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Roman Polanski Did Not Defame British Actress, French Court Rules

WorldRoman Polanski Did Not Defame British Actress, French Court Rules

A court in Paris ruled on Tuesday that the film director Roman Polanski did not defame Charlotte Lewis, a British actress who has accused him of raping her, by asserting in a 2019 interview that she was a liar.

Delphine Meillet, one of Mr. Polanski’s lawyers, told reporters after the ruling that it was “an extremely important day for the rights” of the director, who is 90. “The question the court was addressing was whether you can defend yourself publicly when you are publicly accused,” Ms. Meillet said. “The answer is yes.”

Ms. Lewis, 56, has accused Mr. Polanski of raping her four decades ago, when she was 16, during a casting session at his home in Paris.

She told reporters at the courthouse on Tuesday that she would appeal the ruling, for which the court did not explain its reasoning. “I feel sad, I feel let down,” she said. But, she added: “For us, it’s not over.”

Mr. Polanski is one of the most prominent men to face accusations of sexism and sexual assault in the French movie industry, which on Tuesday also held the first day of the annual Cannes Film Festival. Several women have publicly accused him of sexual assault, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The judges at the Paris court did not rule on whether Mr. Polanski had sexually assaulted Ms. Lewis — only on whether he had legally overstepped his right to free speech and defamed her by disparaging her account in a 2019 interview with Paris Match, a French magazine.

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