Roman Polanski jail plea for rape case rejected by US judge

Film-maker Roman Polanski has failed to win assurances from a US court that he will not face prison over a decades-old case involving sex with a minor

4 April 2017, 8:37am
Roman Polanski fled the US ahead of his sentencing for statutory rape in 1978
Roman Polanski fled the US ahead of his sentencing for statutory rape in 1978
The Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has failed to win assurances from a US court that he will not face prison over a decades-old case involving sex with a minor.

California Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon agreed with the district attorney’s position that as a fugitive, Polanski is not entitled to make any requests of the court.

Gordon refused to acknowledge a promise Polanski says the initial judge on the case made to him in 1977 that the time he spent in state prison for a diagnostic examination would be all his time in custody.

"Polanski cannot avail himself of the court while standing in contempt of it," Gordon said.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and fled on the eve of sentencing. He said the judge reneged on a promise to sentence him to probation after he underwent a diagnostic study at a California prison.

Lawyers for the 83-year-old said he was willing to return to the US after nearly 40 years on the run if he was assured he would not serve more jail time.

At a hearing before Judge Gordon last month, prosecutors urged Polanski to return to the US for sentencing and said he should not receive special treatment as a “wealthy celebrity”.

In a statement on Monday, a Los Angeles superior court spokesman said that a judge rejected the motion by Polanski's lawyers.

"Judge (Scott) Gordon has ruled that (the) defendant's motions and corresponding requests are denied," a document released on Monday from Los Angeles Superior Court said.

Since he fled the US, Polanski, best known for the films Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist,  has been confined to three countries: France, Switzerland and his native Poland.

Polanski’s lawyer, Harland Braun, said Gordon’s order failed to address what he called the central issue in the case: misconduct by several previous judges who handled the case.

Gordon’s ruling says Polanski and Braun had “not presented sufficient credible, admissible evidence or legal arguments to warrant the requested relief,” Braun argued.

Previous rulings have stated that the only way Polanski can address his allegations is to return to Los Angeles for his sentencing hearing. 

In December, Poland's Supreme Court rejected a request to have him extradited.

Swiss authorities turned down a US extradition warrant in 2010 after placing Polanski under house arrest for nine months.

Polanski’s lawyer, Harland Braun has said Polanski’s confinement in jail and house arrest in this period meant the director has already served his sentence.