French justice acquits Roman Polanski for defamation

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French justice acquits Roman Polanski for defamation


A Paris court has acquitted director Roman Polanski of defamation against a British actor who accused him of raping her when she was a teenager.

In 2019, he told Paris Match magazine that Charlotte Lewis lied about being sexually assaulted by him four decades ago.

Ms Lewis, 56, filed a complaint against the 90-year-old filmmaker.

She told the court in March that she had been the victim of a “smear campaign” that had “nearly destroyed” her.

Ms Lewis told the BBC she would appeal the decision.

The court’s verdict relates to the defamation charge, not the rape charge Ms Lewis made against Mr Polanski.

The judges considered that his response was a “value judgment on the fickle character of the complainant”.

They highlighted a “significant gap between the admiration and gratitude towards the director, which she publicly expressed until 2010, and the denunciation of the violent nature of their relationship when she decided to join the conviction against him.

None of the comments contested by the actor were of a “nature likely to undermine the honor and respect of the complainant”, the judges ruled.

Mr. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after admitting to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Several other women have since claimed that Mr. Polanski abused them. He denies all allegations against him.

In 2010, Ms. Lewis accused the director of having assaulted her “in the worst possible way” when she was 16 years old in 1983 in Paris, after she went there for a casting. She later appeared in his 1986 film Pirates.

But in an interview with Paris Match magazine, the French-born filmmaker said it was a “heinous lie”. He did not attend the trial.

Paris Match reported that during the interview he allegedly read a 1999 article in the now-defunct British tabloid News of the World, which quoted Ms Lewis as saying: “I was fascinated by him and wanted to be her lover.”

Ms. Lewis said quotes attributed to her in that interview were not accurate.

She filed a complaint for defamation and the director was automatically charged under French law.

Mr Polanski, known for films such as Chinatown, The Pianist and Rosemary’s Baby, has been the subject of controversy for decades since fleeing the United States.

He has French and Polish nationality and has escaped various extradition attempts by American authorities.

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