Director Roman Polanski who admitted to raping a 13-year-old girl and then fled the country to avoid prison, might be coming back to the United States. The Hollywood Reporter has a story up today about the history of the case and a change of approach to it coming from DA George Gascon’s office.
Polanski was arrested in 1977 for raping Samantha Geimer, then 13 years old. He accepted a plea agreement to dismiss five of the more serious charges — including rape by use of drugs — in exchange for pleading guilty to engaging in unlawful sex with a minor. His lawyers expected him not to serve any time in prison and get probation.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Polanski was allowed to travel to Europe to complete filming on a project. He fled to France after he learned that Judge Laurence Rittenband, who initially handled the case in the 1970s and died in 1993, was going to go back on the deal and instead put him behind bars for up to 50 years, according to a court filing recounting the case. Polanski has claimed that the judge was unduly influenced by a prosecutor, the press and fear of public backlash for handing him a lenient sentence…
In a letter to an appeals court filed on Tuesday, Gascón’s office claimed unsealing [prosecutor Roger] Gunson’s deposition is “in the interest of justice.” While Gascón initially opposed doing so because it appeared as if Polanski was trying to game the courts, he acknowledged that the petitioners in this instance are journalists with different interests than Polanski…
According to Gascón, a plea agreement between Polanski and prosecutors might have been breached. He claimed that there was a “backtracking of the original” deal.
“He had already served a period of time,” Gascón said. “As I remember, the agreement said that would be the maximum time he’d serve for the conduct.”
Polanski’s attorneys have been requesting that testimony of retired prosecutor Gunson be unsealed since 2010 and they have repeatedly been denied.
Polanski first requested Gunson’s testimony be unsealed in March, 2010, the Associated Press reported, and the motion was denied that May…
In 2017, Polanski’s lawyers again requested the Gunson testimony be unsealed, not to mention asking for an order clearing the way for Polanski to come back to L.A. without being made to serve any time above what he thinks he already served. Those requests were denied, but that year his victim, Samantha Geimer, appeared in L.A. court to ask a judge to end the case, calling it a “40-year-sentence” imposed on both her and the director, according to AP.
A Los Angeles judge rejected Geimer’s request to end Polanski’s case in August, 2017.
The story does mention some indication that the judge in this case was acting improperly and if Polanski really didn’t get a fair trial I guess we should find out. Still, he admitted his guilt and then fled the country. The idea that he should get a pass on raping a teenager will never sit well with me or a lot of people outside of Hollywood.
Speaking of Hollywood, there was a report back in February that some in Hollywood had turned on Gascon after the murder of Jaqueline Avant, the wife of a famous music producer. Avant was murdered in her home by a repeat offender. I wonder if this shift from Gascon’s office on the old case of an award winning director is intended to win back some of the support he lost. Now that it looks like his recall will be on the ballot I’m sure regaining that support is on Gascon’s mind.