US judge rejects Polanski victim's bid to close case

Los Angeles (AFP) –


A US judge on Friday rejected a bid by a woman Roman Polanski raped as a teenager to close the case, saying the fugitive filmmaker must appear in court for the matter to be resolved.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said in a 10-page ruling that while Samantha Geimer -- who was 13 at the time -- had clearly suffered because of the case, he could not dismiss it "merely because it would be in the victim's best interest."

Polanski, who turned 84 on Friday, fled the United States in 1978 before he could be sentenced after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with Geimer.

The 54-year-old victim, who lives in Hawaii, made an impassioned plea to the judge in June to end the case so she could go on with her life. She said she and her family had been enduring a grueling ordeal for 40 years.

"I would implore you to consider taking action which would finally bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy for myself and my family," she told the judge.

But Gordon said in his ruling that although dismissing the case would help Geimer, "society has an interest in even handed justice, which can be satisfied only by continuing the prosecution in this case."

He added that it was Polanski's refusal to face justice that was responsible for Geimer's continued anguish, rather than the courts.

"The defendant in this matter stands as a fugitive and refuses to comply with court orders," he said. "As eloquently described by Ms Geimer, his conduct continues to harm her and compounds the trauma of the sexual assault committed against her that gave rise to this case."

- 'Insanity beyond belief' -

The Oscar-winning filmmaker's attorney, Harland Braun, hit out at the judge's ruling saying "there's an insanity in this case beyond belief."

"I don't get it," Braun added. "Why can't the system come to grips with a very simple situation?"

Polanski's defense team over the years has argued that the director fled California in 1978 after he learned that the judge overseeing the case at the time was going to scrap his plea deal and send him to prison, possibly for decades.

The director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" was accused of drugging Geimer when she was 13 before raping her at Jack Nicholson's house in Los Angeles in 1977 while the film star was away.

Polanski confessed to statutory rape after a number of more serious charges were dropped, and spent 42 days in custody to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

His defense team maintains that under the plea deal, the 42 days he spent in custody would be the only time he would serve behind bars.

The director -- who is 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 time in prison.

He was hit with fresh sex crime allegations this 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 victimized" 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. Lewis claimed the director "forced himself" upon her just after her 16th birthday.

Polanski's film career has continued to flourish since he fled to France, where many consider him an icon. He has eight Cesars -- the French equivalent of the Oscars -- and a best director Academy Award for Holocaust drama "The Pianist."

While living in the United States, he was married to the actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered in 1969 by members of the Charles Manson family when she was eight months pregnant.