Movie director Roman Polanski is back in the news. He’s been living in Europe for almost four decades after fleeing the United States in early 1978 on the eve of being sentenced for raping a minor. You can read the complaint and grand jury testimony from 1977 on the Documents page. Polanski had reached a plea deal and hoped for a non-incarceration sentence–either credit for the 42 days he had already served during a psychiatric evaluation or another equally light sentence. At the eleventh hour, he reportedly received a tip that the judge was going to send him to jail for more time than Polanksi expected. That’s when he fled the country.
The State of California through the Los Angeles DA’s office is prosecuting the case and has tried over the years to extradite Polanski so that he can be sentenced. I recall discussing the matter with deputy DAs in 2009 when I was covering the manslaughter case of Conrad Murray–the doctor convicted of killing Michael Jackson. The latest extradition effort ended in a December 2016 defeat for the LA DA when Poland’s highest court said Polanski would not be extradited. (Polanski has dual citizenship in France and Poland.) Switzerland also refused to extradite Polanski in 2010.
Polanski’s attorneys are now attempting to close the case by asking the court to allow him to return for sentencing with a promise of no further incarceration. At a hearing on March 20, 2017, the LA DA’s office opposed this latest effort and said that Polanski must appear, in person, in order to request that the case be disposed of with no further jail time; that he needs to be treated like all defendants and not be afforded special treatment, despite his age, wealth, and fame. Polanski is now 83 years old. Previously, the LA DA’s office had said that Polanski faces up to two more years in prison. It’s unclear if that continues to be their position. In 1977, Polanski had taken an “open plea” to unlawful sex with a minor. An open (guilty) plea leaves sentencing up to the judge.
LA Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon did not rule immediately. He has 90 days to render a decision.
Samantha Gailey nee Geimer, the victim in the statutory rape that took place at Jack Nicholson’s home, published a memoir in 2013, and supports dismissal of the charges. She was 13 years old when she was assaulted by Polanski; he was 43 years old at the time.