A woman allegedly raped by controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski when she was 13-years-old has criticised protesters who stormed out of France’s version of the Oscars when he was named best director.
Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping Samantha Geimer in 1977 and later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful sex.
However, he fled the country before he could be sentenced and remains a wanted man in the US.
Polanski’s past came under renewed scrutiny when despite fierce protests he won the best director prize at France’s Cesar Awards for his film An Officer And A Spy, leaving some attendees to walk out of the ceremony in disgust.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire star and nominee on the night Adele Haenel and director Celine Sciamma both left the room. Haenel shouted “bravo, paedophilia” as she left the ceremony in Paris while outside police clashed with protesters.
Polanski, 86, did not attend, saying he would face a “public lynching” by activists.
Mrs Geimer, 57, questioned what Haenel and Sciamma achieved by leaving February’s awards show.
She told the PA news agency: “Getting up with a few others and walking out, it just seemed to me, and I can only speak for myself, very opportunistic.”
The Hawaii resident, who said she has not seen An Officer And A Spy, criticised the protesters in France and accused them of “demonising” Polanski.
She said: “If you want to change the world today, you do it by changing the world today and demanding people be held accountable today, not by picking someone who is famous and thinking that if you demonise him for things that happen decades ago that somehow that has any value in protecting people and changing society.”
Mrs Geimer, a mother of three adult sons, added it was unfair on Polanski’s wife and two children for protesters to be “demonising” him for “things that happened in the 1970s”.
She said: “That’s kind of abusive to his family and painful for them as well. I don’t support it.”
Polanski, who won a best director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist, has been in self-imposed exile since he fled the US in 1978, fearing a judge would extend his sentence after he served 42 days in jail.
He pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with Mrs Geimer in 1977 after allegedly plying her with champagne and a sedative at the Hollywood Hills home of Jack Nicholson, who was not there at the time.
A Los Angeles court has denied several attempts by Polanski – backed by Mrs Geimer – to resolve his more than 40-year-old statutory rape case in absentia.
In November, a French photographer alleged Polanski raped her in 1975 when she was a teenager. A lawyer for the director said he “firmly denied” the allegation. In total six women have publicly accused Polanski of sexual assault.
Paris-born Polanski survived the Holocaust as a child and is the director of acclaimed films including Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown.
He sued the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences in April 2019 after it booted him out during Hollywood’s #MeToo reckoning.
Mrs Geimer said the #MeToo movement – which rose to prominence following dozens of allegations against the now convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein in October 2017 – has become “toxic”.
She said: “#MeToo is supposed to be about the solidarity of women and survivors. And to know we all have got through these things and we’re all strong.
“And if you look around #MeToo, other women in your life and other people in your life have been through these things and it’s far too common.
“When it’s used as a weapon to attack famous people or harm and demonise certain people I don’t think that’s ever what #MeToo was meant for and it’s become kind of toxic and lost its value.”
Mrs Geimer, a semi-retired bookmaker, revealed she “occasionally” speaks with Polanski via email, and confirmed they spoke amid the Cesar Awards controversy.
The filmmaker told her the situation was “horrible,” Mrs Geimer said.