LOS ANGELES (AP) — Roman Polanski’s sexual assault victim made an impassioned plea Friday to end the fugitive director’s four-decade legal saga, saying she felt more abused by the legal justice system than by the man who she said drugged, raped and sodomized her when she was 13.
“The trauma of the ordeal that followed was so great that, you know, the brief encounter with him that evening that was unpleasant just faded and paled,” Samantha Geimer said outside a courtroom in Los Angeles Superior Court. “It just wasn’t as traumatic for me as everybody would like to believe it was.”
Geimer asked Judge Scott Gordon to either dismiss the case outright or sentence the Oscar winner to the six weeks he served in prison during a court-ordered evaluation before he fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.
“I implore you to consider taking action to finally bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy to myself and my family,” Geimer said.
She also called for an end to “a 40-year sentence which has been imposed on the victim of a crime as well as the perpetrator.”
In downplaying the crime and saying she empathized with Polanski, Geimer took a position at odds with some sexual assault victims. Victims and their advocates have been outspoken recently about lenient sentences in sex abuse cases.
Gordon, who praised Geimer for her courage and elegant words, said he would take the matter under consideration.
He has consistently ruled against Polanski’s repeated requests for similar outcomes and has said the director must appear in court to resolve the case.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee, who has insisted Polanski return to court to put the matter to rest, opposed Geimer’s plea. Victims have a wide range of rights but cannot dictate the outcome of cases, she said.
Geimer was critical of the district attorney’s office for its stance and for not investigating allegations that a former prosecutor not assigned to Polanski’s case improperly influenced the original judge in the case.
“If I was standing here saying, ‘Throw the book at him, I want him in jail for life,’ my opinion would count,” Geimer said. “When I’m standing here saying, ‘I’m fine and nothing you can do to him will help me or anybody else,’ suddenly it’s the state not me that counts. It’s a really hypocritical view.”
Polanski contends he is the victim of judicial misconduct because the now-deceased judge who handled the case suggested in private remarks that he would renege on a plea agreement. It called for no more time behind bars for the director after he spent 42 days in a prison undergoing a diagnostic screening.
The hearing Friday was part of an effort by defense attorney Harland Braun to unseal testimony by the now-retired prosecutor in the case, who is believed to have testified in a closed session about backroom sentencing discussions.
Geimer, 54, had long supported Polanski’s efforts to end the case that limits his movements to three European countries, but it was the first time she spoke in favor of him in court.
She said she had suffered four decades of insults and mistreatment and has been hounded by the news media.
The original judge in the case asked if she was part of a mother-daughter prostitution team, the former district attorney suggested she had been paid off and others said she was a lying gold digger and a drug-dealing Lolita who trapped Polanski.
She said does not dismiss Polanski’s responsibility and does not view him as a victim, but has empathy for the way he’s been treated by the legal system and feels his family has suffered.
“I’m standing here saying he’s served his sentence,” Geimer said after the hearing. “He owes me nothing. He owes the state of California nothing except to show up here eventually. I wish he could show up and feel he could be treated fairly, but I don’t know if that will ever happen.”
Polanski has been fighting for years to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant that confined him to his native France, Switzerland and Poland, where he fled the Holocaust.
The warrant prevented him from collecting his Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film “The Pianist.” He was also nominated for 1974’s “Chinatown” and 1979’s “Tess.”
Geimer said she received a letter of apology from Polanski years ago after a documentary came out on the crime and the director’s life.
Polanski, now 83, had been shooting photos of the girl at Jack Nicholson’s compound in the Hollywood Hills when he gave her champagne and part of a sedative pill before raping her, according to grand jury transcripts. Nicholson was not home at the time.
He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in exchange for dropping drug, rape and sodomy charges.
Polanski agreed to pay Geimer over $600,000 to settle a lawsuit in 1993.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of sex abuse, but Geimer went public years ago.
She wrote a memoir titled “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski” four years ago. The cover features a photo shot by Polanski.
In Polanski’s memoir, “Roman” he described the incident as a romantic one and referred to making love with the girl before being interrupted when Anjelica Huston, who had dated Nicholson, returned to the house.
Geimer said she was offended by the way Polanski described it.