Italy ex-leader Berlusconi backs Deneuve on male courtship

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Italian former Prime Minister and Forza Italia (Go Italy) party leader, Silvio Berlusconi, gestures during the recording of the Italian state television RAI, Porta a Porta (Door To Door) tv talk show in Rome, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME — Italian ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi, known for his "bunga bunga" parties and fondness for younger women, is praising Catherine Deneuve for warning against a courtship backlash following the swell of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men.

In a late-night talk show Thursday, Berlusconi said Deneuve had pronounced "holy" words in saying men should be free to hit on women. Berlusconi joked that usually women hit on him, but that it was only "natural" that women enjoy being courted by men.

He said: "It's not an offense to court women if it stays in the realm of elegance."

Berlusconi has long characterized his sex-fueled "bunga bunga" parties as "elegant soirees." Berlusconi hasn't faced sexual assault allegations; a 2013 conviction for paying for sex with an underage woman was overturned on appeal.

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