The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski
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In this memoir that “might be the most important and valuable book of the century so far” (The Guardian), Samantha Geimer reveals for the first time her side of one of the most notorious and complex legal cases in American history.
March 1977, Southern California. Roman Polanski drives a rented Mercedes along Mulholland Drive to Jack Nicholson’s house. Sitting next to him is an aspiring model named Samantha Geimer. She is thirteen years old.
The undisputed facts of what happened in the hours that followed appear in the court record: Roman and Samantha spent hours taking pictures—on a kitchen counter, topless in a Jacuzzi. Wine and Quaaludes were consumed, balance and innocence were lost, and a young girl’s life was altered forever—eternally cast as a background player in her own story.
For months on end, the Polanski case dominated the media both in the United States and abroad. But even with the extensive coverage, there is much about that day—and the girl at the center of it all—that has remained a mystery. The few times Samantha Geimer has spoken publically, it has been largely in reaction to Polanski—his latest film, his arrests, his releases. Virtually the entire narrative of Samantha’s life, and even the details of the rape itself, have all been left untold.
Taking us far beyond the known headlines, this is the story of a girl who was simultaneously wise beyond her years and yet terribly vulnerable and even naive. Says New York Times bestselling author Sheila Weller, “Witty, snarky—but also precise and thoughtfully observant…Samantha Geimer is a reflective guide as she humanely tells of a complex violation that hurt but didn’t defeat her.”
the mother of that girl and tell her what an ass she is,” Scott said. I couldn’t take it anymore. “You have met her,” I said. And then I told them the story. Maybe it was because they were stand-up guys, or maybe it was because they simply couldn’t wrap their minds around it, but Scott never told a soul until 2009, when Polanski was arrested at the Zurich airport and I told him it was fine to talk. That kind of discretion is unusual in anybody, never mind a thirteen-year-old boy. The media’s
court, resigned to saying their lines as the judge had directed. First Gunson, then Judge Rittenband, then Dalton, then Larry. Curtain. Applause. If nothing else, the judge’s trespasses forged some unusual alliances, between the antagonists Larry and Dalton, and between the natural adversaries Dalton and Gunson. They may have had problems with each other personally, but they bonded over their shared sense that Rittenband was certifiable. Rittenband had asked Polanski to give an accounting of
and Dalton could hear, Rittenband went on: “I’m not doing that because if I did that I’d be seriously criticized by everybody and I’m not going to be criticized for helping him.” The dumbfounded lawyers looked at each other. Was he really having this conversation in front of them? Fearing press criticism, Rittenband was changing course once again. The forty-two days were not enough. He decided instead he was going to give Polanski an indeterminate sentence. That means exactly what it sounds
of court officials, those are set aside, because the rule of law must apply to Polanski first. Why? Justice applied selectively, applied at the whim of the district attorney’s office. Why? Punishing Polanski for what he did to me was only one motivation in many, and a relatively minor one at that. There were much more pressing concerns: politics, business, spectacle. The analogy that always comes to mind when I think of the way I was treated is this: What if, instead of being raped, I were
to ask for relief from punishment for the criminal. It’s not perfect. But it’s right. � · · In April 2013, the London Feminist Collective staged a protest of a retrospective of Polanski’s films at the British Film Institute (BFI). Women marched with placards that said things like “Polanski’s Still on the Run/But That Don’t Bother the BFI None” and ran side-by-side photos of Polanski with Jimmy Savile, the knighted British entertainer, now deceased, who was recently found to have sexually