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#metoo: Finnish film industry women accuse ex-professor of years of harassment

Some 20 women have accused former film studies professor and film director Lauri Törhönen of harassment during his time at the University of Art and Design Helsinki.

Lauri Törhönen
Lauri Törhönen Image: Irene Stachon / Lehtikuva

Finnish film director Lauri Törhönen has been accused of harassment by multiple women interviewed by Yle. Many of the accusations relate to his time as a professor at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, which was merged to form part of Aalto University in 2010.

Harassment in the Finnish film industry came to light in the wake of the global #Metoo phenomenon last year. In January an advocacy group demanded that public funding be denied production companies which had allowed sexual harassment to take place.

The women interviewed by Yle said that Törhönen had propositioned them during a week-long application process, exposed himself, and asked them to tell ‘erotic’ stories during the admission test.

Törhönen was sacked by the university in 2006, with his employer citing his poor leadership and a breakdown in trust.

Many of the women interviewed by Yle were willing to go public and be quoted on the record. Yle decided to name Törhönen given the volume and consistency of testimony about his behaviour, his position of power in relation to his alleged victims, and his wide-reaching influence within the Finnish film industry.

When contacted by Yle, Törhönen declined to comment on the allegations. In the wake of the allegations Yle's cultural channel Yle Teema cancelled a screening of a Törhönen-directed film scheduled for next Tuesday.

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