Polanski denied chance to close 1977 rape case

A Los Angeles judge has refused to reopen the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to raping a 13-year-old but left the United States before sentencing. Judge James Brandlin, from the superior court of Los Angeles, turned down a request from Polanski’s lawyers, who wanted a new hearing to try and close the case on procedural grounds. Brandlin said the request had no constitutional basis, and the Academy Award-winning director of such films as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” had even fewer right to the procedural hearing than he did when he fled justice 37 years ago. In September 2009, Polanski, who became a French citizen in 1976 after moving there from Poland, was arrested in Switzerland on an international arrest warrant. After being held for months, he was released.

While this court is empowered to order an evidentiary hearing, it may also exercise its discretion by declining to do so.

Roman Polanski

In a nine-page ruling released on Wednesday, the judge also noted that the U.S. had consistently asked for Polanski’s extradition. In 1977, the filmmaker, then aged 43, was accused of raping Samantha Geimer after a photo shoot. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence. U.S. officials have pressed for his extradition regularly to no avail. Last October, US authorities unsuccessfully sought his arrest while he was in Poland. Geimer wrote a book about her encounter with Polanski last year. Geimer wrote she was made to drink champagne and was given a sleeping pill before being raped by Polanski in the house of actor Jack Nicholson.