Roman Polanski won’t face ’75 child molest charge as L.A. prosecutor cites expired statute of limitations

Roman Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 but won't be formally charged in connection with an allegation he molested a woman when she was a minor in 1975.
(Guillaume Souvant / AFP/Getty Images)

Prosecutors in Los Angeles have formally declined to charge fugitive director Roman Polanski in connection with an allegation he molested a woman when she was a minor in 1975, saying the statute of limitations has expired.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michele Hanisee formally declined the LAPD case on Dec. 19 after she was provided the details by Los Angeles Police Det. Greg Stearns.

Last month, after the investigation was initiated, 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.


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 Barnard’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 after fleeing the U.S. in 1978 before sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.


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 repeatedly 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.

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.

Twitter: @lacrimes