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September 28th, 2009
07:45 PM ET

Polanski Victim: Judge the movie, not the man

Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate are pictured together in London in the 1960s.
Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate are pictured together in London in the 1960s.

Editor's Note: This article written by Roman Polanski's victim was published on Feb. 23, 2003 - just days before the Academy Awards where the fugitive filmmaker earned Best Director honors  for "The Pianist." Polanski was arrested over the weekend in Switzerland and could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges in the case.

Samantha Geimer

For the Los Angeles Times

I met Roman Polanski in 1977, when I was 13 years old. I was in ninth grade that year, when he told my mother that he wanted to shoot pictures of me for a French magazine. That's what he said, but instead, after shooting pictures of me at Jack Nicholson's house on Mulholland Drive, he did something quite different. He gave me champagne and a piece of a Quaalude. And then he took advantage of me.

It was not consensual sex by any means. I said no, repeatedly, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. I was alone and I didn't know what to do. It was scary and, looking back, very creepy. Those may sound like kindergarten words, but that's the way it feels to me. It was a very long time ago, and it is hard to remember exactly the way everything happened. But I've had to repeat the story so many times, I know it by heart.

We pressed charges, and he pleaded guilty. A plea bargain was agreed to by his lawyer, my lawyer and the district attorney, and it was approved by the judge. But to our amazement, at the last minute the judge went back on his word and refused to honor the deal.

Worried that he was going to have to spend 50 years in prison - rather than just time already served - Mr. Polanski fled the country. He's never been back, and I haven't seen him or spoken to him since.

Looking back, there can be no question that he did something awful. It was a terrible thing to do to a young girl. But it was also 25 years ago - 26 years next month. And, honestly, the publicity surrounding it was so traumatic that what he did to me seemed to pale in comparison.

Now that he's been nominated for an Academy Award, it's all being reopened. I'm being asked: Should he be given the award? Should he be rewarded for his behavior? Should he be allowed back into the United States after fleeing 25 years ago?

Here's the way I feel about it: I don't really have any hard feelings toward him, or any sympathy, either. He is a stranger to me.

But I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me or what he did to me. I don't think it would be fair to take past events into consideration. I think that the academy members should vote for the movies they feel deserve it. Not for people they feel are popular.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. judy Best

    he has not paid his debt to society and that is the bottom line....what he does for a living, how well he does it, the tragedies of his life or where he's been hiding in plain view have no bearing on the case...put him away and end the circus!!!!

    September 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
  2. Theresa, Des Moines

    He is a child molester who has evaded the law for over 30 years. I feel bad for the girl turned woman who has had to deal with all of this.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    The question of Polanski's punishment and the judging of his film are two different instances. His film should be judged on its own merits while Polanski should be judged in court according to criminal law.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  4. Edie Eader

    Polanski, I feel that what he did was wrong, but his victim seems to have forgiven him. She probably was an ambitious child (and maybe her parents were ambitious as well) who wanted to “make it” in Hollywood. (Think about the precocious young women today who are over the tabloids to garner publicity)
    Where were her parents? Why were they not with her when she was doing a photo shoot at the age of 13?
    I think this latest fiasco is victimizing the victim again who has apparently moved on with her life. We all have horrible things that happen to us as children but hopefully we do move on.
    Polanski has made some great movies that would not have been made if he had received the 50 years the judge wanted to give him after reneging on plea deal that had been made by all the parties involved. Shame on the judge.
    Finally, I am sure she is not the first nor last victim of such behavior, we just do not hear about it.

    September 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  5. Dianna

    Roman Polanski committed a horrid sexual crime against a child. And he has not had to pay for it. I have no sympathy for him. I don't care how many movies he makes. He is a child molester.

    September 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  6. Kate Sim

    Wow, it takes a lot to say something like that

    September 28, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  7. Victoria Alameda

    I am sorry for the young girl who lost her inocents at a hand of a creep. And I am sorry for the adult women who keeps having to deal with the creeps actions.

    However had he not fleed and stayed away this would already be handled.

    He would not be up for and academy award.

    So while I feel for her I think Roman Polanski is the one who to blame. He did not except the responsiblity for his actions and as a consiquence has cause continual pain.

    September 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  8. Robert Brady

    I think that Mr. Polanski's film should be given no consideration, without respect of his talent or time. He should be ignored as he has ignored justice through the last 20 plus years.

    Not much different than a felon voting.

    September 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Anna

    If I understand, having this story in the headlines again, only opens the wounds.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    September 28, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  10. Heather,ca

    I knew this was going to get posted after his arrest. I actually had the chance to watch the documentary about what happened and all the people involved.

    It seems to me that the judge is the problem. Not Polanski. He agreed to a deal that all parties agreed to and then decided he could channge his mind.

    She has moved on with her life and seems not to appreciaste the circus that the judge created .

    Now a new circus with more technology than back then is emerging and I can only imagine what will happen from all of that.

    September 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm |