According to The New York Times, a 61-year-old German actress named Renate Langer has accused director Roman Polanski of raping her when she was a teenager in 1972. Langer has reported what happened to the police in Switzerland, but at this point it’s unclear if they’ll be able to pursue this as a criminal complaint. Switzerland has eliminated the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases like this, but it still bars “cases that happened many years ago.” The vagueness of that point seems to be the sticking point, as the Swiss police have now sent the case to a public prosecutor who will determine if the cops can pursue it.
Langer says she met Polanski when she was working for a modeling agency in Munich in high school. He said that he was interested in casting her in a movie, so she visited him at home with the permission of her parents. He allegedly raped her there, though Langer says she tried to defend herself, and she left the next morning “full of shame and confusion.” He later did offer her a role in his movie Che? (or What?), and after he apologized for what happened and promised to “treat her professionally,” she accepted it. During filming, she says he didn’t make any sexual advances, but one night he visited he house she had been sharing with others and raped her again despite being hit with a wine bottle.
As for why Langer didn’t come forward until now, she says she felt “ashamed and embarrassed” by what happened. She also never told her parents, believing her mother “would have had a heart attack,” and she only ever told a boyfriend many years after the rape. The New York Times story says her father died this past summer, and her mother died a couple of years ago. With her parents gone, she felt more comfortable telling people about what had happened.
Whatever happens, Langer is the fourth woman to accuse Polanski of raping her when she was a teenager, with a woman in Los Angeles coming forward earlier this year and a British actress making accusations of her own in 2010. Then, of course, there was the 1977 rape of Samantha Geimer, who was 13 at the time. Polanski entered a guilty plea in that case, believing that he had worked out some kind of deal with the judge so that he could get a lenient sentence. When he discovered that no such deal was in place, he fled the United States and has been on the run ever since.
This new allegation comes shortly after Polanski told The Hollywood Reporter that his original rape case is “over,” disingenuously claiming that he “went to jail” and “did about four or five times more” than what he was “promised.” Considering that he believes he was promised virtually nothing, though, that doesn’t really mean much. Polanski also said that it’s “unfortunate” that all of his movies are colored by these various rape accusations (and one rape conviction), which basically means that he thinks it would be preferable if he didn’t have to face any repercussions at all for raping a teenager in 1977.