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Video by Jonathan CRANE


Latest update : 2010-05-15

British actress Charlotte Lewis (pictured) said Friday that the director Roman Polanski "forced himself" on her nearly 30 years ago when she was 16. Polanski is currently fighting extradition to the US to face sentencing in another child-sex case.

AFP - Fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski was hit by fresh sex crime allegations Friday by a British actress who claimed the director "forced himself" upon her just after her 16th birthday.

Polanski, who is fighting extradition to the United States to face sentencing in his 1978 child sex case, was accused by actress Charlotte Lewis, 42, of abusing her at his apartment in Paris nearly 30 years ago.

In a press conference at the Beverly Hills offices of attorney Gloria Allred, Lewis said she was speaking out to counter suggestions from Polanski's legal team that his earlier case was an isolated incident.

"I am also a victim of Roman Polanski. He sexually abused me in the worst possible way when I was just 16 years old," Lewis said in a prepared statement.

Allred said Lewis had given statements to Los Angeles police and prosecutors which she hoped would be taken into consideration if Polanski were extradited back to the United States from Switzerland, where he is under house arrest.

"It is very important that the District Attorney and the Swiss authorities are armed with this information as they decide Mr Polanski's fate," said Lewis, who had a minor role in Polanski's 1986 period flop "Pirates."

"Mr. Polanski knew I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris. He took advantage of me and I have lived with the effects of his behavior ever since it occurred," she said.

"All I want is justice," added Lewis, best known for her leading role opposite Eddie Murphy in the 1986 adventure comedy "The Golden Child."

No further information about the circumstances of the incident with Polanski were revealed and Lewis took no questions from reporters.

Although Polanski, 76, was accused of "forcing himself" upon Lewis, the actress pointedly did not use the word "rape." "The words we used are the words we used," Allred said when asked about the actress's allegations.

Allred, whose clients have included two of golfer Tiger Woods's alleged mistresses and the family of US football start OJ Simpson's murdered ex-wife, denied Lewis's credibility would be diminished by her decision to only come forward after many years.

"I think what is important is she came forward now," Allred said. "Not only is it not too late, there's still time if the other victims want to come forward."

A spokesperson for Polanski's US legal team said they had no information concerning Lewis's allegations but said in a statement that local prosecutors continued "to refuse to provide the Swiss government with accurate and complete information relevant to the extradition issue."

Los Angeles prosecutors meanwhile confirmed they had met Lewis but it was not clear what effect -- if any -- her allegations could have in the ongoing proceedings against Polanski.

Polanski is currently under house arrest in Switzerland where he is fighting extradition in his 1978 case.

Polanski is alleged to have given 13-year-old Samantha Geimer champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor friend Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.

The director was initially charged with six felony counts, including rape and sodomy. The charge was later reduced to unlawful sexual intercourse after a plea deal agreed in part to spare his victim the ordeal of a trial.

Polanski later served 42 days at a secure unit undergoing psychiatric evaluation but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing in 1978 amid fears that the trial judge planned to go back on a previously agreed plea deal.

Polanski's flight from justice came after a string of hit films including "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."

The director, whose wife Sharon Tate was horrifically murdered by Charles Manson's "family" in 1969, won an Oscar for his 2002 film "The Pianist" but was unable to collect the award because of his fugitive status.

Date created : 2010-05-15


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