According to court transcripts, a US judge told lawyers that he would not accept a plea agreement and jail Roman Polanski, film director, for having sex in 1977 with a 13 year-old girl.
Polanski was convicted of one count each of unlawful sexual intercourse and a minor, statutory rape. He fled to France in August 1977 after being sentenced. Since then, he has been a fugitive.
The transcript of testimony by a former prosecutor in 2010 has been made public only after a decision to reverse the previous position by the LA district attorney. This was done to protect the documents so that the case could be reexamined 45 years later.
According to the Associated Press news agency which obtained the transcript Sunday, it supports Polanski’s claim of fleeing because he didn’t believe he was getting a fair deal.
Roger Gunson, a retired deputy district attorney, stated that he wasn’t surprised Polanski fled after the judge violated his defense lawyer’s promises.
Mr Gunson stated that the judge had made promises to him twice, something he never kept.” “So it was not surprising that when he was informed he would be sent to state prison, he didn’t trust the judge.
After the transcript was unsealed, Harland Braun, Polanski’s defense lawyer, stated that he would continue his efforts to have Polanski sentenced in absentia. This would end his status of fugitive.
Judges and prosecution have stated that Polanski must appear before a Los Angeles court to settle the case. France, Switzerland, and Poland rejected requests to extradite Polanski to the US.
Polanski won the Oscars best director award for The Pianist in 2003. However, he declined to accept the award because he could be arrested if he returned to the US.
After the MeToo movement in 2018, which led to a reckoning over sexual misconduct, the Academy expelled him.
What’s the deal with the plea bargain?
Laurence Rittenband (now deceased) was the judge who presided over this case in the 1970s.
Braun stated that the judge had changed his mind about how Polanski should be punished.
The director was sent to state prison for another 90 days after probation officials advised him that he should not be held behind bars.
Braun stated that he was allowed to be released on condition that he serve a 42-day probation period.
According to the transcript, however, the judge told lawyers privately that he needed to be more tough because of the criticisms from the media.
He stated that he would send Polanski to jail for a longer sentence, but would release him within 120 days. This was allowed under sentencing rules.
Roman says, “How can I trust the judge who’s lied twice?” Braun stated that Roman took off for Europe.
“A sentence on both the victim and perpetrator”
Samantha Geimer, who is the victim of the case, has advocated for the dismissal of the case or that Polanski’s sentence be given in absentia.
She appeared in court in LA in 2017 to ask for a judge’s abolition of “a 40-year sentence that has been imposed both on the victim and the perpetrator of a crime.”
Geimer wrote a memoir entitled The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski about her past.
She also demanded an investigation into judicial misconduct. It was a letter that she wrote to the LA District Attorney’s Office earlier in the year that led to the unsealing of the 2010 transcript.