Responding to French actress Valentine Monnier’s accusation of rape, a lawyer for Roman Polanski has issued a statement saying that the filmmaker denied the allegations and was considering suing the newspaper that published Monnier’s story.
In an article in Le Parisien on Friday, Monnier alleged that Polanski raped her violently at a ski chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1975. The allegation cannot result in any criminal charges because Switzerland’s 20-year statute of limitations has passed.
In a statement issued to Agence-France Presse on Sunday, Polanski’s French attorney, Hervé Témime, said that the filmmaker “most firmly contests the accusation of rape….We are considering taking legal action against this publication.” Témime said Polanski “will not participate in the media trial, and me neither.”
The lawyer added that the allegation “concerns facts that are 45 years old. Never has this accusation been brought to Polanski’s knowledge, and neither to a judicial institution, except for a letter sent to the California prosecutor two years ago, according to Le Parisien.” Témime said that “it’s impossible after so much time to gather all the necessary elements to conduct a [proper] investigation.”
Polanski has been living in exile in France since fleeing the U.S. in 1978, before he could be sentenced after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Numerous efforts over the years to resolve the case with Los Angeles prosecutors have gone nowhere, as Polanski has refused to return and submit to U.S. jurisdiction.
In spite of the controversy that has surrounded Polanski for the past decades, he was able to get his new film, “An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”), financed mainly out of France with a budget of $21 million, making it one of the country’s most ambitious films this year. But the new allegation by Monnier has cast cloud over the film’s imminent release in France on Wednesday on more than 500 screens. On Sunday, the movie’s leading actor, Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin, canceled an appearance on a primetime newscast to promote the film.
On the critical front, “An Officer and a Spy” has been applauded. It world premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize, and has just garnered four European Film Awards nominations. “An Officer and a Spy” has also been bought by distributors in several territories.