Polanski victim speaks out

Today she’s 39 years old, but she still finds it hard get out from under the shadow of what happened to her when she was 13. Kaua`i resident Samantha Geimer — then Samantha Gailey — was the ostensibly anonymous statutory rape victim of filmmaker-in-exile Roman Polanski, then 43. After years of relative obscurity and few media appearances, the controversial Academy Awards nomination of Polanski’s “The Pianist” has put her back in the spotlight. Today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin features a rare interview with Geimer, in which she says Polanski’s Oscar chances shouldn’t be hurt by what he did 26 years ago.

“What he did has nothing to do with whether or not he should win an Academy Award — the film should be judged on its merits alone,” Geimer told the Bulletin. “I guess people want to me to be really angry and hateful toward him; honestly, I don’t feel that way. I think he’s a really good director.”

Reveling in family life on the North Shore of Kaua`i, Geimer said she hasn’t seen “The Pianist,” but will probably watch the Oscars. She also said she can’t fathom why people are still talking about something that happened a quarter of a century ago.

“I don’t really understand why the media is still interested in me about this,” Geimer told the Star Bulletin. “No one in Hawaii seems to care.”

In addition to the Oscar nomination, the Polanski case was stirred up even more when the transcripts of Geimer’s 1977 grand jury testimony was published earlier this month by exposé website The Smoking Gun. In the testimony, the young Geimer recounts in detail how she was photographed nude, given alcohol and drugs, and raped during a visit to actor Jack Nicholson’s house.

Some Hollywood pundits have questioned the timing of the transcript’s publication, and Geimer’s recent media appearances. On Feb. 23, the L.A. Times published an essay by Geimer in which she said she didn’t bear any hard feelings toward Polanski and that “The Pianist” should be judged apart from the deeds of its director. She was subsequently recently interviewed on ABC’s “Good Morning America” (from which some of the Star-Bulletin piece is drawn) and appeared as a guest on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

“A lot of people find it very suspicious that this woman has suddenly been appearing on the talk shows with her lawyer beside her saying that she has forgiven him,” said Peter Rainer, film critic for New York magazine and chairman of the National Society of Film Critics.

Geimer and executives associated with “The Pianist” deny there was any coordinated campaign on Polanski’s behalf. And both Geimer and her lawyer have said repeatedly that they’re not seeking out attention. In the Star-Bulletin piece, Geimer recounts the struggle of dealing with intense media scrutiny, and said she wished Polanski would return to the U.S. “so the whole ordeal can be put to rest for both of us.”

“I am not and never have thought about writing a book about this,” Geimer told the Star-Bulletin.

Geimer lives on Kauai with her husband Dave, her mother, and her three sons. Her sister lives nearby. She and her husband works for a real estate office.

Polanski was indicted on six criminal counts, and pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. He completed 42 days of court-ordered psychiatric observation in prison and had been released on bail pending sentencing when he fled to France, where he’s lived ever since.

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