The Paris prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into a former French environment minister over a series of accusations made against him in a recent broadcast investigation.
At least six women have accused ecologist Nicolas Hulot of actions ranging from sexual assault to rape. Three of them described his actions in a November 25 France 2 programme Envoyé spéciale.
Hulot has denied wrongdoing, stating the women's claims are false.
Following the special broadcast, the Paris prosecutor's office "opened today a preliminary investigation of the counts of rape and sexual assault," said prosecutor Laure Beccuau in a statement.
The investigation will determine if the facts "characterise a criminal offence and whether, in view of the timing, the statute of limitations for public action has passed."
The prosecutor often opens investigations into accusations of sexual violence against minors even if the statute of limitations has run out.
One of the women who spoke out against Hulot was just 16 when she says Hulot sexually assaulted her in 1989 after she participated in a radio show with him. Back then, he was a well-known journalist.
Hulot told BFM-TV ahead of the broadcast of the one-hour special investigation that "in the world we live in, being innocent no longer allows us to sleep peacefully."
"I did not commit these acts. These claims are purely false," he added, stating that there was no proof because the statute of limitations had run out on the events.
The France 2 broadcast also highlighted a 2008 rape complaint against the former minister made by the granddaughter of French President François Mitterrand, 11 years after she claims Hulot raped her.
A French magazine reported the complaint in 2018 when Hulot was still environment minister in Emmanuel Macron's government.