May 14, 2010 / 9:03 PM / 10 years ago

English actress accuses Polanski of abuse in 1980s

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An English actress who appeared in Roman Polanski’s 1986 movie “Pirates” said on Friday that the director sexually abused her decades ago in Paris when she was 16.

Charlotte Lewis attends a during a news conference in Los Angeles, May 14, 2010. Lewis, who appeared in director Roman Polanski's 1986 film 'Pirates,' alleges that she was victimized by Polanski when she was 16 years old. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Charlotte Lewis made her claim as U.S. authorities pressed for Polanski’s extradition from Switzerland to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

“Mr. Polanski knew that I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris,” Lewis said in prepared remarks at a news conference in Los Angeles.

“He took advantage of me and I have lived with the effects of his behavior ever since it occurred,” she said.

Lewis and her celebrity lawyer, Gloria Allred, declined to give details and no lawsuit has been filed. Lewis said she had come forward now with the aim of bolstering the case against the Oscar-winning director of “The Pianist.”

Polanski, 76, was arrested in Switzerland in September last year and is being detained at his home there. He fled California in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor but before being formally sentenced.

Polanski’s U.S. lawyers, who have argued judicial misconduct 30 years ago, said in a 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 (Los Angeles) District Attorney continues to refuse to provide the Swiss government with accurate and complete information relevant to the extradition issue.”

Polanski fled fearing the judge would renege on a promise to limit his sentence to the 42 days he had spent behind bars for psychiatric evaluation.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said Lewis on Thursday met with the lead prosecutor in the Polanski case, but declined further comment.

Lewis’s other film credits include 1986’s “The Golden Child” and roles in a pair of little-known 2003 films, “Henry X” and “Hey DJ.” She has also modeled for Playboy.

Editing by Jill Serjeant and Xavier Briand

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