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Charlotte Lewis, Roman Polanski

AP Photo/Reed Saxon; AP Photo / Roberto Pfeil

Where there's smoke there's fire?

A second accuser has stepped forward, lobbing some now familiar yet no less damning allegations against embattled director Roman Polanski.

British actress Charlotte Lewis today held a press conference with camera-ready attorney Gloria Allred, claiming that she, too, was sexually victimized by Polanski back in 1982 when she was all of 16 years old.

The alleged incident took place in the director's Paris apartment, just four years after Polanski fled the U.S. to avoid sentencing for unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old.

"Mr. Polanski knew I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris," Lewis, now 42, said. "He took advantage of me, and I have lived with the effects of his behavior ever since it occurred."

But while this encounter may be as morally cut-and-dry as his previous offense, it may be a bit stickier, law-wise.

In France, the legal age of consent is 15. However, that restriction only applies to consensual activities. Rape—and that is what Lewis is alleging, in so many words—is a charge not dependent on age.

 

"I don't believe that is relevant for reasons that have to do with the particular facts that she has alleged to the LAPD and to the D.A.," Allred said, alluding to the charge. "In other words, that is not essential to the allegations."

Also curious is that four years later, in 1986, Lewis appeared in the Polanski-directed Pirates, the first and only film of his she starred in. She has since gone on to have a solid career, racking up credits in Seinfeld (she played George's model girlfriend whom Kramer thought was bulimic), The Red Shoe Diaries, Renegade and Highlander.

As for why Lewis chose to step forward now, it's all about the timing of Polanski's sentencing, and ensuring he's not let off easy for his first long-outstanding (and admitted) offense.

"The defense, for example, 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," she said. "The judge, however, can also consider credible claims of predatory conduct after Mr. Polanski fled when determining the appropriate sentence for Mr. Polanski."

In other words, all those claims that it was a one-off, that he was immediately rehabilitated or that apologist catch-all that "things were different back then," would pretty much be shot.

"If the court believes and gives weight to Charlotte's allegations, then Mr. Polanski deserves no compassion for the commission of his original crime to which he entered a plea, and no compassion for his age or the number of years that have passed since that crime was committed," Allred said.

"Even if you are rich, famous and powerful, if you become a fugitive from justice, you will not get a pass because no one is above the law."

Allred also confirmed during the press conference that she and Lewis met yesterday with a detective from the Los Angeles Police Department as well as someone from the Deputy District Attorney's Office to give full details of the complaint.

"Even though Charlotte was afraid to report her allegations to law enforcement at the time the incident allegedly occurred (for reasons common to many victims) she did present fresh complaint evidence to law enforcement and it is in their possession.

"Charlotte is also ready to testify under oath if, as and when that would ever be necessary in the legal process."

Polanski remains under house arrest in Switzerland is currently fighting extradition to the U.S.

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