she wrote to him, and again in 2009.

Seven other women stepped forward to accuse Mr. Poivre d’Arvor of sexual misconduct, but the police elected to shut down their investigation after talking to more than 20 women over four months.

Mr. Poivre d’Arvor, a star anchorman widely known by his initials, PPDA, presented the prime-time evening news for more than two decades, including France’s most-watched news show, on the channel TF1, from 1987 to 2008.

He is one of several prominent Frenchmen who have been accused of sexual abuse over the past year in France — a series of scandals that have rocked the country’s political, cultural and media elite — but he is also one of several who have seen the charges against them dropped.

He has denied any wrongdoing, describing some of the allegations as fabricated and saying that in other cases, the sexual relationships were consensual. Lawyers for Ms. Porcel and for Mr. Poivre d’Arvor were not immediately reachable for comment.

Catherine Denis, a prosecutor in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, said in a statement that the rape accusations made by Ms. Porcel and five other women that predated 2007 were past the statute of limitations, which was 10 years at the time. A 2017 law doubled the statute of limitations, for current and future cases, to 20 years, but without retroactive effect.

Many of the accusations of sexual harassment or assault were also past the statute of limitations. For those that were not, Ms. Denis said, there was not enough evidence, like records of phone calls or evidence that Mr. Poivre d’Arvor had made repeated sexual comments, to support the accusations.

Ms. Porcel’s 2009 accusation was not past the statute of limitations, but Ms. Denis said that there was “insufficient proof” to support the allegations because the police had not uncovered any evidence enabling them to independently substantiate Ms. Porcel’s account.

The investigation included an analysis of the “configuration” of the offices where Ms. Porcel said the rape had occurred, the statement said. The investigators were unable to “confirm that it could have happened out of sight” from other people, as she had claimed.

This month, prosecutors also dropped an investigation into accusations of rape of a minor and sexual aggression by a prominent political scientist, Olivier Duhamel, because the statute of limitations had expired. Mr. Duhamel had been accused by his stepdaughter, Camille Kouchner, of sexually abusing her twin brother more than 30 years ago.

In 2019, prosecutors closed a rape investigation into the actor Gérard Depardieu, but this year, he was charged with rape and sexual assault after new evidence emerged.

Under French law, if a complaint filed with prosecutors is dropped, the plaintiff, under certain conditions, can file a new complaint that automatically hands over the case to independent investigative judges. Such action also enables the plaintiff to pursue both civil and criminal action.

It was not immediately clear whether Ms. Porcel or any of the other women who had accused Mr. Poivre d’Arvor might try to use that legal tool.

Mr. Poivre d’Arvor, who has written scores of books and hosted various shows since leaving TF1, including a literary program that ended shortly before the accusations emerged, had filed a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Porcel, accusing her of making false claims against him.

The Nanterre prosecutor’s office said it was also dropping that suit because there was no proof that Ms. Porcel had shown any “intention of malice.”



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