A Paris court has acquitted Roman Polanski of defaming a British actor after she accused him of rape.


On Tuesday, a French court cleared French-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski of defaming British star Charlotte Lewis, who accused Polanski of raping her as a teenager.

Polanski, 90, was not in court when the Paris Criminal Court issued its ruling.

Lewis testified in court in March that after speaking out about abuse she had suffered in the 1980s, she became the victim of a “smear campaign” that “nearly destroyed” her life.

Roman Polanski
Polanski is wanted in the United States over the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1977 and faces several other accusations of sexual assault dating back decades and past the statute of limitations – all claims he has rejected. He fled to Europe in 1978

“He raped me,” the 56-year-old actor told the court, explaining why it took her so long to put a name to the assault that happened in Paris when she was 16.

This court, which specializes in media matters, issued a verdict solely on the allegation of defamation, not on the actor’s rape accusation against Polanski.

The filmmaker, whose credits include the Oscar-winning Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist, did not attend any of the trial’s hearings.

Polanski is wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1977, as well as multiple other allegations of sexual assault extending back decades and beyond the statute of limitations, all of which he denies. He emigrated to Europe in 1978.

Lewis accused Polanski of assaulting her “in the worst possible way” when she was 16 years old and visiting Paris for a casting session in 1983. She appears in his 1986 picture, Pirates.

In a 2019 interview with Paris Match magazine, the filmmaker called it a “heinous lie”.

According to Paris Match, he brought out a copy of a 1999 article from the now-defunct British tabloid newspaper News of the World, which cited Lewis as saying: “I wanted to be his lover.”

Lewis has stated that the statements ascribed to her in that interview were inaccurate.

She filed a defamation claim, and the film director was automatically charged under French law.

Stuart White, the author of the 1999 News of the World story to which Polanski referred, also appeared in court.

“The interview I gave to Stuart White was not the interview that appeared in the newspaper,” Lewis explained, adding that she finally discovered the story years later.

White claimed he interviewed Lewis twice after the newspaper paid £30,000 for exclusive rights.

He claimed she consented to a “vice girl” angle in the 1999 story, but he couldn’t recall whether she asked to approve the content before it was published.

In 2010, Lewis stated that she decided to speak forward in response to Polanski’s legal team’s claims that the 1977 rape case was an isolated incidence.

Switzerland, France, and Poland all declined to extradite Polanski to the United States.

Between 2017 and 2019, four more women came forward with allegations that Polanski assaulted them in the 1970s, three of them as minors. He has refuted all claims.

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