British actress Charlotte Lewis told a news conference Friday in Los Angeles that director Roman Polanski "sexually abused me in the worst possible way when I was just 16 years old, four years after he fled the United States to avoid sentencing for his crime."
Lewis, now 42, who read from a prepared statement, appeared composed as she said Polanski "met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris" in 1982. She later worked on the director's movie "Pirates," released in 1986.
Lewis said she came forward because she heard Polanski was fighting extradition to the U.S., where he's supposed to face sentencing in the 1977 case involving a 13-year-old girl. She said, "His legal team is portraying his previous offense against a minor as an isolated incident.
"In addition to the fact that both myself and his previous victim were underage, I believe that there are other similarities in the crimes that he committed," Lewis said.
Video of Lewis' press conference below:
Lewis appeared in films including "The Golden Child" and "Storyville" as well as an episode of "Seinfeld."
Deputy D.A. David Walgreen, who is handling the effort to extradite Polanski, and an investigator from the LAPD met with Lewis and her attorney, Gloria Allred, late Thursday, D.A. spokesperson Sandi Gibbons told TheWrap. "With the Polanski case pending before the Swiss court, we will not be making any out-of-court statements," Gibbons told TheWrap.
At Friday's press conference, Lewis said she traveled to the U.S. at her own expense because "it is very important that the district attorney and the Swiss authorities be armed with this information as they decide Mr. Polanski's fate."
Polanski's U.S. legal team issued the following statement on Friday:
"We don't have any information about statements made at a Gloria Allred press conference today, but we do know that our District Attorney continues to refuse to provide the Swiss government with accurate and complete information relevant to the extradition issue."
Allred, in a statement, indicated that Lewis' statements could be influential in sentencing Polanski. "The defense ... may wish to portray their client as a loving father and a law-abiding citizen after he fled and failed to appear for his sentencing," Allred said. "The judge, however, can also consider credible claims of predatory conduct after Mr. Polanski fled when determining the appropriate sentence."
Allred also said her client is willing to testify under oath about her claims.
At the Cannes Film Festival earlier this week, a group of directors signed a petition in support of Polanski. Signatories include Jean-Luc Godard and Bertrand Tavernier.
However, Michael Douglas, appearing at Cannes with his movie "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," said Friday he would not sign the petition. He told French radio it would be "unfair" for him to sign a petition for "somebody who did break the law."