Director Roman Polanski to face trial in France for alleged defamation

The Paris court order did not specify a trial date for Polanski, who was charged in October last year. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS – Veteran Franco-Polish film-maker Roman Polanski has been ordered to stand trial in France over his alleged defamation of a British actress who accused him of sexual abuse, a source close to the case said on Wednesday.

The Paris court order did not specify a trial date for Polanski, 89, who was charged in October 2021.

He has faced a series of sex assault claims during his career, though he has never stood trial in France over them.

The defamation case was filed by Charlotte Lewis, 55, who starred in Polanski’s 1986 film Pirates.

In 2010, she had accused him in Los Angeles of sexual abuse at his Paris apartment in the 1980s, when she was 16.

Polanski dismissed Lewis as a “liar” and a “fabulist” in a long interview with the Paris Match magazine in 2019, pointing to quotes attributed to her in a 1999 interview with the British tabloid News of the World, expressing her desire for him.

Lewis claims the quotes were not accurate.

Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime told AFP in October 2021 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.

The director is wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and has faced accusations of other sexual assaults, which he has denied.

In 2019, French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in his Swiss chalet in 1975 when she was 18 and working as a model and actress, saying he tried to give her a pill as he beat her into submission.

His star has also dimmed in the wake of the MeToo movement that rocked Hollywood. French stars such as celebrated actress Adele Haenel walked out of Les Cesars, France’s annual celebration of cinema, in 2020 after Polanski was awarded for his film An Officer And A Spy. AFP

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.