French court acquits director Polanski of defaming British actress

A French court on Tuesday acquitted French-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski of defaming British actor Charlotte Lewis after she accused him of raping her when she was a teenager.

Polanski, 90, was not in court for the verdict at the Paris criminal court.

Lewis told the court in March that she became the victim of a “smear campaign” that “nearly destroyed” her life after she spoke up about abuse that took place in the 1980s.

“He raped me,” the 56-year-old actor told the court, explaining it had taken her time to put a name on the incident that occurred in Paris when she was 16.

The verdict by this court, which specialises in media cases, relates strictly to the charge of defamation and not over the actor’s rape accusation against Polanski.

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

Polanski is wanted in the United States over the 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.

The France-born filmmaker retorted that it was a “heinous lie” in a 2019 conversation with Paris Match magazine.

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