Roman Polanski on Trial in France

( – A lot of notable names in Hollywood have been accused of some of the most heinous crimes. Harvey Weinstein, once a well-touted film producer, was convicted of various sexual offenses and sentenced to 16 years in prison, and Bill Cosby, a comedian, was sentenced to three to 10 years before his conviction was overturned. Another notable person is going on trial, this time for defamation charges.

Roman Polanski, a French-Polish film director, stands accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1983. The victim, Charlotte Lewis, says after she came forward with the allegations, she was the subject of a “smear campaign” that “nearly destroyed [her] life.” She claims Polanski called her a liar and used tabloid articles that misquoted her to make his case. One of them was from News of the World, a now-defunct tabloid newspaper that was often accused of making up quotes and libel. The author of that article, Stuart White, has been named as a witness for the defense.

The quote Polanski used against Lewis reportedly said she was enthralled with him and desired to be his lover or mistress. The woman has since sued for defamation, saying the article was inaccurate and his using it against her was the final straw. Under French law, Polanski was charged automatically.

Polanski’s trial started on March 5, but the producer, who is 90 years old, was not in the courtroom. Lewis did appear, however. Speaking with AFP, her attorney said that “discrediting and defaming (people) is an integral part of the Polanski system,” and the alleged victim is speaking out “very bravely” against it. The producer’s attorney remains steadfast that there was no defamation. Rather, Polanski was exercising “the right to defend himself publicly” in the interview.

This is not the first time Polanski has been accused of sexual assault. Several women have come forward, alleging he abused them, many as minors. In the US, he’s wanted on charges of forcing himself on a 13-year-old. When he learned a judge wouldn’t accept his plea deal, he fled, and several countries have denied the US’ request for extradition.

Polanski maintains that he is innocent.

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