US director gets jail term for Paris sex assault

A court in Paris has handed down a 15-month suspended prison sentence to US film director Bob Swaim for sexually assaulting a female student in 2007. Swaim reaffirmed his innocence after the ruling, and vowed to launch an appeal.

US director gets jail term for Paris sex assault
US film director Bob Swaim, in court in Paris on June 27th. He was given a suspended 15-month sentence for sexually assaulting a female former student. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

"I am innocent and will appeal the decision," said Swaim, a 69-year-old director who has lived and worked in France since the late 1960s. He is best known for his 1982 film "La Balance".

The woman he was found guilty of assaulting was 22 at the time, and is also an US national.

She said during the trial that Swaim did not physically force her into a sexual relationship but explained she had "yielded to pressure" after a photo shoot at the director's Paris home in February 2007.

The woman told the court that she had trusted Swaim before the incident. "I really saw him like a father, as a paternal figure. It never even entered my head that he would be interested in someone like me."

She agreed that she had "embarked on something, over which [she] had no control." 

Several friends of the young woman testified that she wasn't her usual cheerful self after the encounter, and her then-boyfriend told the court that she was suddenly very resistant to sexual relations with him.

Swaim, for his part, having initially denied that anything had happened, later said that the student had taken the initiative in the encounter.

He recounted the day in question for the court. "We were joking around, there was a certain atmosphere in the air. Then, she undid my fly, and performed fellatio on me. End of story," he said.

Swaim's lawyers attempted to undermine the credibility of the assault charges, pointing out that the victim had gone on to meet with Swaim several times after the incident, and that she had even taken part in another photo shoot with him.

Swaim, who was also fined €8,000 in damages on Thursday, has vowed to appeal the verdict.

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US warns against travel to France due to ‘very high’ Covid numbers

The United States on Wednesday increased its travel warning to its peak level for France due to its ‘very high’ Covid figures.

US warns against travel to France due to 'very high' Covid numbers
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

“Do not travel to France due to Covid-19,” wrote the US Department of State on its website.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for France due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.”

In practice this will not have a big effect at present, since France allows only essential travel from the USA and arrival numbers are very low.

However French president Emmanuel Macron has said that he hopes to open up travel to vaccinated Americans by the summer.

The State Department’s travel warning is advisory, but travel to a Level 4 destination can invalidate travel insurance. 

Previously, the State Department listed 34 of about 200 countries worldwide with the “Do Not Travel” warning, and has since increased the number to 150 countries based on the recommendations of the CDC.

Other European countries placed on the Level 4 list include Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

The US on Tuesday also extended its travel ban on non-US citizens by 30 days. The restrictions have already been in place for 13 months.

For full details on the rules on travel between France and the USA, click HERE.

READ ALSO When will Americans be able to travel to France again?