Two months after Roman Polanski’s known victim, Samantha Geimer, defended him in court in Los Angeles, possibly bringing the 40 year-old case closer to an end, another woman comes forward, saying she also has been “victimized” by the French-Polish movie director.
“I was sexually victimized by Roman Polanski at the age of 16, in 1973”, said the now 60 year-old woman during a 20 minutes press conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
The media weren’t given more details of the incident, except that it took place in “Southern California” and that she is “not over it”.
“The day after it happened I did tell one friend what Mr. Polanski had done to me”.
She didn’t report the allegations to anyone else though, even to her family. “I didn’t want my dad to do something that might cause him to go to prison for the rest of his life”, she said, vaguely suggesting a potential murder that her father would have committed if only he had knew.
So she kept it to herself, she said, repressing a tear. About four years later, it’s Samantha Gailey (now Geimer)’s turn. Polanski is arrested and pleads guilty of raping the 13 year-old teenager.
“When (she) became the victim of unlawful sexual intercourse, I considered speaking out to support her in the criminal case brought against him”, the blond woman continued to read from her statement. “Her case didn’t appear to need my support, however, so I stayed quiet”. One more time.
She said that she’s been “satisfied” enough, over all these years, that “this child molester is publicly known for sexually victimizing a 13 year-old girl”.
But when she heard Samantha Geimer, who testified for the first time in the Los Angeles Superior Court in June, “appearing to support Mr Polanski and stating that he has done everything he needed to do”, she was “infuriated”.
“I am speaking out now so that Samantha and the world will know that she is not the only minor Roman Polanski victimized”.
The woman was introduced as only Robin M., because she wants to preserve her privacy. Of course, she is represented by activist lawyer Gloria Allred, who was also the counselor of the second person bringing accusations against Polanski seven years ago, English actress Charlotte Lewis. At the time, I was offered an interview with Lewis, but couldn’t “sell” it to my employers in France, where Polanski has spent most of his life after fleeing the US in 1977. I was later told, among other reasons, that Polanski was friend with one of my employer’s shareholders, so that explained the censorship.
Polanski also became a famous and admired director in Europe, where all the attempts of extradition failed, notably in 2010 and most recently last year. However, this year, while he was supposed to preside the Césars ceremony in Paris – the French Oscars -, he had to step down as the population’s protests were growing and a petition has been circulating. In the United States, he’s still perceived as a fugitive, and his case is still pending since he left to France before being sentenced.
“While we understand that Ms Geimer would like this case to end, Robin and I feel that it is very important that Mr. Polanski returns to court to California to be sentenced”, said Gloria Allred at the conference held in her offices. “Any other defendant who is not rich and famous would be required to be present for a sentencing proceeding on a conviction for a felony committed on a child”.
Polanski drugged and sodomized 13 year-old Samantha at Jack Nicholson’s house in 1977, and was subsequently charged with five offenses (rape by use of drugs, sodomy, perversion, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and providing a controlled substance to a minor). He eventually accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty for one lesser count of “statutory rape” in exchange for the guarantee of a minimal jail time. But as the judge didn’t appear to want to respect the agreement, threatening to send him 50 years behind bars, Polanski decided to flee the country.
Today, his guilty plea is still on the table, which requires sentencing without a trial. If he wants to refuse the sentencing, then he should withdraw his plea, explained Allred. He would have to ask to go to trial on all charges on which he was initially indicted, she added. In that case, Robin M. would be “willing to testify under oath” as a witness, and “other accusers may be called as well”, Allred stated, considering that the facts are legally expired and cannot lead to prosecutions. For that matter, California law changed last year, as governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that ends a statute of limitations on rape cases. It is not retroactive though, which means that the law will only apply to crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2017.
But after years of unwanted media attention and a financial agreement with her attacker, Samantha Geimer repeatedly said she wanted to “move on”.
“Although she does have rights as a victim in a criminal case, and we are glad she exercised her right to be heard as to how the criminal case should be resolved, her feelings are not conclusive as to the outcome”, Ms Allred affirmed. “It is the judge who decides the sentence, not the victim”, she added, refering to “the people of California, whose law is meant to protect children who were violated”.
Allred was the victim of a rape herself, that occured when she was in vacation in Mexico in her twenties, she recounted in her autobiography Fight Back and Win. She was then a teacher in a tough L.A. neighborhood, and decided to become a lawyer. She has since specialized in defending the victims in high-profile cases, generally involving powerful and famous persons (Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, O.J. Simpson, Donald Trump…).