French first lady forwarded Polanski rape accuser's letters to officials

Paris (AFP) –


French first lady Brigitte Macron forwarded two letters written to her by a former model who has accused Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski of raping her as a teenager to two members of the government, her office said Saturday.

Valentine Monnier on Friday became the latest woman to accuse the acclaimed Polish-French film director of rape, telling France's Le Parisien newspaper that the alleged incident occurred in 1975 when she was 18 at Polanski's chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad.

Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Monnier said she had written letters about the alleged rape to Los Angeles police and to the French first lady as well as to the French Culture Minister Franck Riester and Secretary of State for Equality between Men and Women Marlene Schiappa.

Macron's office said they had found the 2018 letter in which Monnier complained that had had no response from Schiappa's office.

It said Monnier had been sent a reply in February last year stating "that Brigitte Macron cannot intervene in judicial processes" and copied that letter to Schiappa.

Monnier "wrote again in 2019 about the financing of a Polanski film by the culture ministry and we responded while copying it to Franck Riester," Brigitte Macron's office said.

Schiappa wrote to Monnier in March last year and hailed her courage "in daring to break the silence of 42 years" and adding that she understood her trauma while underscoring that such things were to be dealt by the judicial system.

Monnier told Le Parisien that the alleged rape was "extremely violent", adding that Polanski "pummelled me until I gave in and then raped me, making me do all sorts of things."

She said she recounted what had happened to her that very night to two women who were also staying in Polanski's chalet: her best friend and another woman who became Polanski's girlfriend for four years.

Both women were contacted by Le Parisien and confirmed Monnier's version.

- Other accusations -

Monnier, who acted in a few films in the 1980s, said she had finally decided to speak out as Polanski's new film about an error of justice was due to come out.

Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime said the director "firmly denies all accusations of rape," adding that the allegations "which date back 45 years have never been reported to judicial authorities".

Polanski has also been accused of sexual assault by others. In 2010, British actress Charlotte Lewis accused him of "sexually abusing" her in 1983 when she was 16.

Another woman, identified only as Robin, accused him in August 2017 of sexual assault when she was 16 in 1973.

In September 2017, former actress Renate Langer filed a new complaint alleging she had been raped by Polanski in 1972 when she was 15.

Polanski, who directed "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown", was accused of drugging a 13-year-old girl before raping her at film star Jack Nicholson's house in Los Angeles in 1977.

He admitted statutory rape after a number of more serious charges were dropped, and spent 48 days in custody to undergo psychiatric evaluation before being released.

In 1978, convinced a judge was going to scrap his plea deal and send him to prison for decades, Polanski fled to France and has been a fugitive from the US justice system ever since despite repeated attempts to have him extradited.

Plans for Polanski to preside over the Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, were abandoned in 2017, amid the fall-out from "Me Too" movement that started with accusations of sexual assault against US producer Weinstein.

Although awarded the 2003 Best Director Oscar for "The Pianist", Polanski was expelled from the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018.