Roman Polanski, the Oscar-winning filmmaker and fugitive from California justice, will remain a fugitive, unable to return to the U.S. without being jailed for rape and fleeing justice, under an order issued by a Los Angeles judge late Monday.
Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon issued his ruling following a March 20 hearing, denying Polanski's motions and corresponding requests to resolve the 40-year-old case. The 13-page order was filed but not made public online.
Gordon also set an April 26 date for yet another hearing, on Polanski's motion to unseal sworn testimony by a Los Angeles deputy district attorney that he believes could help his case. Polanski argues the testimony contains vital information and should be made public.
The case dates from 1977 when Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old girl after giving her champagne and a sedative, which is statutory rape. He was arrested, spent time in jail, then pleaded guilty in a plea bargain. He fled the country in 1978 after becoming convinced the judge in the case, now deceased, planned to sentence him to a lengthy prison term.
The accuser, now in her 50s, says she's forgiven Polanski and thinks the case should end. Gordon's decision means the case will go on, at least when it comes to Polanski's restricted ability to travel.
In the decades after he fled, Polish-born Polanski, 83, has been unable to return to the U.S., his travel restricted to France, where he lives, Switzerland and Poland. All three countries have rejected U.S. requests to extradite Polanski, although he spent nearly a year in jail or house arrest during the Swiss proceedings.
Polanski's lawyer, Harland Braun, sought to persuade Gordon and prosecutors to honor the original plea bargain, including the alleged promise not to sentence Polanski to additional time. Braun argued Polanski's sentence should be declared already served, having exceeded the sentence in the original plea bargain during a period he was locked up in Switzerland.
Courts in Poland and Switzerland have turned down separate extradition requests by U.S. officials in recent years, citing procedural irregularities in the original case against Polanski.
The district attorney's office, which has doggedly pursued the filmmaker through the decades and still wants to put him in jail, objected to Polanski's latest bid to end the case, and declined to indicate whether he would be immediately jailed should he return.
Gordon came down on the district attorney's side, citing past California rulings in the case.