Fashion designer John Galliano was convicted on Thursday of hurling anti-Semitic insults in a Paris bar in two separate outbursts that cost him his job at the haute couture house of Christian Dior.
The British-born designer was given a suspended fine of $8,400. While he was not required to pay the fine, the conviction leaves him with a criminal record.
Galliano escaped a possible prison sentence after the panel of judges were told he had apologized to the victims of his insults, had “recognized he had a problem” with alcohol and prescription medication and had undergone treatment for his addictions.
The court declared it believed the designer was “generally, neither racist nor anti-Semitic and did not deserve a prison term.”
The designer claimed he had been under the influence of alcohol and prescribed medication at the time of the outbursts – one in October 2010 and a second in February of this year – and could not remember the incidents. After his arrest, the British tabloid newspaper The Sun posted a video on its website showing a separate incident with Galliano telling a customer in a Paris cafe: “I love Hitler.”
At his trial in June, Galliano admitted being addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills and valium. After he was sacked from his job as creative director at Dior in March following his arrest, he spent two months undergoing treatment in the United States.
Galliano was not in the Paris court on Thursday for the verdict. He was found guilty of making “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” and declared to have had “sufficient awareness of his actions” to know what he was doing at the time of the incidents, despite his addiction and his fragile state. But the judges took into account that he apologized to the plaintiffs during the June trial and noted the “values of tolerance” in his work.
He was ordered to pay $23,200 in legal fees to the complainants — three individuals and five anti-racism associations — plus a symbolic one euro ($1.40) in damages to each of them.
Galliano’s lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, said only that his client is “looking forward to the future” and “will continue to care for himself.”
Willsher is a special correspondent.