The Girl: A view from the center of the Polanski scandal

This event took place on:
Monday, September 23, 7:30 - 9:00pm
Location
The Girl

Written by Samantha Geimer, Published by Atria Books

Listen to this program | Timeline of events

In her recent autobiography, "The Girl," Samantha Geimer devotes two pages to the moment Hollywood director Roman Polanski raped her in Jack Nicholson's home that day in 1977. The rest is spent on the saga of the scandal, how it shaped her life and relationship with the filmmaker and the media attention that has dogged her ever since. 
 
"What happened with him that night happened, it was over with in 10 minutes, then I went home," she told Los Angeles Times reporter Rebecca Keegan in a live-audience appearance with former attorney Lawrence Silver at the KPCC Crawford Family Forum.

Always reacting 

Geimer, who spent the majority of her adult life at the center of the case, has since moved on and made peace with Polanski. She says the book is her way of telling the story her way, "controlling it to some extent." 

"This is better, that's why I did the book, because I'm always reacting to something: He's arrested; he might win an Oscar; we heard he might be coming back," Geimer said. "It's always a surprise and I'm always reacting to something that happened that involves him and not me. So this is better because I can say it on my own terms, tell the truth, set the record straight, I guess. Maybe answer some criticisms."
 
Geimer also talked about the day she was raped, how her mother and her family reacted to it, how the media handled it, and her attitude toward the man who "affected" her life.
 
In 2009, after the release of "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" — a documentary about the legendary filmmaker's scandal — Polanski himself wrote a note to Geimer, apologizing for what he had done.

Dear Samantha, 
I watched Marina Zenovich's documentary for the second time and I thought I should write you this note. 
I want you to know how sorry I am for having so affected your life. Watching you in the film, I was impressed by your integrity and your intelligence. And you are right — they should give your mother a break! The fault was mine, not your mother's. I hope the pressure of the media has alleviated and that your family brings you much happiness. 
 
Best wishes, 
Roman Polanski

"I was surprised to get it and it was very nice," Geimer said. "And although I didn't feel like I need an apology from him, because after all we've both been through I'm pretty sure he felt sorry and wouldn't do it again and wish he'd never met me. But for my mom and my husband and my sons and even some friends I could see it was meaningful for them. Like it took a little bit of that pain away. So in that way I was really grateful."

Media victim
 
Geimer also spoke about how the media portrayed her — legal commentator Nancy Grace once called her a "weak victim."
 
"I think the media really does injure victims and uses them," Geimer said. "When something bad happens to you, maybe it's shocking. Maybe there's a celebrity involved, so it's news. Now we have [a] 24-hour news [cycle] that needs to be filled, but victims are human beings with families. And even criminals are human beings and they have families. And the way everybody just seems they want to find anybody they can, drag them out, have a press conference, get them on the show, get ratings, sell some more copies... But they don't really care about that victim."
 
And although Geimer says she's moved on — she is now married and has children — she feels the justice system failed her. 
 
"In my case, I take personal offense. It's an international thing. And to see our justice system so misused, it's almost an embarrassment," she said. "We're supposed to be proud of our justice system here — it's a big deal. And to see it go so wrong, I don't know why I took that so personally but I really did."


 Listen to the entire audio of the conversation:


Timeline of events in the Roman Polanski case:

  • 1977: Hollywood director Roman Polanski, 44, lures 13-year-old Samantha Geimer (Samantha Gailey at the time) to a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson's home. It is there where he drugs her and rapes her. Days later, Polanski is arrested and charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He pleads guilty.
  • 1978: After he underwent a psychiatric evaluation, Polanski is released and he flees to France.
  • 1997: Geimer attempts to settle the case and unsuccessfully requests the Los Angeles Police Department to drop the charges against Polanski.
  • 2005: Authorities get an international arrest warrant to bring Polanski back to Los Angeles to face the rape charge.
  • 2009: Polanski is arrested in Switzerland as he arrives for a film festival. Los Angeles prosecutors fail to extradite him back to the U.S.
  • 2010: Swiss police release Polanski and set him free.

With contributions from Luis Gomez. This event was produced by Jon Cohn.


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