Roman Polanski Acquitted of Defamation in Case Brought by British Actress

The “Chinatown” director had called the woman who accused him of raping her decades ago a liar in a 2019 interview

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Roman Polanski did not defame a British actress who accused him of raping her decades ago, a Paris court ruled Tuesday, according to media reports.

The “Chinatown” director was publicly accused by Charlotte Lewis, now 56, who said Polanski raped her during a casting session when she was 16 at his Paris home. He denied any wrongdoing and called her a liar in a 2019 interview.

A panel of French judges on Tuesday did not rule on the validity of her assault claim, but did decide Polanski, now 90, did not overstep his right to free speech by disparaging her account, the New York Times reported.

Polanski never stood trial for Lewis’ accusations; the actress, who appeared in Polanski’s 1986 film “Pirates,” testified in the defamation matter that she had not filed a complaint because the French statute of limitations had expired.

Polanski called her allegations, first made in 2010, an “odious lie.” The French legal system tends to deal with defamation claims in criminal courts, unlike in the United States, where such cases are almost always heard as civil matters or settled.

Polanski was not present at court. He has remained in his native France since 1978 when he fled the United States, where he pleaded guilty to raping Samantha Geimer, who was 13 at the time. He has remained a fugitive from U.S. justice, as France does extradite its citizens.

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