LOS ANGELES, March 21 — Fugitive movie director Roman Polanski will have to wait up to three months to hear whether he can resolve his four-decade-old rape case without serving more jail time in the United States.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon yesterday heard arguments from prosecutors and Polanski’s lawyer on the latest bid to end the case, but said he would reserve making any decision for up to 90 days.
Attorney Harland Braun asked Gordon to rule that Polanski fulfilled his time behind bars in 1977, when he served 42 days ahead of sentencing for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
With that assurance, the Rosemary’s Baby director would fly from Paris immediately to the United States for sentencing, Braun said.
The case of French-Polish Polanski has been a cause celebre for 40 years. Following his guilty plea in 1977 and time in jail, he fled the United States, fearing a plea bargain with authorities at that time would be overruled and that he would get a lengthy jail term.
“He knows what he was promised in the sentencing. He knows the time he’s done. He’s not trying to bargain,” Braun told yesterday’s hearing.
“Mr. Polanski is 83 and just wants to settle this case, wants it over with. The crime that he committed is indefensible. He’s never tried to deny it,” he added.
Los Angeles prosecutors, however, said Polanski was asking for special treatment and there should be no discussion on what sentence he would get until he returns to the United States.
“This case is 40 years old because the defendant fled. Not only did he flee, he’s fought all efforts to get him to return. (We) simply don’t believe it’s in the best interest to give a wealthy celebrity any different treatment than any other fugitive,” said Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee.
Polanski was arrested on US warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade, but both countries declined to extradite him.
Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, has long made clear she believes Polanski’s self-imposed exile has been punishment enough.
Braun has said Polanski wants to be able to travel freely and to be able to visit the grave in the United States of his wife, Sharon Tate, who was murdered in Los Angeles by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.
Polanski’s career has flourished despite the rape case. In 2003, he won an Oscar for directing the Holocaust film The Pianist but did not travel to the United States to collect it. — Reuters