Roman Polanski Did Not Defame British Actress, French Court Rules - The World News

Roman Polanski Did Not Defame British Actress, French Court Rules

A court in Paris on Tuesday ruled that the film director Roman Polanski did not defame Charlotte Lewis, a British actress who has accused him of raping her, by asserting in a 2019 interview that she was a liar.

Mr. Polanski, 90, is one of the most prominent men to face accusations of sexism and sexual assault in the French movie industry, which on Tuesday also held the first day of the annual Cannes Film Festival.

Several women have publicly accused Mr. Polanski of sexual assault, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Ms. Lewis, 56, says that Mr. Polanski raped her four decades ago, when she was 16, during a casting session at his home in Paris.

The judges at the Paris court did not rule on whether Mr. Polanski had sexually assaulted Ms. Lewis — only on whether he had legally overstepped his right to free speech and defamed her by disparaging her account in a 2019 interview with Paris Match, a French magazine.

Mr. Polanski has never stood trial for sexual assault in France, including in Ms. Lewis’s case. In her testimony for the defamation case, Ms. Lewis said that she had not filed a rape complaint against Mr. Polanski because the statute of limitations had expired.

In the hearing, a prosecutor had expressed doubts about Ms. Lewis’s defamation lawsuit — suggesting that Mr. Polanski had merely expressed an opinion in response to public accusations against him — and did not push for a ruling against the film director. Unlike in the United States, where such cases are often settled out of court, such defamation cases are almost always automatically sent to court in France.

In the 2019 interview, Mr. Polanski called Ms. Lewis’s allegations an “odious lie” and cited past interviews that she gave to British and French publications in which she was quoted speaking favorably about Mr. Polanski, who had cast her in his 1986 movie “Pirates.” Ms. Lewis has disputed the accuracy of some of those interviews.

Ms. Lewis told the court in March that Mr. Polanski’s comments were part of a smear campaign that had “nearly destroyed” her life after her accusations of rape, which she first made publicly in 2010 and which she repeated in her testimony.

Mr. Polanski, who did not attend the court proceedings, is a native of France and moved back to the country in 1978 when he fled the United States before sentencing after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer. He remains wanted in the United States over the case, but France does not extradite its citizens.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *