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Polanski accused of rape by former German actress

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    Renate Langer in Munich on Oct. 1. Langer has told Swiss police that film director Roman Polanski raped her when she was 15. Langer said she is speaking out now because her parents are no longer alive and also due to another woman who came forward. “This had an influence on all of my life,” said Langer, now the fourth woman to publicly accuse Polanski of sexual assault.

Renate Langer, a 61-year-old former German actress, has reported to the Swiss police that film director Roman Polanski raped her at a house in Gstaad in February 1972, when she was 15.

Langer is the fourth woman to publicly accuse Polanski of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

Police in St. Gallen, Switzerland, confirmed that they met with Langer on Sept. 26. Langer provided The New York Times with a copy of an email — sent by a Swiss police officer — saying that another office would make the determination as to whether she could pursue a criminal complaint.

Switzerland has eliminated its statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases, but the law limits prosecution in cases that happened many years ago. Langer said in an interview that she had approached the Swiss police because she believed the statute of limitations would allow her complaint to be investigated.

In an email sent to her lawyer and to a friend of Langer, the officer who spoke to her in St. Gallen said an interpretation of the law in this instance would be made by the public prosecutor’s office in Bern.

Langer said in the interview that she had not previously reported anything to police — and did not confide in friends and family at the time — largely out of concern for her parents. She said she told a boyfriend years later.

“My mother would have had a heart attack,” she said. “I felt ashamed and embarrassed and lost and solo.” Her father died this past summer, and her mother two years ago.

Harland Braun, a lawyer for Polanski, the 84-year-old award-winning French-Polish film director, declined to comment on Langer’s accusation. Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to unlawful sex with Samantha Geimer when she was 13, but his lawyer has disputed other similar accusations in the past.

In August, a woman in Los Angeles, identified only as Robin M., came forward at a news conference to report that Polanski had sexually assaulted her in 1973 when she was 16.

At the time, Braun said in a statement that Polanski’s reaction had been, “I don’t know what this is about.”

In 2010, British actress Charlotte Lewis also accused Polanski of abusing her sexually when she was 16.

Polanski has been living in exile from the United States since fleeing the country in 1978 on the eve of his sentencing in the Geimer case.

He has since resided in France but has spent time in Poland and Switzerland. France does not extradite its citizens, and judges in Poland and Switzerland have declined to extradite Polanski to stand trial in the United States. His lawyers have been fighting for his international arrest warrant to be lifted.

In August, a Los Angeles County judge declined to drop the case against Polanski in the United States for the second time.

On Oct. 2, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with Polanski in which he said he considered the Geimer case to be closed.

“As far as what I did: It’s over. I pleaded guilty,” he said.

Langer said that she was speaking out now because she had read the account of the woman who came forward in August and because her parents are no longer alive.

By her account, she was introduced to Polanski after she began working for a modeling agency in Munich in high school and said she had traveled to visit him in Gstaad, with the permission of her parents, because he had indicated an interest in casting her in a movie.

Polanski, she said, raped her in a bedroom of his home, and she described being unable to defend herself against him despite trying. She left the next day, full of shame and confusion, and said she chose not to tell her parents because it would devastate them.

About a month later, she said, Polanski called her to apologize for what had happened and offered her a role in his movie “Che?” She said that she accepted after he indicated he would treat her professionally.

She flew to Rome alone and was given a small part in the movie. Polanski did not make any sexual advances as filming got underway, she said. But one night in Rome, when she was alone in a house that she had been sharing with others, she said he raped her again in a bedroom despite her efforts to defend herself by throwing a bottle of wine and a bottle of perfume at him.

“This had an influence on all of my life,” she said.

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