Roman Polanski loses latest bid to end 40-year-old underage sex case

Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski will remain a fugitive from California justice under a judge's ruling Friday.

Polanski's latest effort to get his 40-year-old underage sex case dismissed was rejected by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon following a series of hearings, including one in which his victim urged that the case be dismissed.

Samantha Geimer, who was 13 in 1977 but has come to the director's defense in recent years, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that the ruling was "a heavy blow on my hopes (but) I will push on despite my tears and disappointment."

Polanski must return to California and face consequences, including arrest and jail, if he expects to resolve the 1977 charges of sexually abusing a teen, Gordon said in a ruling that came on Polanski's 84th birthday.

His 10-page ruling amounted to a sharp slap at the director and his lawyers for continuing to argue that his case should be dismissed without Polanski's return to California. Polanski fled in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor (Geimer) in 1977.

His motion for dismissal had to be juxtaposed with his continued refusal to obey court orders, Gordon wrote.

"This is the 'heads I win, tails you'll never find me' dynamic that arises when a fugitive seeks to undercut criminal proceedings against himself without being subject to the criminal justice system," Gordon wrote.

Geimer, now 54, appeared in Gordon's court in June seeking to end a "40-year sentence" she said was imposed on both Polanski and herself, his victim. Geimer has repeatedly said she was more traumatized by the legal system than she had been by Polanski.

Gordon praised Geimer for her courage, but said in the ruling that a court "may not dismiss the case merely because it would be in the victim's best interest." He blamed Polanski for her trauma.

"Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long-lasting and traumatic effect these crimes, and defendant's refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life," Gordon wrote.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee insisted at the hearings that Polanski had to show up in court to face his fate, and Gordon agreed. Hanisee declined to comment on the ruling.

Gordon cited case law and precedents in reaching his decision. The only thing that has changed about the case after all these years, Gordon wrote, is that Polanski and his lawyers have extended their "attacks" on the state judicial system and its officers.

"Such conduct is not the basis for the relief requested by the defendant," Gordon concluded.

Polanski's lawyer, Harland Braun, said he has not spoken to Polanski yet but predicted the director would be unsurprised and disappointed.

But Braun was peeved. He said Judge Gordon issued his ruling before receiving Polanski's offer of proposals on how to resolve the matter — proposals Braun said the judge asked for. Braun's proposals include several that previously were rejected by the court.

"Our offer is still good," Braun said. "(Polanski) promised to come back. He was promised 43 days (in prison originally), he's already done 343 days, he's 80-plus-years-old, the victim wants this over. What competent court can’t figure this one out?"

Almost 40 years ago Polanski was charged with statutory rape and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful sex with a minor. In 1978, on the eve of sentencing, he fled to France, fearing that the judge in the case (now dead) was going to renege on the plea agreement and send him away for more time than the six weeks he had already served in prison during a psychiatric evaluation prior to sentencing. (He later served more time in Switzerland during proceedings there.)

He's been a fugitive ever since, with an international arrest warrant confining him to France, Switzerland and his native Poland. The warrant prevented Polanski from collecting his Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film The Pianist.

Gordon's ruling means Polanski is still a fugitive, unable to travel to Hollywood or to much of Europe. Braun said his next move will be to appeal to the California Courts of Appeal.

Braun also intends, with Polanski's British lawyers, to take his case to the European Commission, seeking to have the international warrant thrown out at least in Europe. Poland and Switzerland have already rejected that warrant, citing California's refusal to produce documents in the case.

"(The commission) can recall the warrant as no longer valid" as well, Braun said.

The main thing, said Polanski's lawyer, is that it's still not over. "I never give up," Braun said.

Geimer, while disappointed with the ruling, appeared from her statement to be more upset with a woman who came forward this week (through lawyer Gloria Allred) to accuse Polanski of raping her when she was 16. The woman said she came forward after 44 years of silence because she was "infuriated" by Geimer's support for Polanski.

"For those who are infuriated by my desire to see this matter finally put to rest, misconduct revealed or not, I can only say your callous disregard shows who you are," Geimer's statement said. "Those who have no sympathy for the anguish of myself or my family care not for victims of sexual assault. Victims are not a commodity to be used to pursue their own agendas."

Contributing: The Associated Press

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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