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Past returns to haunt Polanski’s Oscar hope

London, March 13: Details of rape allegations which caused Roman Polanski to flee Hollywood 26 years ago surfaced in America yesterday just 11 days before the Oscars are to be announced.

The director is in the running for awards for The Pianist, his acclaimed Holocaust movie, and it is believed the posting of a transcript of the grand jury testimony of his 13-year-old accuser on a website is designed to sink his chances of winning.

She describes how he plied her with drink and drugs, persuaded her to pose “bare from the waist up” for pin-up photographs, then drove her to the Beverly Hills house of the actor Jack Nicholson where he had sex with her.

Curiously, the transcript, according to the Smoking Gun website, was quietly unsealed four months ago by a Los Angeles judge but it remained secret, even in late February when Samantha Geimer, now 39, mysteriously reappeared to be interviewed by CNN’s Larry King and the Los Angeles Times.

Polanski, 69, who has lived in a luxurious apartment in Paris since he went on the run to avoid a lengthy prison sentence, had just won Baftas in London for best picture and best director, dramatically increasing his chances of an Oscar. The film also won the Palme D’Or at Cannes.

Geimer, now a mother of three living in Hawaii, said that she bore “no hard feelings” towards Polanski. She said that the case should have no bearing on Academy Award voters.

Polanski’s film is based on the memoirs of the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish jew who survived against the odds in Nazi-occupied Warsaw.

Polanski’s parents died in Auschwitz and he, too, fought for survival as a Holocaust child. Speaking from Paris, Polanski cut off a question about reports that he was negotiating with US prosecutors about a deal to return to America. He snapped: “If that’s what interests you after having seen this film, it means that I somehow missed the point.”

Jeff Berg, his Hollywood agent, said that legal issues remained unresolved.

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