John Galliano's Trial Begins Today
Fashion designer and enfant terrible John Galliano’s trial for making anti-Semitic comments and racial slurs against patrons at a Parisian café in February, and a separate incident last October, began on Wednesday afternoon at the Palais de Justice in Paris. If found guilty, Galliano could face a six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to 22,000 euros ($31,517).
Galliano’s arrest led to him being fired as Creative Director from the fashion house, Dior, and the discontinuation of his namesake label.
Galliano, 50, who reportedly has been dealing with multiple addictions, including to alcohol, Valium and sleeping pills, is expected to claim that his addictions led him to lose all self-control, and that he was not responsible for his actions. Since the incident, Galliano has enrolled himself in rehab, and has also apologized numerous times. He has repeatedly claimed that he is neither racist nor an anti-Semite.
The lawyer for one of Galliano's two accusers, museum curator Geraldine Bloch, 35, said she would seek symbolic damages of one euro and publication of the court's decision in Elle, Vogue and French daily Le Figaro. Her lawyer said that Bloch was not interested in Galliano’s money, but simply wanted him to acknowledge his behavior and repent.
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While the trial is open to the public, there will be no jury. Galliano will be tried by a panel of three judges. The proceedings are expected to last up to five hours, although the verdict may not be revealed until September.
On February 24, 2011, Galliano allegedly targeted Bloch at the La Perle Café in the Marais district of Paris. He “pulled at her hair, made fun of her 'revolting' eyebrows, and derided her 'low-end boots and low-end thighs,'” according to the police dossier. He also allegedly called her a “dirty Jew,” saying that her family was probably “gassed” by Hitler, whom he said he “loved.” When the man with Bloch, Philippe Virgitti, 41, came to her defense, Galliano allegedly called him a “f–king Asian bastard” and a “dirty Asian s–t.” All of this was recorded by two women sitting nearby on a mobile phone camera, but since they did not file a complaint, the video will not be used as evidence, and only the testimonies of those present will be admissible, according to The Telegraph.
However, this presents new problems. The two women who were sitting next to him during the February incident have said they did not hear him say anything anti-Semitic, while two friends of the plaintiff have confirmed her version of the events.
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I find it annoying that whenever a celebrity says something at all offensive, like Galliano or Tracy Morgan, the instant reaction from critics and bystanders is that they should be fired. Of course, the things that both men said are disgusting and unacceptable, but Morgan for example is merely an entertainer who took his act a little too far and has since apologized for it. In the case of Galliano, who claims that drugs and alcohol blurred his memory of the alleged event, he is a truly gifted artist who was highly respected by the fashion community. He even got treatment and apologized for his actions. What more do people want? It's a shame that stupid mistakes like these lead to artists' downfalls.