LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – A Los Angeles judge privately told lawyers that he would back out of a plea deal and imprison Roman Polanski for having sex with a teenage girl in 1977, a former prosecutor testified. Granted, it set the stage for the famous director to flee America. as a fugitive.
A pre-sealed transcript of testimony obtained late Sunday by the Associated Press by retired deputy district attorney Roger Gunson supports Polanski’s claim that he fled on the eve of sentencing in 1978 because he didn’t think he had to. Getting a fair deal.
Gunson said during closed-door testimony in 2010 that he was not surprised that Polanski fled when the judge broke several promises he made to his defense attorney.
“The judge had promised him on two occasions … something he denied,” Gunson said. “So it was not a surprise to me that, when told that he was going to be sent to a state prison … that he could or would not trust the judge.”
Defense attorney Harland Braun said on Friday – in anticipation of the release of the transcript – that the development would renew his attempt to sentence Polanski in absentia, which would end his status as a fugitive from justice.
Braun tried unsuccessfully before prosecutors insisted and judges agreed that Polanski needed to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court to resolve the case.
Transcript released, which was ordered Wednesday by a California appeals court Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon may support Polanski’s claims that he was being railroaded by a corrupt judge, after dropping long-standing objections made by his predecessors to its release.
The legal saga has played out on both sides of the Atlantic: A recurring scene in four decades of life that was also marred by tragedy and triumph.
As a child, Polanski escaped from the Krakow ghetto during the Holocaust, His wife, Sharon Tate, was among seven people murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.
Polanski, 88, who was nominated for Oscars for 1974’s “Chinatown” and 1979’s “Tess,” won the Best Director statuette in 2003 for “The Pianist.” But he could not accept it as he faced arrest. in America
France, Switzerland and Poland rejected bids to extradite her back to the United States, and she received acclaim in Europe and continues to work with leading actors. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him from its membership in 2018 after the “MeToo” movement sparked a speculation about sexual misconduct.
Polanski’s 13-year-old victim testified before a grand jury that during a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson’s home in March 1977, when the actor was not home, Polanski gave her champagne and a portion of a sedative, then had sex with her. forced to make. The girl said that she did not fight him because she was afraid of him but her mother later called the police.
When the girl refused to testify in court, Polanski pleaded guilty to illicit sex with a minor in exchange for dropping charges of drug, rape and sodomy by prosecutors.
Polanski has argued that there was judicial misconduct in his case. In 2010, a Los Angeles court took sealed testimony from Gunson about his memories of the promises the judge made to the director in 1977.
Polanski’s attorney, who was in the room during Gunson’s testimony but could not access it in court, has long sought to open that transcript to help with his case.
Braun said Judge Lawrence Rittenband, who is now defunct, was impressed by the publicity in the case and changed his mind several times about the sentencing to Polanski.
Following a report from probation officers that Polanski should serve no time behind bars, Rittenband sent the director to a state prison for a further 90 days of evaluation.
Braun said that after an evaluation of 42 days in prison, Polanski was released with the recommendation that he only be on probation.
But the judge then told the lawyers in private that they had to be tough because of criticism in the news media. He said he would send Polanski to prison for a longer period, but then release him within 120 days, which was possible under the sentencing rules.
“The Roman says, ‘How can I trust the judge who has lied twice?’ So he leaves for Europe, ”said Braun.
Gunson admitted during his testimony that the judge had discretion to sentence Polanski to any term because no sentence was agreed upon. But he felt that Rittenband had broken the promises made to Polanski.
The victim, Samantha Geimer, has long advocated that the case be dismissed or that Polanski be sentenced in absentia. She traveled to Los Angeles from her home in Hawaii five years ago to urge a judge to end her “40-year sentence imposed on the victim.” A crime as well as a criminal. ,
“I beg you to consider taking action to bring this matter to an end as an act of kindness to you and your family,” Geimer said.
The Associated Press doesn’t usually name victims of sexual abuse, but Geimer went public several years ago and wrote a memoir called “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.” The cover features a photo shot by Polanski.
Polanski agreed to pay Geimer more than $600,000 to settle a lawsuit in 1993.
Geimer, who pressed for a judicial misconduct investigation, in a letter last month urged the DA’s office to unseal the transcript and take a fresh look at the case.
Prosecutors have consistently objected to the release of the material, but relied earlier this week to respect Geimer’s wishes and be transparent with the public.
“This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest running sagas in California criminal justice history,'” Gascon said in a statement. “For years, this office has struggled to release information that the victim and the public have a right to know.”
However, the DA did not indicate that Polanski would avoid appearing in court. The press release said Polanski remains a fugitive and must surrender to the court for sentencing.