Entertainment & Arts

Roman Polanski expresses 'regret' over sex case

Roman Polanski
Image caption Polanski collected a lifetime achievement award from the Zurich Film Festival last month

Roman Polanski has said he "regrets" having unlawful sex with an under-age girl in his first TV interview since his time in a Swiss prison.

"I have regretted it for 33 years, of course I regret it," said the Oscar-winning film director, in an interview aired on Swiss TV on Sunday.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful intercourse with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in the US in 1977.

He fled the US on the eve of sentencing and was re-arrested in Zurich in 2009.

He then spent months in prison and under house arrest but avoided extradition.

'Double victim'

Polanski has since apologised to his victim and settled a civil case with her in the 90s.

"She is a double victim - my victim and a victim of the press," the director said in Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, shot while he was under house arrest.

Polanski was originally charged with six offences including rape and sodomy but in 1978, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex following a plea bargain and served 42 days in a US prison.

The film-maker, whose work includes Rosemary's Baby and Tess, fled the US after hearing rumours that the judge was about to re-sentence him for a much longer term.

He has never returned to the US and did not collect his best director Oscar for The Pianist at the 2003 Academy Awards.

In the interview with Swiss channel TSR, Polanski also spoke of his traumatic past, including his time spent as a Jewish child in a Polish ghetto during World War II and the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, in 1969.

He said he was "made of stronger stuff".

"I am used to death a little bit like surgeons are used to seeing a stomach cut open," he said.

Polanski thanked Switzerland, whose courts rejected the US request for his extradition, saying: "Your nation possess values that are disappearing in the rest of the world.

"I cannot abide political correctness, which only hides the ugliness in all of us under a veneer," he added.

"We're all a bit like that, though with a few exceptions like me where the veneer is a bit thinner."

Last week, Polanski received a standing ovation as he accepted a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

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