PARIS — John Galliano’s battle to fend off allegations he uttered anti-Semitic and racial slurs grew tougher Monday after a second complaint was filed with Paris police — and an amateur video circulated online in which an apparently inebriated Galliano appears to say, “I love Hitler.”
The escalating crisis is fast becoming a media circus and a public relations nightmare, ratcheting up the pressure on Christian Dior, which suspended Galliano of his duties Friday pending the outcome of a police inquiry.
Galliano’s arrival at the police station of Paris’ third arrondissement on Monday to meet his accusers unleashed pandemonium among photographers, but the afternoon concluded without immediate word if the case will advance to the courts.
Dressed in a dark coat and a broad, black felt hat bearing a sprig of fresh flowers, Galliano entered the police station with his head bowed. The designer had been summoned by the Paris public prosecutor to talk with Géraldine Bloch and her companion, Philippe Virgiti, who filed charges Thursday following an incident that night at La Perle cafe, where the designer is alleged to have hurled anti-Semitic, racial and other insults at them.
Police sources, speaking of the incident, said Galliano, who was briefly detained afterward, was inebriated, with an alcohol reading of 1.01 milligrams of alcohol per liter of exhaled air. Galliano claims he never uttered any racist or anti-Semitic slurs, furnished witness statements to back his case and subsequently filed a claim of defamation, insult and menace against Bloch and Virgiti.
The designer was also heard Monday regarding a second, separate complaint filed to Paris police by an unidentified woman on Saturday. It concerns an incident that reportedly took place at La Perle in October 2010, during which Galliano allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks.
On Monday, journalists had to wait five hours in the cold until Galliano finally exited the police station with his lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib. Chaos erupted. The two men ignored questions reporters shouted at them as they were bundled into a car.
According to a spokeswoman from the prosecutor’s office, the French legal process typically involves an ongoing police inquiry, including interviews of more witnesses. She said that step could last through the end of this week. Proceedings might then be passed to the prosecutor’s office, which would determine if the infraction claims are sound. Should the prosecutor’s office decide there is a case to be tried, it might go to court or be decided in an out-of-court settlement, among numerous possibilities.
“I’m not sure what will be decided.…If it ever does go to court, it could take weeks, maybe even months,” she said.