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Director Roman Polanski sued over alleged sex assault of minor

ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2018
                                Director Roman Polanski appears at an international film festival, where he promoted his film, “Based on a True Story,” in Krakow, Poland. A woman has sued director Polanski, alleging he raped her in his home when she was a minor in 1973. The woman aired the allegations, which the 90-year-old Polanski has denied, in a news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2018

Director Roman Polanski appears at an international film festival, where he promoted his film, “Based on a True Story,” in Krakow, Poland. A woman has sued director Polanski, alleging he raped her in his home when she was a minor in 1973. The woman aired the allegations, which the 90-year-old Polanski has denied, in a news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred.

LOS ANGELES >> A woman has sued director Roman Polanski, alleging he raped her in his home when she was a minor in 1973.

The woman aired the allegations, which the 90-year-old Polanski has denied, in a news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred, on Tuesday.

The account is similar to the still-unresolved Los Angeles criminal sexual assault case that prompted Polanski in 1978 to flee to Europe, where he has remained since.

The woman who filed the civil lawsuit said she went to dinner with Polanski, who knew she was under 18, in 1973, months after she had met him at a party. She said Polanski gave her tequila shots at his home beforehand and at the restaurant.

She said she became groggy, and Polanski drove her home. She next remembers lying next to him in his bed.

“He told her that he wanted to have sex with her,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiff, though groggy, told Defendant ‘No.’ She told him, ‘Please don’t do this.’ He ignored her pleas. Defendant Polanski removed Plaintiff’s clothes and he proceeded to rape her causing her tremendous physical and emotional pain and suffering.”

Defense attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs said in an email Tuesday that Polanski “strenuously denies the allegations made against him in the lawsuit and believes that the proper place to try this case is in the courts.”

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in June under a California law that temporarily allowed people to file claims of childhood sexual abuse after the statute of limitations had expired. Under the law, Polanski also could not be named initially, so the lawsuit was not reported on by media outlets. It seeks damages to be determined at trial.

A judge has since given the plaintiff approval to use his name in the case. The judge on Friday set a 2025 trial date.

In his legal response to the lawsuit, Polanski’s attorney denies all of its allegations and asserts that the lawsuit is unconstitutional because it relies on a law not passed until 1990.

The woman first came forward with her story in 2017, after the woman in Polanski’s criminal case asked a judge to dismiss the charges, which he declined to do.

At the time, the woman who has now filed the civil lawsuit gave her first name and middle initial and said she was 16 at the time of the assault.

In the lawsuit and at Tuesday’s news conference, she did not give her name and said only that she was a minor at the time. She spoke only briefly.

“It took me a really long time to decide to file this suit against Mr. Polanski, but I finally did make that decision,” she said. “I want to file it to obtain justice and accountability.”

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused.

At least three other women have come forward with stories of Polanski sexually abusing them.

A major figure in the New Hollywood film renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s, Polanski directed movies including “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown.”

In 1977, he was charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He reached an agreement with prosecutors that he would plead guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse and would not have to go to prison beyond the jail time he had already served.

But Polanski feared that the judge was going to renege on the agreement before it was finalized and in 1978 fled to Europe. According to transcripts unsealed in 2022, a prosecutor testified that the judge had in fact planned to reject the deal.

Polanski’s lawyers have been fighting for years to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant that confined him to his native France, Switzerland and Poland, where authorities have rejected U.S. requests for his extradition.

He continued making films and won an Oscar for best director for “The Pianist” in 2003. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him in 2018 after the #MeToo movement gained momentum.

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