Roman Polanski Acquitted in French Defamation Trial

Roman Polanski Acquitted in French Defamation Trial

A French court has acquitted filmmaker Roman Polanski of defamation charges brought by British actor Charlotte Lewis, who’d claimed that he raped her when she was a child, the New York Times has reported.

Lewis, now 56, had accused the now 90-year-old filmmaker of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, during a casting session at his Paris home. The French court was not ruling on that accusation. Instead, it was dealing with a 2019 interview with French magazine Paris Match in which Polanski had dismissed Lewis’ accusation of being a “heinous lie.” The court ruled on whether Polanski had overstepped the bounds of free speech by dismissing her account of the alleged events.

The trial kicked off in March, when the Franco-Polish filmmaker was sued by Lewis, who claimed he defamed her in the interview. Lewis first came forward with her allegations against Polanski in 2010.

During her defamation case testimony, Lewis, who was cast by Polanski in 1986 film “Pirates,” said that she had not filed a rape complaint against Polanski as the statute of limitations had expired.

Polanski was not present at the court hearing on Tuesday.

Polanski has been accused of sexual assault by several women, beginning in 1977 when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. He entered a plea bargain and plead guilty to one charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, later fleeing the U.S. and continuing his career in Europe. He remains a fugitive from the U.S. legal system. In 2018, Polanski was removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. However, in March 2023, Gailey stated in an interview with Polanski and his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, that she has forgiven him and “anyone who thinks that he deserves to be in prison is wrong.” In 2019, Polanski was also accused of rape by former actress Valentine Monnier. The alleged rape occurred in 1975 when she was 18. Polanski has denied all accusations against him, including those of Monnier and Lewis.

Previously, a Santa Monica judge set an August 2025 trial date for a rape lawsuit against Polanski. The plaintiff alleged that Polanski raped her in 1973, when she was underage, at his home in Benedict Canyon. According to her lawsuit, she had met him at a party months earlier. Polanski invited her to dinner at Le Restaurant on La Brea Avenue, gave her shots of tequila, and then drove her to his house, where she passed out on his bed, the suit states.

According to the suit, Polanski ignored her pleas and proceeded to rape her. He then drove her home. That was the last time she saw the director, the lawsuit states. Polanski would not have to attend the civil trial in person, but could appear via live video feed if needed for testimony.

Related Articles