In a rare new interview, Polish film director/actor Roman Polanski discusses his decades-old sex case and denies that he lives as a fugitive by avoiding certain countries for fear of being arrested.
Polanski, 80, spoke to Vanity Fair contributor James Fox about his initial flight to France in 1978 after a U.S. judge decided that his initial detention of 42 days in prison on a charge of unlawful sex with a minor would be reversed and he was ordered to do additional jail time.
"The soul of a fugitive?" Polanski asks, with a trace of sarcasm. "I escaped from the [Kraków] ghetto, I escaped from Communist Poland, I had to run from persecution. Maybe I shouldn't have run from the ghetto either," the Holocaust survivor added. "I thought even if I have to go back to Poland and work all my life there, it's better than going through all this. It's easy to say that I was working and traveling during that year [while waiting for the sentence], but it was a nightmare -- hell -- with this sword hanging over my neck."
In September 2009, Polanski was arrested while in Switzerland at the request of U.S. authorities on the 31-year-old charge. He was jailed near Zürich for two months, then put under house arrest at his home in Gstaad while awaiting a decision on an appeal fighting extradition. In July 2010, the Swiss rejected the U.S. request and declared him a "free man" and released him from custody.
When asked directly about accusations that he has lived as a fugitive and avoids traveling to certain countries, Polanski responds, "Absolutely not. I was moving freely for 32 years."
Samantha Geimer -- the victim who recently came out with a tell-all book about the case -- also responded to Fox via email for the Vanity Fair article.
Although the family of then 13-year-old Geimer agreed to a plea bargain in which Polanski admitted only to unlawful sex with a minor, she wrote to Fox: "What I will say is: it was rape. Not only because I was underage, but also because I did not consent. My hesitance to throw the word rape around is because in my own mind that word implies a level of violence that did not occur in my case. Prosecutors and others throw a lot of words around very freely. I prefer to be more thoughtful when choosing my words."