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The judge broke the promise in the Polanski abuse case

THE ANGELS – A Los Angeles judge privately told lawyers he would break a promise and imprison Roman Polanski for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1977, a former prosecutor said, setting the stage for the renowned director to flee the United States as fugitive. .

A previously sealed transcript obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday afternoon from the testimony of retired Deputy Prosecutor Roger Gunson supports Polanski’s claim that he fled on the eve of the 1978 sentence because he did not think he was getting fair treatment.

Gunson said during a closed-door testimony in 2010 that the judge broke his promise to release Polanski after state prison officials determined he should not serve a difficult time.

“The judge promised him twice … something he denied,” Gunson said. “So I wasn’t surprised that when he was told he was going to be sent to state prison … that he couldn’t or wouldn’t trust the judge.”

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Polanski’s 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 him champagne and part of a sedative, and then forced him to have sex. The girl said 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 illegal sex with a minor in exchange for prosecutors abandoning the charges of drugs, rape and sodomy. He has since called for an end to the case.

Defense attorney Harland Braun said Friday – pending the publication of the transcript – that the development would renew its effort to have Polanski convicted in absentia, which would end his status as a fugitive from justice.

Braun tried it before without success, with prosecutors claiming and judges agreeing that Polanski must appear in Los Angeles Superior Court to resolve the matter.

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The release of the transcript, which was ordered Wednesday by a California appeals court after Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon dropped the long-standing objections his predecessors made to its release, may support the claims of Polanski that a corrupt judge was going to be derailed.

The legal saga has played on both sides of the Atlantic as a recurring scene over four decades of a life marked by tragedy and also by triumph.

As a child, Polanski escaped from the Krakow ghetto during the Holocaust. His wife, Sharon Tate, was among the seven people killed in 1969 by Charles Manson supporters.

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Polanski, 88, who was nominated for an Oscar for “Chinatown” in 1974 and “Tess” in 1979, won the Best Director statuette for “The Pianist” in 2003. But he could not accept it because he faces arrest. in the US

France, Switzerland and Poland have rejected proposals to extradite him back to the United States and he continues to be celebrated in Europe, winning praise and working with important actors. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, expelled him from his membership in 2018 after the #MeToo movement stimulated a calculation about sexual misconduct.

Polanski argued that there was misconduct in his case. In 2010, a Los Angeles court took Gunson’s sealed testimony about his memories of promises made to the director by the judge in 1977.

Polanski’s lawyers, who were in the courtroom during Gunson’s testimony but were unable to use him in court, have long sought to unseal that transcript to help his case.

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Judge Laurence Rittenband, now deceased, was influenced by the publicity of the case and changed his mind several times about the punishment Polanski would face, Braun said.

Following a report from parole officials that Polanski should not be behind bars, Rittenband sent the director to state prison for a 90-day diagnostic evaluation to help determine what punishment he should face.

The judge said that as long as Polanski received a favorable report from the prison, he would not serve additional time, Gunson said.

After six weeks of probation in prison, Polanski was released with a recommendation that he only serve parole, Braun said.

But Rittenband thought the reports of parole and imprisonment were superficial and a “tracing,” said Gunson, who agreed to downplay or misinterpret Polanski’s crimes.

The judge privately told Gunson and Polanski’s lawyer that he had to be tougher by media criticism.

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He said he would send Polanski to prison for a longer period, but that he would release him within 120 days, which was possible under the sentencing rules at the time.

“Roman says, ‘How can I trust the judge who lied twice?’ So go to Europe, ”Braun said.

Gunson acknowledged during his testimony that the judge had discretion to sentence Polanski to 50 years because there had been no agreed sentence. But Gunson opposed the “fake” trial the judge was orchestrating and felt he had broken promises to Polanski.

The victim, Samantha Geimer, has long advocated that the case be dismissed or that Polanski be convicted in absentia. Five years ago he even traveled from his home in Hawaii to Los Angeles to urge a judge to end “a 40-year sentence imposed on the victim of a crime as well as the perpetrator.”

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“I ask you to consider taking steps to finally close this matter as an act of mercy for myself and my family,” Geimer said.

The Associated Press does not usually name victims of sexual abuse, but Geimer was published years ago and wrote memoirs entitled “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.” The cover features a photo taken by Polanski.

Polanski agreed to pay Geimer more than $ 600,000 to settle a lawsuit in 1993.

Geimer, who pressed for an investigation into the misconduct, called for the transcript to be unfolded and in a letter last month and urged the prosecution office to review the case.

Prosecutors have consistently opposed the release of the material, but gave in earlier this week to fulfill Geimer’s wishes and be transparent with the public.

“This case has been described by the courts as‘ one of the longest sagas in the history of California criminal justice, ’” Gascon said in a statement. “For years, this office has fought against the disclosure of information that the victim and the public have a right to know.”

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However, the DA did not indicate that Polanski could avoid a court appearance. The press release says Polanski remains a fugitive and must be handed over to the court for sentencing.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The judge broke the promise in the Polanski abuse case

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