Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski is due in Los Angeles court on January 21 for a hearing in the now 31-year-old statutory rape case that caused him to flee the country in the late 70s. In an attempt to avoid the hearing, Polanksi's lawyers are asking a California judge to dismiss the case entirely in light of new evidence of judicial misconduct and victim's wishes, as presented in the HBO documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
For those unfamiliar with the case, here's a brief recap from the AP:
The case was a sensation when it broke. Polanski, the widower of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, was arrested for having sex with the girl, whom he had hired as a model for a photo shoot. He was accused of giving her Quaaludes and champagne, taking her into a hot tub nude, and having sex with her…The lawyers said the now-43-year-old victim, who never wanted Polanski to go to prison, should have the final say. They said the law requires the courts to consider a victim's wishes.
Polanski was initially indicted on six felony counts, but all were dropped except for one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, which would have likely netted Polanski a prison sentence of 16 months to three years, the Guardian notes.
The filing points to several instances of judicial misconduct, New York Times says. "Judge Rittenband, who is now dead, intentionally violated a plea agreement with Mr. Polanski after having engaged in what it called 'repeated unethical and unlawful ex parte communications' with a deputy district attorney who was not involved in the prosecution, but was independently advising the judge." In addition, the AP notes that the prosecuting attorney in the case, retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, was so appalled with the proceedings that he "said that if he had been in Polanski's position, he also would have fled the country."
Polanski has not returned to the U.S. since the late 70s, and from the statements of the Los Angeles D.A.'s office, it seems that filing or no filing, the prosecution wants Polanski back in the U.S.A before they make any decisions about the case. The D.A.'s office has not looked at the case yet, but "We're looking forward to seeing Mr. Polanski in Los Angeles to litigate it," Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley, tells the AP. Click here for the full PDF of the court filings from Polanksi's legal team.
Film Cited in Request to Dismiss Polanski Case [NY Times]
Polanski Asks Court to Dismiss Child-Sex Charge (PDF) [NY Times]
Roman Polanski Requests Dismissal Of Sex Charge [AP]
Polanski Seeks Dismissal Of 70s Sex Case [Guardian]