Roman Polanski Accused of 1975 Rape - The New York Times
|The New York Times 09 Nov 2019 at 09:28|
PARIS — A French photographer has accused the director Roman Polanski of violently raping her in 1975 in his ski chalet in Switzerland when she was 18, the sixth woman to publicly accuse Mr. Polanski of sexually abusing her as a teenager.
The director, who is preparing to release a film on Wednesday dealing with themes of injustice, “firmly denied” the latest accusation, his lawyer said.
In a letter published online Friday by the French newspaper Le Parisien, the photographer, Valentine Monnier, 62, said she was breaking 44 years of silence after a recent interview by Mr. Polanski. In it, the director suggested that he was a victim of persecution, like the main subject of his new film, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer wrongly convicted of treason in what remains France’s most notorious miscarriage of justice.
“Is it credible to hear somebody say, ‘I accuse’ when they have branded you and forbidden you, the victim, to accuse him?” Ms. Monnier said in an interview published by the same newspaper.
A lawyer for Mr. Polanski, Hervé Temime, said on Saturday: “For 45 years, these accusations have never been reported to judicial authorities. I strongly deplore their publication a few days before the release of his film.”
Ms. Monnier told Le Parisien that she went to Mr. Polanski’s chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, in the winter of 1975 with friends, but had not known him personally. When the group went skiing, she said, he propositioned her in vulgar terms while they were seated together on a ski lift, and she declined.
Later that evening, after returning to the chalet from dinner, Mr. Polanski called her upstairs, she said. “Life had not yet trained me to be suspicious,” she told the paper. When Ms. Monnier arrived on the top landing, she continued, Mr. Polanski emerged naked and threw himself on her, striking her, tearing off her clothes and then raping her.
“I was totally shocked,” she told the paper. “I weighed 50 kilos. Polanski was small but muscular and at 42 was in the prime of his life. He got the upper hand in two minutes.”
She said she remembered fearing she would die. “I said to myself, this is Roman Polanski. He can’t take the risk that this would be known, so he will have to kill me.”
Mr. Polanski later apologized to her in tears, she said.
Ms. Monnier said she wanted to speak publicly in order to bring an end to “idolizing the guilty ones.”
Mr. Polanski has lived in France since 1978, when he fled the United States before sentencing after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Because the statute of limitations for rape is 20 years in France, her accusation cannot lead to an investigation or prosecution. “I denounce this crime knowing that there can’t be any punishment, in an attempt to end exceptions, impunity,” she said in Le Parisien.
In an email to The New York Times on Saturday, Ms. Monnier declined to comment further.
Le Parisien, reported that it had spoken with members of Ms. Monnier’s entourage, including a close friend, family members and her then-boyfriend, who corroborated her story.
Mr. Polanski’s new film, known in English as “An Officer and a Spy,” is titled “J’Accuse” in French , after the famous open letter in which the writer Émile Zola accused the French establishment of anti-Semitism and deception over the jailing of Dreyfus.
In an interview published in August with a French writer discussing “An Officer and a Spy,” which is scheduled to be released in French theaters in the coming week, Mr. Polanski said: “There are moments of this story that I feel I’ve lived myself.
“Every season there’s a new accusation, a new absurd story from a woman I’ve never seen in my life and who accuses me of things that supposedly happened a half century ago.”
In 2017, a German former actress, Renate Langer, , when she was 15, also in his Gstaad chalet. Swiss prosecutors declined to pursue a rape investigation in that case, citing statute of limitations laws.
Mr. Polanski has also been accused of sexual abuse , who said in 2010 that the director abused her in 1983, when she was 16; and by a woman publicly identified only as Robin , who in 2017 said that he had “sexually victimized” her in 1973, when she was 16.
Also in 2017, an artist, Marianne Barnard, accused Mr. Polanski of molesting her in 1975, when she was 10. The director said at the time that he rejected the “unfounded allegations.”
He remains wanted in the United States over the case involving the 13-year-old, Samantha Geimer, but France does not extradite its citizens. Judges have denied multiple requests from the director to drop the decades-old case.
Feminist groups in France have regularly staged protests against Mr. Polanski, including outside a retrospective of his career at the prestigious Cinémathèque in October 2017.
Although Ms. Monnier first spoke t publicly on Friday, she had long made her story known to those close to her, she told Le Parisien. She said she also written about her accusation to France’s first lady, Brigitte Macron, to the culture minister and to the junior minister for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, in 2018.
Ms. Schiappa, in turn, wrote a letter to Ms. Monnier in March of that year, which The New York Times has obtained.
In the letter, she praised Ms. Monnier for “breaking a 42-year-old silence,” and said she empathized with her pain, adding, “I understand your indignation.”