US judge rejects rape victim's request to close 40-year case

Los Angeles judge rejects bid by Polanski's rape victim to have case dismissed.
Ms Samantha Geimer (left) went to Los Angeles Superior Court in June pleading for her case to be resolved, saying she had forgiven director Roman Polanski (above) years ago for raping her.
Ms Samantha Geimer (above) went to Los Angeles Superior Court in June pleading for her case to be resolved, saying she had forgiven director Roman Polanski years ago for raping her.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Samantha Geimer (left) went to Los Angeles Superior Court in June pleading for her case to be resolved, saying she had forgiven director Roman Polanski (above) years ago for raping her.
Ms Samantha Geimer went to Los Angeles Superior Court in June pleading for her case to be resolved, saying she had forgiven director Roman Polanski (above) years ago for raping her.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Woman was 13 when Polanski raped her in 1977; he spent 42 days in custody before fleeing US

LOS ANGELES • A Los Angeles judge on Friday rejected a request by the woman who was raped by director Roman Polanski 40 years ago to have the criminal case against him dismissed.

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski remained a fugitive from justice and that the court could not dismiss a case "merely because it would be in the victim's best interest".

The ruling follows the first appearance in June in the case by Ms Samantha Geimer, who was 13 years old when Polanski sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles in 1977.

The director, who admitted raping Ms Geimer, spent 42 days in pre-trial custody. He then fled the United States, fearing a plea bargain with prosecutors would be overruled and that he would get a lengthy prison term.

The director of mystery film Chinatown, who turned 84 on Friday, has never returned and numerous attempts by his lawyers to strike a deal without him spending more time in prison have failed.

"The defendant in this matter stands as a fugitive and refuses to comply with court orders," Judge Gordon wrote.

Ms Geimer went to Los Angeles Superior Court in June pleading for her case to be resolved, saying she had forgiven Polanski years ago and wanted the case put to rest "as an act of mercy to myself and my family".

Ms Geimer, who has three sons and now lives in Hawaii, said in June that Polanski had apologised to her years ago, but that she continued to remain a victim because of media attention each time there was a new development in the case.

Judge Gordon also rejected a request by Polanski's attorney Harland Braun to unseal testimony about the 1977 plea deal. Mr Braun had hoped to use the testimony to persuade the European authorities to rescind the international arrest warrant against his client. Two recent bids by the US to extradite Polanski, from Switzerland and Poland, have failed.

Mr Braun said Polanski wants to be able to travel freely and to visit the grave in the US of his wife Sharon Tate who was murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.

The director, who is now married to French actress Emmanuelle Seigner with whom he has two children, has been living in France on and off since 1978, and has refused to return without assurances that he would not serve additional jail time.

He was hit with fresh sex crime allegations last week when a woman came forward saying he had assaulted her when she was a minor. The woman, identified only as Robin, told a news conference in Los Angeles she was "sexually victimised" by the French-Polish film director when she was 16, in 1973.

A third woman - British actress Charlotte Lewis - also accused Polanski of assault in 2010. She claimed the director "forced himself" upon her when she was 16.

Polanski's career has flourished despite the notoriety of the Geimer rape case. In 2003, he won an Oscar for directing The Pianist but did not travel to the US to collect it.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'US judge rejects rape victim's request to close 40-year case'. Print Edition | Subscribe