Roman Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, says she’s "very pleased" a Polish court rejected a U.S. extradition request for the famed director, calling the decades-long legal battle a "travesty" that has brought unnecessary harm.
U.S. prosecutors have repeatedly tried to extradite Polanski over his 1977 sex-crime conviction. When a Polish judge on Friday rejected the latest extradition request, Polanski said he felt "relief" — a sentiment Geimer echoed.
"I believe they did the right thing and made the right decision given all the facts," she told NBC News in an exclusive interview. "Since I'm well aware of how long this has been going on, I'm very pleased and happy."
Geimer, 52, said that's partially for "selfish" reasons — the media attention around each twist and turn of the nearly 40-year saga has been horrible for her and her family.
"Everyone wants to use the most sensational words they can," she explained in a phone interview. "It's unpleasant to be talked about in those terms."
She's also mindful of how the case has impacted Polanski and his loved ones, even if she doesn't feel she knows him "personally" so many years later.
"I'm sure he's a nice man and I know he has a family and I think he deserves closure and to be allowed to put this behind him," Geimer said. "He said he did it, he pled guilty, he went to jail. I don’t know what people want from him."
Polanski was accused of plying his then-13-year-old victim with champagne and drugs at a Los Angeles photo shoot, taking topless photos and having sex with her. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and served 42 days in prison.
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The acclaimed filmmaker fled the country the following year out of fear the judge would overrule the deal and send him back behind bars — and U.S. authorities have been pursuing him ever since.
The result, Geimer told NBC News, has put her and Polanski in an unlikely place.
"We somehow ended up on the same side," she explained. "Things have to go pretty wrong for them to end up this way."
According to Geimer, the case has been an expensive and torturous attempt at grabbing headlines instead of pursuing justice.
"It's a joke. A travesty," she said. "Hollywood justice at its finest."
That's why she wants the L.A. County District Attorney to stop pursuing extradition and to "honor the deal that was made" — or sentence Polanski in absentia to time served.
The district attorney's office also should be investigating allegations of prosecutorial misconduct which have dogged the case and been central to Polanski's legal strategy, Geimer said.
"Bad stuff happens to people"
However, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey told The Associated Press after Friday’s ruling that she was disappointed but would continue to pursue the case "because justice has never been served."
To Geimer, that’s “doing a disservice” to the people of Los Angeles.
"If they're going to waste time and money they should be spending it on helping people right now, today, that need help — not going for a publicity grab at everybody else's expense," she said. "Right now something terrible is happening to someone in Los Angeles — right now a woman needs help."
That doesn’t mean Geimer has forgotten what happened.
"There's absolutely no way to not call it rape because that's what it was," she said of the 1977 incident that launched the legal battle. "But I recovered from what happened that night a long time ago… Bad stuff happens to people. Worse stuff happens to people."
What came after the rape — the legal machinations, sensational headlines, endless news cycle — was also deeply traumatic, Geimer noted, and it's still not over for her or Polanski.
"I feel a kinship with him having been through this," she said. "He has apologized to me, he has treated me kindly and with respect, and I'm unaware that he's ever done anything untoward to anyone else."
Cassandra Vinograd is a Senior Writer and News Editor. Before joining NBC News, she worked as a London-based correspondent for The Associated Press and specialized in politics, foreign affairs and defense.
Vinograd previously worked as an editor for The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and London.
She has reported extensively from Afghanistan and on West Africa and the Middle East.
The Associated Press and Tracy Connor contributed.