Los Angeles detectives said Tuesday they're investigating a woman's claim that Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski molested her in 1975, when she was 10 years old. But the statute of limitations has long expired, so criminal charges couldn't be brought even if proven, reports the AP, though law enforcement officials may be able to use any evidence they collect to help prosecute other cases. Authorities are now investigating the case because LA detectives "will always take a report from any victim and then determine if the case is within the statute of limitations," a police spokesman said. The 84-year-old director has been a fugitive since he fled to France in 1978 on the eve of a sentencing for an unrelated case involving the sexual assault of a then-13-year-old girl. He splits his time between France, his native Poland, and Switzerland.
The victim in that case, Samantha Geimer, made an impassioned plea to a California judge earlier this year supporting Polanski's efforts to end the four-decade legal saga that limits his freedom. The latest allegations against Polanski were first reported to police in October when Marianne Barnard, a California artist, said Polanski had molested her during a photo shoot in 1975 after he had her pose nude in a fur coat on a beach in Los Angeles County. Polanski's attorney, Harland Braun, said he has hired an investigator to interview the accuser's relatives and has told the investigator to speak with police and provide any information and documents obtained. "I believe that a competent LAPD investigation will prove the whole story to be bogus," he said in an email.