Judge refuses to end Roman Polanski sex assault case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge on Friday denied the impassioned plea of Roman Polanski’s victim to end a four-decade-old sexual assault case against the fugitive director.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski must return to California if he expects to resolve charges of sexually abusing a teen. The Oscar winner fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.
Gordon’s ruling follows a fervent request by Samantha Geimer to end a “40-year sentence” she says was imposed on both perpetrator and victim. It was issued on Polanski’s 84th birthday and blamed the director for the fact that the case was still alive.
“Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long-lasting and traumatic effect these crimes, and defendant’s refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life,” Gordon wrote.
Harland Braun, Polanski’s attorney, said the ruling came after the judge asked for proposals on how to resolve the case. Braun’s proposals include several that previously were rejected by the court.
Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with Geimer when she was 13. She has said he drugged, raped and sodomized her.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of sex abuse, but Geimer went public years ago.
After he became a fugitive, his attorneys have failed to persuade judges to sentence him in absentia and credit him for the 42 days he was incarcerated for psychological testing before he fled.
Geimer has long supported Polanski’s efforts but made her plea in court for the first time in June. After her statement, the director’s lawyers reiterated their request for the case to be dismissed, or Polanski to be sentenced without appearing in court.
Geimer told the judge that she was deeply disappointed Polanski had not been able to resolve the case with prosecutors and implored Gordon to “bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy to myself and my family.”
Gordon’s ruling Friday noted that a court “may not dismiss the case merely because it would be in the victim’s best interest.”
Geimer has said she was more traumatized by the legal system and the fallout from the case than she had been by Polanski. In downplaying Polanski’s actions, Geimer’s position was at odds with many sexual assault victims and an outcry about lenient sentences in sex abuse cases.
Gordon had praised Geimer for her courage and elegant words but also expressed skepticism that Polanski could resolve the case without appearing in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee had insisted that Polanski show up in court to face his fate.
Polanski contends that he fled when the original judge in the case suggested in private remarks that he would renege on a plea agreement. It called for no more time behind bars for the director after he spent 42 days in a prison for tests.
Polanski has tried for years to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant that confined him to his native France, Switzerland and Poland, where he fled the Holocaust.
The warrant prevented him from collecting his Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film “The Pianist.” He was also nominated for 1974′s “Chinatown” and 1979′s “Tess.”
Geimer said she didn’t excuse what Polanski did but said she felt he had served his sentence and wasn’t being treated fairly.
Polanski had been shooting photos of the girl at Jack Nicholson’s house when he gave her champagne and part of a sedative pill before raping her in March 1977, according to grand jury transcripts. Nicholson was not home at the time.
Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in exchange for dropping drug, rape and sodomy charges.
Associated Press Writer Brian Melley contributed to this report.