A French actress accused director Roman Polanski on Friday of raping her at a ski chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1975.
Valentine Monnier told Le Parisien that the director violently raped her when she was 18 years old. The publication also spoke with several people who offered corroboration, saying she had told them of the incident shortly afterward.
Polanski is not facing any legal action in France over this alleged rape since the country has a 20-year statute of limitations. But Monnier said she was moved to speak out now due to the release of Polanski’s latest film, “An Officer and a Spy” (“J’Accuse”), which hits theaters in France next week, where Gaumont will give it a wide release. The movie world premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize and earned mostly positive reviews.
“Rape is a time bomb,” she told the publication. “The memory does not fade. It becomes a ghost and it follows you, and it changes you insidiously.”
“I denounce this crime knowing that there can’t be any punishment, in an attempt to end exceptions, impunity. Public figures are being considered as models. By idolizing the guilty ones, we prevent people from realizing the serious consequences of their acts,” added Monnier.
Polanski has been living in exile in France since fleeing the U.S. in 1978, before he could be sentenced on a charge of raping 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.
Monnier told Le Parisien that she didn’t know Polanski personally when she agreed to go skiing at his chalet with a group of friends in the winter of 1975. After dinner one evening, she said Polanski called her upstairs. “Life had not trained me to be suspicious,” she told the paper. When she got upstairs, she said Polanski was naked. He attacked her, hit her and ripped off her clothes, before raping her, she claims. She also said he tried to force a pill down her throat.
She told the publication she remembers being afraid of dying. “I told myself: It’s Roman Polanski, he can’t risk this being known, so he’ll have to kill me.”
Polanski’s French attorney, Hervé Témime, told the paper that the filmmaker strongly denies the allegations. Témime said he deplored the publication of the allegations — 44 years after the fact — on the eve of the release of Polanski’s film.
The selection of Polanski’s film at Venice and its subsequent win had sparked a backlash, spurring Samantha Geimer, the woman Polanski raped in 1975 when she was 13, to react with a tweet congratulating the helmer.
“For all those who insult, degrade and use me, who tweet about my statutory rape as if it is porn, excited to use vulgar words, excited by your hatred. Congratulations to Roman,” wrote Geimer.
Polanski himself had reacted to the backlash in an interview published in the press notes of “An Officer and a Spy” which triggered even more criticism. Comparing himself to his film’s protagonist, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the French-Jewish officer who was unfairly accused of spying for Germany in the late 1890s, Polanski said “I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done.”