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Samantha Geimer tells her side of story in Roman Polanski case

Samantha Geimer, who recounts the case in a new memoir, 'The Girl,' has long held a nuanced view of what happened to her as a 13-year-old in 1977, preferring not to see herself as a tragic figure.

September 16, 2013|By Rebecca Keegan

Since then, he has lived mostly in France, avoiding countries that might extradite him. He has married and had two children and has directed 12 additional feature films, including the Oscar-winning "The Pianist." He has complained about his treatment, as recently as this month in Vanity Fair where he called the legal case "a nightmare."

Geimer's teen years were a series of boyfriends and casual drug use. At age 18, she got pregnant, married and quit partying. The marriage didn't last, but the impulse to clean up her life did. She ran a home day-care center and went to legal secretary school.

In 1988, a European magazine published pictures of her driving, going to work and kissing Dave, then her boyfriend. To escape the intrusions, she and Dave moved to Kauai, where her mother lived.

"Hawaii is a great place to be when you have something weird like this in your life," she said. "You would be really hard-pressed to find someone who knows who Roman Polanski is. It was nice to have that ocean barrier and be around a bunch of people who couldn't care less."

In 1988, she filed a civil suit against Polanski, alleging sexual assault; it ultimately was settled for a six-figure sum. It took years to collect on but when she finally got the money, Geimer said, it helped with the raising of her three children, since her work as a secretary and Dave's as a property manager were not very lucrative.

Over the years, Geimer has often defended Polanski's right to move on with his life. When he was nominated for an Oscar for "The Pianist," she wrote an op-ed piece for The Times arguing that his movie should be judged on its merits. She also participated in Marina Zenovich's 2008 documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which highlighted the legal peculiarities in the case and the way the judge courted publicity, often asking reporters how they thought he should rule, for maximum public-relations benefit.

"I wish somebody would step up and say, 'Time served, case dismissed' and investigate the misconduct," she said.

After watching the documentary, Polanski wrote Geimer a letter, which appears in the book. "I wanted you to know how sorry I am for having so affected your life," he wrote.

Then in 2009, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office arranged for the director to be arrested as he arrived at the Zurich Film Festival. Geimer saw the arrest as politically motivated and a continuation of the legal maneuvering that had caused Polanski to flee in the first place. The Swiss later released him.

At the time, more than 100 artists and entertainers signed a petition calling for Polanski's release. The crime pundits, meanwhile, focused on Geimer; legal commentator Nancy Grace called her a "weak victim" and talk show host Phil McGraw said she had "victim's guilt." Their chief complaint seemed to be that Geimer was not angry enough at Polanski.

"I don't like it when people try to sensationalize what happened for their TV shows and talk about it with words like 'gruesome' or 'horrific,'" Geimer said. "How can you make a living doing that to other people?"

Writing the book, Geimer said, was a way to reclaim her own story. Most of it is about the Polanski case and Geimer's perspective on how she and others at the center of highly public crimes are exploited. She will be making talk show appearances and speaking at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills this month.

"I'm personally tired of everybody telling lies about me and about what happened," she said. "So now I'm saying my truth.... It's interesting to be able to do it on my own terms. My whole life has been reacting to what's happening to me. This is a different thing for me, to just be trying to tell the story."

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