Judge Refuses to Dismiss Roman Polanski Rape Case

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A state court judge on Friday rejected fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski’s latest effort to have his 40-year-old rape case dismissed and refused to unseal testimony from a former county prosecutor that the director had hoped would aid his bid to avoid jail time.

In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with 13-year-old Samantha Gailey, now Samantha Geimer. But after a judge sentenced the “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” director to 42 days in state prison, he fled the country for Europe.

Polanski had asked Gordon to offer him assurances that if he returned to the United States, the court would take into account the time he had already served.

In court papers filed on Friday, his attorney Harland Braun said the 83-year-old director had already served 334 days in a Swiss jail in addition to the time he served in California. Polanski should not face arrest because he “does not owe additional custody time to the court.”

Los Angeles County Judge Laurence Rittenband had sentenced the Oscar-winning director to 43 days in a Chino prison. But Braun said Rittenband later bowed to media and prosecutorial pressure and threatened to send Polanski to prison for 50 years and “promised to recall the sentence once the publicity died down.”

“This resolution should satisfy the court’s concern that every defendant must return to court for sentencing, leave Mr. Polanski’s conviction intact, and satisfy Ms. Geimer’s request the case be terminated,” Braun wrote.

But on Friday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon found that Polanski lacked legal standing because of his refusal to obey court orders and return to the United States to appear in court, and that in the interests of justice the case should proceed.

“The defendant in this matter stands as a fugitive and refuses to comply with court orders. As eloquently described by Ms. Geimer, his conduct continues to harm her and compounds the trauma of the sexual assault committed against her that gave rise to this case,” Gordon wrote in a 10-page ruling.

Braun said the ruling made “absolutely no sense” and that he was considering an appeal.

“He’ll come in. Everyone agrees he was promised 43 days. Even the DA says he’s done 334 days. So what’s the problem?” Braun said in a phone interview. “And now particularly with the victim coming in and saying let’s put an end to it, how can a competent judicial system not resolve a 40-year-old case with an 84-year-old defendant and a 50-year-old victim, when he’s already done more time than he was promised?”

He said he had not spoken to Polanski yet but that he had sent him the court’s ruling.

“I’m sure he’s disappointed, but he’s not surprised,” Braun said.

In June, Geimer asked the court to throw out the case because of the impact of the long-running legal saga on her and her family.

Gordon noted that Geimer’s statement “is strong evidence of the actual and very real impact of sexual assault has on the survivor of sexual assault.”

He added, “In this case, Ms. Geimer was a victim of serious crimes committed by the defendant when she was 13 years old, and defendant was in his early 40s. Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long lasting and traumatic effect of the crimes, and defendant’s refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life.”

Gordon added that in the interests of justice the court would not the dismiss case just because it is in the victim’s interest to do so.

The judge found Polanski had offered no new evidence to support his motion to unseal a transcript of an examination of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson. Polanski asked the court to make the documents public because he contends they shed light on a deal that would have meant he only spent 43 days in jail, according to Braun.

On Tuesday, a woman identifying herself as “Robin” came forward claiming that Polanski “sexually victimized” her in Southern California when she was 16 years old. Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred represents the woman.

Seven years ago, British actress Charlotte Lewis claimed the filmmaker had sexually assaulted her when she was 16 before production on the movie the “Pirates.” Allred also represented Lewis, who said the alleged assault happened at Polanski’s Paris apartment.

Polanski is still the subject of an international arrest warrant.

Courthouse News has contacted the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for comment.

 

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