NICE, France (Reuters) – A French court sentenced a self-proclaimed "masseur to the stars" to 18 years in prison on Friday for luring over a dozen young women to his apartment then drugging and raping them while they were unconscious.
Thierry Chichportich, 47, boasted of providing massages to some of the most famous names in world cinema during the annual Cannes film festival, filling a large press book with photographs and clippings which he used to attract clients.
The president of the court passed the jury the press book, which contained pictures showing the defendant with such leading stars as Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Monica Bellucci and Penelope Cruz.
The prosecution described Chichportich as "a voyeur, a groper and a rapist." He was accused of sexually abusing at least 14 young women after drugging them and filming the attacks.
Chichportich said he was the victim of a conspiracy and said the encounters had been between consenting adults, although he admitted drugging two of the women "a bit," saying it was "only to film them, to relax them, not to rape them."
His remarks were loudly contested by some of the young women present in the court.
"This story is repulsive," prosecutor Mario Agnetat said. "It’s beyond pornography. Putting victims to sleep to gain a feeling of power over them and satisfy your sexual appetites, it’s beyond all comprehension."