Roman Polanski and the woman he pleaded guilty to raping pose together 45 years later
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a recent one featuring Roman Polanski and his 1977 rape victim is certainly worth even more.
The disgraced "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" director and Samantha Geimer, who Polanski was accused of raping in Los Angeles when she was 13, recently smiled and posed for a photo together, reaffirming her long-held stance in the protracted legal saga that has dogged them both for more than four decades.
Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner on Saturday reposted the photo of the director and Geimer on Instagram on the heels of their recent meeting and interview, which was chronicled by the French publication Le Point this month. The women described themselves as kind of kindred spirits inextricably linked by Polanski and thought it was important to talk in "complete solidarity."
"Thank you Samantha ... Photo credit David Geimer," Seigner wrote Saturday, posting the photo of Samantha Geimer and Polanski. The original image appears to have been first posted on Geimer's private Instagram account and was taken by her husband, David Geimer.
Polanski, 89, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Geimer (née Samantha Gailey) in the 1970s when he was 43. He fled to France from the U.S. more than four decades ago after pleading guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful intercourse with a minor, following allegations he drugged and assaulted her at the home of actor Jack Nicholson. He fled while still on probation and before a verdict was delivered.
"Let me be very clear: What happened with Polanski was never a big problem for me,” Geimer told Seigner in a translated version of the interview obtained Monday by The Times. “I didn’t even know it was illegal, that someone could be arrested for it. I was fine, I’m still fine. The fact that we’ve made this [a big deal] weighs on me terribly. To have to constantly repeat that it wasn’t a big deal, it’s a terrible burden.”
Geimer told Seigner that she "was not a child at 13" and said what happened between her and Polanski wasn't that shocking because many people were having an illicit relationships with minors at the time.
"At the time, a whole bunch of teenage girls would have dreamed of ending up in Jack Nicholson's house to have sex with the first guy they could get their hands on," Geimer said.
The filmmaker was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 but a Swiss court ultimately rejected the U.S.'s extradition request and released him. Seigner said that "things changed completely" after that. Polanski has not yet returned to the U.S.
"From there, everyone started talking about 'rape, rape, rape,'" Seigner said. "Except that word never struck me as appropriate for Roman, because I know him so well; I know he is incapable of violence. So yes, after that, the situation became horrible, I was ashamed and I didn't want to find myself facing people who thought I could live with this kind of guy."
In response, Geimer said the goal was to "shame" and "humiliate" Seigner. She told Seigner that the 2009 extradition attempt was "so unfair and so in opposition to justice."
"Everyone should know by now that Roman has served his sentence. Which was … long, if you want my opinion," she said in the translated article, adding that the filmmaker had "paid his debt to society" already.
Even at the height of the #MeToo movement, which she described as "really, really retrograde," Geimer urged Los Angeles authorities to end the drawn-out case for both their sake in 2017. In recent years, she also called for additional testimony in the case to be made public.
Last summer, unsealed court transcripts revealed that a Los Angeles County judge intended to sentence Polanski to only 90 days in prison for sexually abusing Geimer, bolstering the director’s chances of terminating his status as a fugitive.
The mother of three grown sons also opened up about the case in her 2013 memoir, “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.” She recounted her version of the alleged events in the book and said she feels more wounded by what she calls the “victim industry”: the lawyers, judge and journalists whom she feels sensationalized her case for their own interests.
“You shouldn’t be able to make what happened to me worse so it’s more interesting,” Geimer told The Times then. “You’re put upon to feel bad and be a victim so other people can use you as they see fit.”
She reiterated that view with Seigner.
"I persevere, but the fact is people don't want to hear the truth when it doesn't fit their purpose," she said.
Geimer said that she was not very optimistic about the media's perspective changing.
"I've been trying to get people to listen to me for a long time. And it looks like things are only getting worse," she said, to which Seigner replied, "We have to change things, it has to be. We are two now. we are stronger."
Polanski has continued to direct movies regularly to critical praise, but over the years at least six other women have accused him of sexually abuse, with most of them saying the abuse happened when they were minors. None of those allegations resulted in criminal charges, and through his attorneys he denied any wrongdoing in those cases.
The filmmaker, who has been nominated for five Academy Awards, was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and stripped of his directing Oscar for "The Pianist" in 2018. His case, along with those of twice-convicted movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, has repeatedly been cited during the academy's recent crackdowns on its members' conduct.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.