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Roman Polanski Identified as Defendant in Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Court Sets Tentative Trial Date

— March 14, 2024

The woman claims that, shortly after meeting Polanski in 1973, the director plied her with alcohol and sexually assaulted her inside of his Benedict Canyon home.

A woman has filed a lawsuit against filmmaker Roman Polanski, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in his home in 1973.

According to Variety, the plaintiff claims that she met Polanski at a party months before the alleged assault. Polanski later reached out to her, inviting her to dinner at Le Restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. There, Polanski purportedly gave the victim multiple shots of tequila before driving her back to his residence.

After arriving at Polanski’s Benedict Canyon home, the woman—who was underage at the time of the alleged assault—became “groggy” and gradually lost consciousness as Polanski began pressuring her to have intercourse.

“He told her that he wanted to have sex with her,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiff, though groggy, told Defendant ‘No.’ She told him, ‘Please don’t do this.’ He ignored her pleas.”

“Defendant Polanski,” the complaint claims, “removed Plaintiff’s clothes and he proceeded to rape her causing her tremendous physical and emotional pain and suffering.”

The plaintiff, who has chosen to remain anonymous, first filed her claim against Polanski in June. However, at the time of the filing, California law prevented the victim and her attorneys from explicitly naming Polanski as a defendant. A judge has since authorized the publicization of Polanski’s name, and set a tentative trial date for 2025.

On Tuesday, the plaintiff and Allred hosted a press conference to discuss the case, the early restrictions on which had precluded significant media attention.

“Our client […] has demonstrated enormous courage in filing her lawsuit against a famous director,” Allred said. “Although the defendant has appeared to return to business as usual in his life, our client has not been able to return to business as usual.”

Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

“But we look forward to our fight for justice and accountability for Jane Doe,” Allred said, referring to the plaintiff by her pseudonym.

An attorney for Polanski said that his client “strenuously denies the allegations made against him in the lawsuit and believes that the proper place to try this case is in the courts.”

Polanski has been living in self-imposed exile in Europe since 1978, when he pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to having unlawful sexual intercourse with Samantha Geimer.

Geimer, who was 13 years old when the 1973 assault occurred, recently told reporters that she had never expected, intended, or even wanted Polanski to be penalized for the incident.

“Let me be very clear,” Geimer told journalists from the French-language magazine Le Point, “what happened with Polanski was never a big problem for me.”

“I didn’t even know it was illegal, that someone could be arrested for it,” Geimer said during a joint interview with Polanski and his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner. “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.”

The Los Angeles Times notes that Polanski’s 1978 criminal case attracted renewed attention in 2022, after transcripts of court proceedings indicated that the judge had only intended to sentence the filmmaker to 90 days in jail. But Polanski, who was awarded early release from a “90-day diagnostic evaluation,” fled the country, unsure as to whether the court would mete out harsher punishment at some later date.

Although Polanski never returned to the United States, Allred said that litigation will proceed even if the director refuses to answer summons.

“He’s not coming back, but this is a civil lawsuit,” she said. “He does not have to appear for a civil lawsuit.”

The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.


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