Roman Polanski: what is he accused of?


Roman Polanski: what is he accused of?

ROMAN POLANSKI CASE. Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski is the subject of several charges for rape and sexual assault. Back to the case.

[Updated October 16, 2022 7:00 PM] Roman Polanski has been facing charges of rape and sexual assault since 1977. He was arrested and charged in Los Angeles in March 1977 after being accused of child molestation by Samantha Gailey, 13 at the time. He pleads guilty to illegal sexual intercourse with a minor in exchange for the abandonment of the other charges (rape of a minor, sodomy, perversion, etc.).

Sentenced to 90 days in prison, the filmmaker comes out after 42 days for good behavior and leaves the United States when the judge, sensitive to public opinion, wishes to condemn the director for the other charges. Since then, Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich in 2009 and imprisoned for two months. But neither Switzerland in 2010 nor Poland in 2015 agreed to extradite him to the United States. Judge Gordon has indeed announced that he refuses to put an end to the proceedings against the director in 2017, Polanski is still the subject of an arrest warrant across the Atlantic. For her part, her victim Samantha Gailey has publicly forgiven Polanski and is calling for the case to be closed.

But other women then accused Roman Polanski of sexual abuse. This is the case of British actress Charlotte Lewis who accused him, in 2010, of having forced her to have sex with him in 1983, when she was 16 years old. In 2017, a certain Robin M. but also the German actress Renate Langer accused her of rape when they were minors. In these two cases, no complaint is filed. The same year, the artist Marianne Barnard accused him of having sexually abused her in 1975 when she was 10 years old, during a photo shoot. Finally, the photographer Valentine Monnier claims to have been raped by the filmmaker in 1975, in his chalet in Gstaad, when she was 18 years old. Roman Polanski has denied all the charges made against him, with the exception of that of Samantha Gailey.

Born in 1933 in Paris, Roman Polanski developed a passion for the theater very early on and joined a troupe. A graduate of the National Film School in Lódz, he directed a whole series of short films in the 1950s, bringing him his first awards. It was in 1962 that Roman made his first film, The Knife in the Water, nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. After moving to England, Roman directed his second film, a thriller starring Catherine Deneuve, Répulsion, but it was his next two films, Cul-de-sac and Le Bal des Vampires that would establish his notoriety and earn him fame. many awards. In 1968, an American producer entrusted him with the production of a fantastic film starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, Rosemary's Baby, which was a huge success when it was released and became a cult film. The film will be nominated twice for the Oscars. In 1969, his wife Sharon Tate was murdered by members of Charles Manson's cult at her home in Los Angeles. The director was scouting for a shoot in London. The American actress was eight months pregnant.

After this tragedy, Roman Polanski sinks into depression. He then worked tirelessly. He goes on to films, including Chinatown, Tess or Quoi. In 1977, Roman Polanski was sentenced to 90 days in prison for "illegal sexual intercourse with a minor". Samantha Geimer, 13 years old at the time of the events, accused the filmmaker at the time of having drugged and raped her. He will be released 42 days later for good behavior, on January 29, 1978. But when the judge decides to condemn the director again, the latter decides to leave the United States to settle in France.

Roman Polanski continues his projects in the cinema but also in the theater. In 1991, Roman Polanski chaired the jury of the 44th Cannes Film Festival. He released The Ninth Gate in 1999, which he himself would consider an artistic failure. In 2002, the director released The Pianist. Recounting the occupation of Poland during the Second World War, the film received the Palme d'Or, seven Oscar nominations and three statuettes, including Best Director. In 2005, he adapted Dickens' book, Oliver Twist, then he wrote a political thriller, The Ghost Writer, which earned him a third César for Best Director. But in full production of the film, Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich on September 27, 2009, as part of the 1977 affair. He will finish the film in his chalet in Gstaad, where he is under house arrest. He will finally be released on July 12, 2010.

Despite this affair which catches up with him regularly, Roman Polanski continues the projects. He presented Carnage in competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2011 and won the César for best adaptation. In 2014, he again won the César for best director thanks to La Vénus à la fur. He then embarked on his feature film project on J'accuse, a film transposition of the Dreyfus affair at the end of 2018. The film was released on the big screen on November 13, 2019, amid controversy: a sixth woman accuses the filmmaker of rape.

Roman Polanski has been married three times. He married Polish actress Barbara Lass in 1959, before divorcing in 1962. In 1968 he married American actress Sharon Tate, whom he met on the set of The Vampires' Ball. But while the director was filming in London, his wife was murdered along with four of her friends by members of the cult led by Charles Manson on August 9, 1969. Sharon Tate was eight and a half months pregnant. This murder will be Roman Polanski's greatest "tragedy".

In 1985, Roman Polanski met Emmanuelle Seigner thanks to the French agent and producer Dominique Besnehard. The couple married in 1989 and had two children. Previously, Roman Polanski was married to Barbara Lass from 1959 to 1962 and then to actress Sharon Tate in 1968. She was murdered by Charles Manson's sect in 1969.

"The Polanski affair" dates back to March 10, 1977. Then 44 years old, the filmmaker will photograph Samantha Gailey, now called Samantha Geimer, 13 years old at the time of the events. The young girl accuses the filmmaker of having drugged her and of forcing her into non-consensual sexual intercourse. The next day, Roman Polanski was arrested and charged. Six counts are brought against him: rape of a minor, sodomy, supply of a prohibited substance to a minor, licentious acts and debauchery, illicit sexual relations and perversion. After negotiations with the various parties, the director of Rosemary's Baby pleads guilty to "illegal sexual intercourse with a minor", the other charges are dropped. He was sentenced in September 1977 to 90 days in prison. He will be released 42 days later for good behavior, on January 29, 1978.

The court case takes a turn when Roman Polanski leaves prison. The judge finally announces that he wants to sentence the filmmaker again to an indeterminate sentence. He told the various parties that unofficially, the director would be released after 48 days if he left the United States. However, Roman Polanski learns that an indefinite term of imprisonment allows the sentence to be extended up to 50 years. He left the United States and settled in France in 1978. At the same time, the different parties to the case denounced the behavior of the judge. He was discharged from the case in February 1978 for "irregularity". In 1997, Samantha Geimer publicly declared on television that she had forgiven Roman Polanski.

Over the past twenty years, several legal proceedings have been launched by Roman Polanski's lawyers to request that the charges against their client be dropped. They denounce each time the criminal proceedings at work in 1977. Each time, the victim Samantha Geimer joins the filmmaker's lawyers and asks for the closure of the case. A first attempt was launched in 2008, another in 2014 and then in 2017. None will succeed, the charges against the filmmaker in the Samantha Geimer case still weigh against the director of The Pianist to this day.

On February 3, 1978, the United States opened an extradition case. However, none of the filmmaker's extradition requests made by the United States have been successful. In 2009, a dramatic turn of events: Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich. This arrest occurs within the framework of a mutual legal assistance treaty between Switzerland and the United States. The director will spend two months in a prison in Switzerland. He will then be assigned to residence, with monitoring device and electronic bracelet. In July 2010, the Swiss Minister of Justice ended up refusing the filmmaker's extradition to the United States. Roman Polanski is released. In 2014, the American authorities will try once again to arrest Roman Polanski, in Poland, without success.

Other charges against Roman Polanski

The Polanski affair will experience a new twist in May 2010: in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival, the British actress Charlotte Lewis accuses Roman Polanski of having abused her. The director cast her in his film, Pirates, released in 1986. She claims that the filmmaker forced her to have sex with him during a casting call at his house in 1983, when she was only 16 years old. Roman Polanski, through his lawyers, denies these accusations and threatens to sue the actress. In 2017, while the American justice examines a new request to drop the charges against Polanski, other women will speak up and accuse the filmmaker of having abused them. On August 15, 2017, one of them, who calls herself Robin M, accused the filmmaker of having sexually assaulted her in 1973, when she was 16 years old. The filmmaker denounced "an attempt to influence Judge Gordon", in charge of the case. On October 3, 2017, German actress Renate Langer filed a complaint in Switzerland against Polanski. She accuses him of raping her when she was 15. A few days later, American artist Marianne Barnard told The Sun that she had been abused by the filmmaker in 1975 when she was 10 years old. However, none of these cases will be judged, the facts being prescribed. The filmmaker for his part refuted each of these accusations.

In November 2019, a few days before the release of Polanski's latest feature, J'accuse, a new woman denounced Roman Polanski. French photographer Valentine Monnier accused the filmmaker of raping her in 1975. She was 18 years old. The facts would have taken place in the chalet of the director, in Gstaad (Switzerland). In the columns of Le Parisien, she declares that "it was extremely violent [...] He hit me, beat me until I surrendered and then raped me by subjecting me to all the vicissitudes". Once again, the director spoke through his lawyers: he "contests with the greatest firmness" these statements and would be thinking "of the legal consequences" to be taken. The facts are now time-barred, and the alleged victim never filed a complaint. Following these new accusations, the promotion around the film was cancelled.

In an interview with Paris Match at the end of 2019, Roman Polanski spoke publicly about all these accusations: "For years, people have tried to make a monster out of me. I got used to slander, my skin thickened, hardened like a shell. But for my children, for Emmanuelle, it's appalling. It's for them that I speak; for me, I don't even hope to change the course of things anymore." Roman Polanski also blamed the media: "The media threw themselves at me with unheard-of violence. They seize on every new false accusation, however absurd and without substance, because it allows them to revive this story. It's like a curse that returns and there is nothing I can do about it…”

The release of the film J'accuse by Roman Polanski caused debate in France. In 2019, several feminist associations called for a boycott of this reconstruction of the Dreyfus Affair, released a few days after new testimony accusing the filmmaker of rape. With the release of J'accuse, a very divisive debate agitates French cinema: can we dissociate the work of its artist? No, for the Osez le féminisme collective, which accused the filmmaker of drawing a parallel between the situation experienced by Captain Dreyfus and his own.

Despite the controversy and these calls for a boycott, Roman Polanski's J'accuse got off to a good start at the French box office: the filmmaker achieved the third best start in Paris for a French film on November 13, 2019. J'accuse also made the race at the top of the César 2020 nominations. The feature film was nominated 12 times, with a citation for Roman Polanski in the Best Director category. These appointments are controversial.