May 14, 2010 -- A British actress who starred in a Roman Polanski film charged today that the director "sexually abused" her when she was 16 years old in his Paris apartment.
The incident allegedly happened in 1982, four years after Polanski fled the United States to because he feared a California judge was going to send him to prison on charges he raped a 13-year-old girl.
"Mr. Polanski sexually abused me in the worst possible way when I was just 16, four years after he fled the U.S. to avoid sentencing for his crime," Charlotte Lewis, now 44, told reporters.
Lewis did not provide any details of the alleged encounter, including whether she was given drugs or raped. She did say there were "similarities" to the 1977 case, in which Polanski gave 13-year-old Samantha Geimer champagne and Quaaludes before raping and sodomizing her.
"Mr. Polanski knew I was just 16 when he met me and forced himself on me … in his apartment in Paris," she said.
Lewis did not report the incident to French authorities at the time, and said she came forward now only to provide additional information that a judge might consider if Polanski is extradited back to the United States.
"He victimized another child while a fugitive from justice… The sentencing judge needs this information to make an informed decision," said Lewis' American lawyer Gloria Allred. "The judge may consider predatory claims… [which] could certainly have an impact on Polanski's sentencing."
Allred said Lewis had no plans at this time to sue Polanski and only came forward now that it appeared Polanski may soon return to the U.S. for sentencing
Alleged New Victim Ready to Testify at Polanski's Sentencing
"Charlotte is ready to testify under oath if that were ever to become necessary," Allred said.
Polanski, Allred said, has tried to portray himself as a loving father and the Geimer rape as an isolated incident, but if Lewis' allegations are true "it gives weight that Mr. Polanski deserves no compassion."
Allred said she did not know what the age of consent was in France at the time of the alleged incident, but said the undisclosed details indicated a crime took place, which fit Polanski's "modus operandi."
She said she and Lewis met yesterday with Los Angeles County prosecutors, but had not alerted French police.
Polanski fled the United States to France in 1978, after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual acts with Geimer. The director lived freely in Europe for 32 years, until Swiss authorities placed him under house arrest in that country late last year.
Polanski was arrested in September 2009 at Zurich airport when he arrived in the country to receive a lifetime-achievement award. The Swiss said he was arrested at the request of U.S. authorities, but he has yet to be extradited back to the U.S.
Polanski never denied he raped Geimer in March 1977. He pleaded guilty to the charge and fled to Europe when he believed the judge would renege on the plea deal he was offered.
In her 1978 testimony, Geimer said the director took her to actor Jack Nicholson's home, where he plied her with alcohol and drugs and convinced her to pose naked for photographs. Polanski then took the girl into the bedroom, where he raped her.
"I was ready to cry," she testified. "I was going, 'No. Come on. Stop it.'"
Geimer said Polanski began having intercourse with her before asking her if she used birth control and when her last period was.
She testified that he then asked: "Would you like me to go in through your back?" Then, he started performing anal sex on her.
In the years since her rape, Geimer says she has forgiven Polanski and does not believes he should face further jail time.
Also today, some of Europe's top directors, including Jean-Luc Godard, signed a petition at the Cannes Film Festival in support of Polanski.