Roman Polanski civil trial set for August 2025 in child rape case

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A trial date has been set in a civil case alleging that Roman Polanski raped a child in the 1970s, years before he was arrested for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in a separate case.

The trial is scheduled to take place on Aug. 4, 2025, following a lawsuit that accused Polanski of giving a child alcohol and raping her at his Benedict Canyon home. The complaint was filed last June in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The filmmaker wasn’t named in the case until July; the plaintiff remains anonymous as Jane Doe. The suit was originally filed without the plaintiff’s or defendant’s names made public.

The plaintiff and her attorney, Gloria Allred, discussed the case Tuesday during a news conference in Los Angeles. Allred said she was able to have Polanski served at his home in Paris.

“Our client … has demonstrated enormous courage in filing her lawsuit against a famous director,” Allred said at the news conference. “Although the defendant has appeared to return to business as usual in his life, our client has not been able to return to business as usual. … But we look forward to our fight for justice and accountability for Jane Doe.”

The plaintiff added that it took her a long time to decide to sue Polanski and that her goal is to “obtain justice and accountability.”

Asked by reporters how old the plaintiff was during the alleged rape, Allred would only say that the plaintiff was “under 18.” Allred said the victim in the lawsuit reported the assault to police, but she declined to offer additional details.

Read more: After sexual assault: A guide to the exams, your rights and your choices

Polanski, who previously pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a minor in a separate case in 1977 before fleeing the United States, has denied the allegations and attempted to get the case dismissed.

“He strenuously denies the allegations and the proper place to try this case is in the courts,” Polanski’s attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs told The Times.

According to the complaint, Polanski invited the defendant to dinner after meeting her at a party in 1973. They dined at a restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard where Polanski ordered the plaintiff tequila despite knowing she was a minor, the lawsuit alleges.

After drinking the tequila, the plaintiff allegedly became dizzy and sick and told Polanski she wasn’t feeling well. Polanski then drove the plaintiff back to his house and brought her into his bedroom where she passed out on his bed, the suit says.

Read more: Roman Polanski sex abuse case documents should be unsealed, Gascón says

When the plaintiff woke up, Polanski was lying next to her and “told her that he wanted to have sex with her,” the complaint alleges. Polanski proceeded to remove the plaintiff’s clothes and rape her after she told him, “No,” and “Please don’t do this,” causing her “tremendous physical and emotional pain and suffering,” the lawsuit continues.

The plaintiff is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Read more: Roman Polanski threatens lawsuit against motion picture academy over expulsion

Polanski, 90, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Samantha Geimer (née Gailey), then 13, in 1977 when he was 43, following allegations that he drugged and assaulted her at the home of actor Jack Nicholson. While on probation and before a verdict was delivered, the director fled to France.

Last year, Geimer posed for a photograph with Polanski and sat down with his wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner, for an interview that was published in the French magazine Le Point.

“Let me be very clear: What happened with Polanski was never a big problem for me,” she said in a translated version of the interview obtained earlier by The Times. “I didn’t even know it was illegal, that someone could be arrested for it. I was fine, I’m still fine. The fact that we’ve made this [a big deal] weighs on me terribly. To have to constantly repeat that it wasn’t a big deal, it’s a terrible burden.”

In the nearly five decades since Polanski fled to Europe following his conviction, he has made 15 films and earned Oscar nominations — he won best director for “The Pianist” in 2003.

Until #MeToo shifted the paradigm in Hollywood and elsewhere, the director of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” had the support of many of his peers who largely hewed to the idea that audiences can separate art from the artist. In 2014, when the U.S. government attempted to extradite Polanski, a raft of Hollywood luminaries signed a petition in his defense.

Four years later, however, Hollywood was in the throes of a reckoning over sexual misconduct by powerful men. In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, citing the criminal case against Polanski, expelled him (along with Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein) from the organization that hands out the Oscars.

Polanski sued in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2019 to be reinstated as a member; he lost in 2020.

Polanski’s criminal case garnered renewed attention in 2022, when unsealed transcripts revealed a judge had only intended to sentence the director to 90 days in custody in the assault against Geimer. Polanski was being held on a 90-day “diagnostic evaluation” while a judge contemplated his fate. He was released early and fled the country. But for years, Polanski’s attorneys had argued the transcripts would prove L.A. County Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband intended that short term to be his whole sentence.

“My recollection is that he said this case is worth 90 days. ‘I’m going to send him for 90 days, but I’m not going to send him to county jail,’” Rittenband said, according to testimony from the lead prosecutor in the case, Roger Gunson.

Rittenband died in 1993. Gunson has not responded to prior inquiries from The Times.

Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, said in 2022 he would file a motion to have Polanski sentenced in absentia and asked for the fugitive warrant against the director to be dismissed. Reached via e-mail on Tuesday, Braun said he had no comment on Allred’s allegations and noted he still had yet to file the sentencing motion.

It remains unclear whether the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office would file fugitive charges against Polanski upon his return to the U.S. A spokesman did not immediately respond to comment Tuesday.

Asked during Tuesday’s news conference how the latest Polanski case would proceed in Los Angeles if the filmmaker stays in Europe, Allred said, “He’s not coming back [to the United States], but this is a civil lawsuit. He does not have to appear for a civil lawsuit.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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