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High Court to Hear John Galliano Case

The fallen, ex-Christian Dior design director has been charged with public insult by three people.

PARIS — The High Court here is expected on May 12 to set John Galliano’s trial date. The fallen, ex-Christian Dior design director has been charged with public insult by three people — Géraldine Bloch, Philippe Virgiti and an anonymous woman — who allege Galliano hurled racist and anti-Semitic remarks at them in a Paris bar.

This story first appeared in the March 11, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Last week, Dior initiated termination proceedings in the wake of the charges and after an explosive video whirled through cyberspace depicting Galliano saying, in a slurred voice, “I love Hitler.”

Meanwhile, one of the designer’s accusers expressed remorse in an interview published Thursday in French daily Le Parisien. Identified simply as Philippe, the man stands by his complaint but says he does not believe Galliano to be racist or anti-Semitic.

“Today, I am convinced that he didn’t really believe what he was saying. Since this all happened, I have enquired about his work and saw that he is somebody who promoted difference and who mixed cultures in his fashion shows,” the man is quoted as saying. “I believe, above all, that he is very sick and was just out to provoke.”

The interviewee goes on to say he has no choice but to stand by his complaint now that the “legal machine” is in motion. “For me, it was simply an argument in a bar. John Galliano does not deserve this. I do not want him to be destroyed like that,” he added.

According to a source, Virgiti, following a meeting on Feb. 28 with Bloch and Galliano at the police station in Paris’ third arrondissement, decided to drop his complaint against the designer. However, Virgiti returned to the police the next morning to reinstate it.

Contacted on Monday, Galliano’s lawyer Stéphane Zerbib said Virgiti’s comments in Le Parisien signaled a “positive” development for Galliano, but that he could not comment on what potential impact they might have on the case.

Zerbib declined to comment on whether Galliano plans to pursue his claim of defamation, insult and menace filed against Bloch and Virgiti.

Galliano is said to have checked into a rehabilitation center in Arizona.

The penalty in France for insult against people due to their origin, belonging or not belonging to a religion, race or ethnicity is six months imprisonment and a fine of 22,500 euros, or $31,271 at current exchange, according to the French prosecutor.