Swiss probe rape allegation against Roman Polanski

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ZURICH (Reuters) – A former German actress and model has told Swiss authorities that film director Roman Polanski raped her at his mountain chalet in 1972 when she was 15 years old, local prosecutors said on Wednesday.

A lawyer for the 84-year-old French-Polish film director said he was aware of the allegation by Renate Langer and he dismissed it as an “absurd” attempt to generate media attention.

Police in the northeastern Swiss canton of St. Gallen confirmed on Wednesday they had received a complaint from Langer, 61, last month about an alleged rape in Polanski’s house in 1972. The New York Times first reported the allegation.

Efforts by Reuters in Germany to contact the former actress or her lawyers were not immediately successful.

Swiss prosecutors were being asked to consider whether prosecution of Polanski was possible under Swiss law given the alleged crime occurred nearly a half century ago.

Switzerland has eliminated the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children under the age of 12.

Prosecutors in St. Gallen said Langer had filed a complaint of rape against Polanski on Sept. 26. “The presumed act took place at the end of February 1972 in a chalet in Gstaad,” they said.

The case would be passed on to colleagues in the canton of Bern, where Polanski has a home in the up-scale ski resort of Gstaad.

FILE PHOTO: Director Roman Polanski signs autographs as he arrives to present his movie “D’apres une histoire vraie” at the Zurich Film Festival in Zurich, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

In Poland, Polanski’s lawyer, Jan Olszewski, said he and his clients were aware of the “notification” by Langer.

“In my opinion, the situation is so absurd that it is hard to even comment on it. This initiative – after 40 years – is primarily aimed at causing media noise,” he said.

Langer is the fourth woman to accuse Polanski publicly of sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers.

Swiss authorities arrested Polanski in 2009 on his arrival in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. He was released two months later on bail under “house arrest” in his Gstaad chalet.

This was for fleeing U.S. sentencing in 1978 for unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in Los Angeles in 1977 in a case where he pleaded guilty at the time.

In July 2010, he was released from Swiss house arrest after authorities decided against extradition because of potential technical faults in the U.S. request and because he had for years come to Switzerland in good faith.

Days later he attended a concert given by his wife French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The couple also appeared on Monday at this year’s Zurich film festival.

The New York Times quoted Langer as saying she was speaking out only now because she had read an account of another woman who came forward in August and because her parents were no longer alive.

Reporting by John Miller in Zurich, Lidia Kelly in Warsaw, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, and Paul Carrel in Berlin, Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by Richard Balmforth

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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