US prosecutor says Polanski case transcripts can be unsealed

French director Roman Polanski went on the run after spending 42 days in prison for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1977
French director Roman Polanski went on the run after spending 42 days in prison for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1977.
Photo: VALERY HACHE / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Los Angeles prosecutors said Tuesday they will no longer oppose the release of sealed transcripts in the statutory rape case against Roman Polanski — documents which the fugitive director has previously argued could reveal judicial misconduct.

George Gascon, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said his office had “determined it to be in the interest of justice to agree to the unsealing of these transcripts.”

“This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest-running sagas in California criminal justice history,'” said Gascon in a statement.

“For years, this office has fought the release of information that the victim and public have a right to know.”

While it is not known what exactly the transcripts contain, they include testimony by former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, the first prosecutor to handle Polanski’s case.

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In 1977, French-Polish director Polanski was arrested after 13-year-old Samantha Gailey accused him of plying her with drugs and champagne and forcibly sodomizing her.

Seeking to spare the child a trial, prosecutors dropped the most serious charges in a plea deal, with Polanski accepting guilt for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

He served 42 days in prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

When it appeared that the judge, Laurence Rittenband, was set to reconsider and hand down a much lengthier prison sentence, Polanski fled to France, where he still resides.

The “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” director has not returned to the United States since, and has been engaged in a decades-long cat-and-mouse game with officials seeking his extradition, before a global audience split between continuing outrage and forgiveness for his acts.

According to Gascon’s statement, Polanski first requested the transcripts be unsealed “several years ago” in order to “conduct an investigation into alleged judicial misconduct.”

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Gascon also described the circumstances in which Polanski was initially treated by prosecutors as “extraordinary” and added that his office was committed to “transparency and accountability for all in the justice system.”

The Hollywood Reporter said the new request to see the transcripts came not from Polanski, but from two journalists.

Gailey publicly forgave Polanski in 1997, and said her treatment by the press and judicial system were worse than the original crime.

She has also previously called for the transcripts to be unsealed.

But Gascon’s statement concludes: “Polanski remains a fugitive from justice and should surrender himself to the Los Angeles County Superior Court to be sentenced.”

In more recent years, Polanski — now 88 — has also been accused of other historic sex crimes by different women.

He denies the allegations, for which the statute of limitations has expired.

Source: AFP

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