Roman Polanski charged in France for alleged defamation of accuser

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Roman Polanski.
Roman Polanski.
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

  • Roman Polanski has been charged with defamation.
  • This comes after the filmmaker described a British actor who accused his of sexual abuse as a liar.
  • The 88-year-old is wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

French magistrates have charged veteran Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski with defamation after he described as a liar a British actor who accused him of sexual abuse, his lawyer said Friday.

Polanski is wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and has also faced accusations of other sexual assaults, including by British actor Charlotte Lewis.

Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime told AFP that the pressing of charges was "automatic" in defamation cases and welcomed the prospect of trial as the way of bringing out of the truth.

"What is not heard in the media can now come out in court," he said, adding that his client was "perfectly calm" about the case.

However, a trial could take months or even years to come to court.

Lewis' lawyer Benjamin Chouai said that in a long interview published by Paris Match in 2019, Polanski dismissed the actor as a "liar" and a "fabulist".

Lewis, born in 1967, had starred in Polanski's 1986 film Pirates. In 2010 she had accused him in Los Angeles of sexual abuse in his Paris apartment in the 1980s when she was 16.

In his Paris Match interview, Polanski referred to quotes attributed to Lewis in a 1999 interview with the British tabloid News of the World expressing her desire for him.

But the actor in 2010 said the quotes attributed to her in the interview were not accurate.

French stars, including celebrated actor Adele Haenel, walked out of France's annual celebration of cinema, Les Cesars, in protest last year after Polanski was awarded for his film An Officer and a Spy.

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