(CBS) – A French woman in her early 60s has claimed she was violently raped at age 18 by Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski. In a Friday story published in the French newspaper Le Parisien, the woman claimed that Polanski raped her in 1975 at his skiing chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Polanski’s lawyer, Hervé Temime, told Le Parisien the 86-year-old Polanski “firmly contests” the allegation. Temime could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press. Polanski’s accuser, Valentine Monnier, told the French newspaper that the impending release of Polanski’s latest film “J’accuse” (“An Officer and a Spy”) prompted her to speak out.
AP does not normally disclose the identities of alleged rape victims, but Monnier gave her consent to be identified by Le Parisien after she contacted the paper in mid-September. The paper said she had previously written letters to the Los Angeles police, French first lady Brigitte Macron, and others. One of several who responded was Marlène Schiappa, France’s junior minister for gender equality, who noted the case was too old for judicial action.
Polanski has been living in France ever since he fled the United States in 1978, to avoid sentencing after pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. The statute of limitations in France for rape is 20 years.
“Rape is a time bomb,” Monnier, an actress and former model, told Le Parisien. “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,” she continued, according to a translation from Variety.
Monnier, now 62, told the newspaper that the alleged episode occurred when a friend invited her to go skiing and stay in Polanski’s chalet.
“I had no links with him,” Monnier said, according to The Guardian. “Neither personal nor professional, and hardly knew him.”
According to Monnier, after a night run down the slopes, she and Polanski returned to the chalet. She said that he called her up to his room after dinner, and that when she arrived, he was nude. She said he struck her, disrobed her, tried to make her swallow a pill and raped her.
Monnier said she feared for her life because “he can’t take the risk that this becomes known.” But he also apologized immediately afterwards and cried, Le Parisien quoted her as saying.
Monnier said she “took refuge” with an acquaintance of Polanski — and contacted him for the first time a month ago, Le Parisien reported. The newspaper met with the man, who asked to remain anonymous, in his lawyer’s office.
“I asked Valentine if she wanted to go to the police … In shock, she didn’t know what to do,” the paper quoted the man as saying. He said he believed her story.
Another man contacted by Monnier and by Le Parisien, former movie producer John Bentley, said he remembered her well, according to the paper. But he also said he not recall her saying that she had been raped, “or I would have done something.”
Monnier said publicity surrounding the film revived the “traumatic memory” of her encounter with Polanski. In particular, she took issue with Polanski comparing himself in an interview to Alfred Dreyfus — the historical subject of “An Officer and a Spy,” who was falsely accused of spying — to what he has been subjected to over the American case.
“Is this tenable, under the pretext of a film, the cover of history to hear ‘I accuse’ from the man who marked you like with iron when it is forbidden for you, the victim, to accuse him?” the paper quoted Monnier as saying.
“An Officer and a Spy” premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August, and is scheduled to be released in France next week.
Monnier is the fourth woman to accuse Polanski of sexual assault since the initial statutory rape claim. In 2017, Polanski was accused of raping former German actress Renate Langer in Gstaad in 1972, when she was 15.