Roman Polanski makes his first public acknowledgement about Samantha Geimer, the 13-year-old model he sexually assaulted in Los Angeles, in a documentary on his life that premiered Tuesday at the Zurich Film Festival.
“She is a double victim: my victim, and a victim of the press,” Polanski says of Geimer in Laurent Bouzereau’s “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir.” Polanski took to the stage at the Zurich Film Festival Tuesday to accept a lifetime achievement award two years after he was originally intended to receive it, as he was arrested and incarcerated in a Zurich prison at the request of U.S. authorities when he arrived to receive the honor in 2009.
“Better late than never,” the 78-year-old filmmaker said after a booming applause from the audience.
The director was held for two months in 2009 following his arrest at Zurich’s airport, then placed under house arrest at his home in Gstaad while the fight over his extradition to the U.S. was waged in courts. It was in this time that Bouzereau shot the interviews with Polanski for his documentary memoir.
The film reportedly shows Polanski’s side of the story regarding the 1978 legal case against him, which alleged that the then 43-year-old filmmaker sexually assaulted 13-year-old Geimer during a photo shoot for French Vogue.
In 1978 Polanski and his lawyers accepted a plea deal that would have the director put on probation, but Judge Laurence J. Rittenband reportedly suggested to Polanski’s attorney that the sentence may be heavier. Polanski fled to France, where he was protected from extradition, mere hours before sentencing.
In July 2010 Switzerland rejected the U.S. extradition request. Six charges against Polanski remain pending in the U.S.
Speaking with “Good Morning America” in March, Geimer told of a letter of apology she received from Polanski in 2009, and not only condemned the press in the same manner that Polanski does in Bouzereau’s film, but went on to condemn the courts.
“[Polanski] sent me a small note that was like an apology for all the trouble that he put me through. So that was nice,” she told “GMA.”
“But I was at peace with all that before that, because I know that he didn’t really mean to hurt me, and I know we were both going through a really hard time with the publicity and the courts, and nobody was getting treated fairly, and we were being used,” Geimer added.
Now a mother in her forties, Geimer said that the judge had insulted her mother, abused his power for his own gain and accused him of judicial misconduct. She also said that when the story of what happened to her resurfaced in 2009 following Polanski’s arrest her house was mobbed by the media and her children harassed by paparazzi.
“[The sexual assault] was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as the grand jury testimony, not as bad as having my sons traumatized by paparazzi, not as bad as the DA’s office saying ‘we look forward to seeing Mr. Polanski in court.’ What is that — sarcasm? We’re talking about a 13-year-old rape victim, and that’s how they treat me,” she said.
As for Polanski’s letter of apology, she told “GMA” that she was happy to hear it.
“I appreciated the apology — and it meant a lot to my mom,” Geimer said.