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LAPD probing new sex assault accusation against Roman Polanski, though the case can't be prosecuted

LAPD probing new sex assault accusation against Roman Polanski, though the case can't be prosecuted
Director Roman Polanski fled the U.S. in the 1970s before being sentenced for unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old. (Guillaume Souvant / AFP/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Police Department said it is investigating allegations that director Roman Polanski in 1975 molested a child when she was 10, even though the case cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.

Josh Rubenstein, the LAPD communications director, said the department is committed to investigating such claims because even if charges cannot be brought, the evidence could aid in the prosecution of other cases.

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Over the years, at least six women have accused Polanski of sexually abusing them, with most of them saying the abuse happened when they were minors. Despite the Paris-based director’s status as a fugitive and repeated efforts to get him back by prosecutors, he remains active in the film industry and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The latest LAPD report involves Marianne Barnard, an artist who has accused the director of molesting her during a 1975 photo shot at Will Rogers State Beach after he had her pose naked with a fur coat. Barnard reported the allegation to police in October.

She has also started an online petition to kick Polanski out of the film academy. She said she was emboldened to go public following the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and by the dozens of women who came forward with tales of abuse at the hands of the movie mogul.

Polanski, 84, has denied Bernard's accusations and through his representative said he has no knowledge of her.

Because of the statute of limitations in California, child sexual assault cases cannot be prosecuted on incidents that occurred before 1992.

Polanski, who won a directing Oscar in 2003 for “The Pianist,” remains a fugitive from justice after fleeing the U.S. in 1977 before sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court for having anal sex with a 13-year-old girl.

In the transcripts of grand jury testimony in that case, Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, said the director had given her some Champagne and a Quaalude and told her to take off her blouse. The 13-year-old said she was afraid of Polanski and repeated informed him she had to go home. She testified that he kissed her and that she told him to stop and to keep away. He pulled off her panties, started to have intercourse with her, then switched to anal sex when she told him she was not on the pill, according to the testimony transcripts.

Polanski was indicted on charges of rape, sodomy and furnishing drugs to a minor. But the victim’s family asked the district attorney’s office to spare her the trauma of testifying at trial. Polanski was offered a deal and pleaded guilty only to unlawful intercourse. He served 42 days in prison, where he underwent diagnostic testing. When he was released before formal sentencing, he fled.

His lawyers and supporters, who include Harvey Weinstein, have said he served his time and shouldn't be the subject of a fugitive warrant. Geimer has publicly supported Polanski's view that he has served his time. He paid her a civil settlement of $500,000 plus interest.

Polanski has managed to avoid U.S. extradition efforts from Switzerland and Poland in recent years.

But he has faced other allegations of sexual abuse. In 2010, Charlotte Lewis accused Polanski of forcing himself on her when she was 16 and auditioning for a role in his movie in 1983. Then in August, a woman identified only as Robin by attorney Gloria Allred told reporters that Polanski sexually victimized her in 1973 when she was 16. She said she was speaking out after so many years of silence because Geimer’s remarks “infuriated” her.

In October, Renate Langer, 61, a former German actress, told Swiss police that the "Chinatown" filmmaker raped her at his mountain chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, when she was 15. The model said she traveled there because the director indicated he was interested in casting her in a movie. Langer brought forth the allegation after Switzerland eliminated its statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. She said she waited to report the February 1972 incident largely out of concern for her parents, who died recently.

Another actress last month alleged to a British newspaper that Polanski attempted to rape her in a New York hotel in 1970.

Polanski told the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year from a Zurich, Switzerland, film festival: "I went to jail. I came back to the United States to do it, people forget about that, or don't even know. I then was locked up here after this festival [in 2009]. So in the sum, I did about four or five times more than what was promised to me."

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