French female lawyers have come forward to defend director Roman Polanski in the midst of the controversy surrounding his recent win over the film prize.
114 female lawyers signed a letter published in Le Monde, stating that the director has not been prosecuted since 1977 for allegations of sexual assault, and that the accusations of various women against him do not mean that he is guilty.
It comes after weeks of public debate as to whether the latest film from the 86-year-old director An Officer and a Spy should have been nominated at the Césars, France’s response to the Oscars, where he won the best director.
Polanski pleaded guilty to the legal rape of Samantha Gailey (now Geimer) in Los Angeles when she was only 13 in 1977, and fled the United States to avoid possible imprisonment in 1978.
He continued to direct films in France, and over the years a number of actresses have raised allegations of sexual violence against him, none of which have been prosecuted in court.
114 female lawyers signed a column in the French newspaper Le Monde, where they stated that the Roman Polanski (photo in 2017) had not been prosecuted since 1977 for allegations of sexual assault, and that the accusations of various women against him did not mean that he was guilty
In the letter from Le Monde, the signatories said they were feminists and “lawyers who are viscerally attached to the principles of the law, starting with the presumption of innocence and prescription.”
As “criminal lawyers who witness the pain of victims every day, they added that they see” the violence of an accusation to the same extent. ”
They said that an accusation alone never proves anything, and that if so, anyone could go around to pass on his word as elusive evidence that led to conviction.
“It’s not so much about believing or not believing a victim, but about refusing to leave one accusation as the sole evidence of a crime,” she added, explaining that it would believe any woman claiming it being a victim of a sexual assault would be ‘make her word holy based on feelings or subjectivity, rather than fact.
‘Roman Polanski was the subject of various public allegations, only one of which led to a complaint and which was not prosecuted. He is therefore not guilty of what he has been accused of, “they wrote.
The lawyers’ collective wrote that it was wrong to say that the French justice systematically demonstrated violence against women, or that they did not sufficiently consider their word. Pictured: Polanski at the Cineroman Festival in October 2019 in Nice
Regarding the Samantha Geimer case, in which Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse, the lawyers emphasized that Geimer, now 56, had publicly requested that people stop her case against the director and quoted her as follows:
“If you refuse to forgive a victim and continue to satisfy your selfish need for hatred and punishment, you will only hurt her more.”
They also wrote that a worrying suspicion of guilt is becoming increasingly present in cases of sexual misconduct.
The lawyers’ collective added that they think it is wrong to say that the French judiciary shows systemic violence against women and that their world is not sufficiently taken into account.
Accusations against Roman Polanski
1977: Samantha Geimer
Polanski is arrested for the rape of Samantha Gailey (now Geimer), then 13 years old, and charged with rape by drugs, perversion, sodomy, lustful and voluptuous action on a child under 14 years of age and a controlled substance to a minor.
He initially pleads not guilty but later accepts a plea bargain in which he commits guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse and meets a 90-day psychiatric examination.
In February 1978, for fear of imprisonment, Polanski flees to the United States and leaves for London, where he moves to France, where he has citizenship and cannot be extradited to the US.
2010: Charlotte Lewis
British actress Charlotte Lewis accuses Polanski of raping her at a casting in Paris in 1983, when she was 16. She claimed that Polanski knew she was a minor, but forced herself on her.
August 2017: Robin
In August 2017, a woman identified only as “Robin” came forward and claimed to have been sexually “victimized” by the director when she was 16, in California in 1973.
September 2017: Renate Langer
In September 2017, former German model and actress Renate Langer said that the Swiss police Polanski raped her in Gstaad in 1972.
She claimed that a month later Polanski apologized and offered her a role in his upcoming film, which promised to be professional, but raped her again during filming.
In 2017, she said she had not come forward earlier because it would have given her mother a “heart attack.”
October 2017: Marianna Banard
A month later, in October 2017, the American artist Marianna Banard told The Sun that Polanski attacked her in 1975, when she was ten.
She claimed that her mother took her to a beach in Malibu so that Polanski could take her picture before the director attacked her.
November 2017: five anonymous women through an intermediary
An Israeli ‘feminist militant’ Matan Uziel creates ImetPolanski.com, where testimonies of alleged Polanski victims are collected. A few days later, he claims that five more women have been in contact with allegations of sexual violence.
One of them agreed that her testimony would be shared anonymously. In her testimony, she claims that Polanski raped her in 1976 when she was 16.
November 2017: Mallory Millett
A few days later a woman named Mallory Millet comes forward and claims that she has contacted ImetPolanski, com with her own testimony. She claims that Polanski tried to rap her twice in 1970, when she was 29.
2019: Valentine Monnier
In November 2019, French actress and photo Valentine Monnier told Le Parisien newspaper that Polanski had sexually abused her during a skiing holiday in Gstaad in 1975, when she was 18.
They concluded that as criminal lawyers they would always fight against subjective accusations that almost always lead to lynching.
Several women reported and accused Roman Polanski of having sexually abused them when they were under the age of 18.
However, most of these cases could not be prosecuted under French law, as victims did not raise their allegations until the statute of limitations expired.
Under French criminal law, victims must report their sexual assault within ten years of the assault – or, within twenty years from the age of 18, if the assault occurred when they were younger than 15 years.
The controversy surrounding these allegations escalated when Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” was nominated for various awards at the French Cesar Award, and won three, including the best director, on Friday, February 28.
The actress, who recently revealed that she was sexually assaulted by another director when she was 15, said “Long live peadophilia” on the way to the film award show
The director had decided not to attend the ceremony due to various demonstrations by feminist activists.
The French actress Adele Haenel, who plays the lead in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and recently revealed that she was sexually assaulted by another director when she was 15, saw the room abandoned and said: “long live peadophilia,” after the Polanski victory.
In November, French film actress Valentine accused Monnier Polanski of raping her when she was 18 in a ski chalet.
She told how she was afraid of being killed by the film director after he “raped her” in Gstaad, Switzerland.
In response to the claims, a director lawyer said, “Roman Polanski denies all allegations of rape.”
Mrs. Monnier, now 63, said: “In 1975 I was raped by Roman Polanski. I had no connection with him, neither personally nor professionally, and I hardly knew him.
“It happened extremely violent after we came back to his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, from skiing.
“He hit me, hit me until I surrendered, and raped me and suffered all kinds of vicissitudes. I just turned 18.
She feared ‘I would die’ because the already world-famous Polanski wanted to keep his crime a secret by killing her.
Monnier described the crime of rape as a “time bomb” and said that the “traumatic memory” of what father-of-two Polanski would do to her would never disappear.
She felt guilty about what had happened for decades and was too scared to go to the authorities.
Polanski is said to have apologized in tears of tears, while other guests in the chalet encouraged her to remain silent.