Roman Polanski Media Reports Archive
News reports and legal information related to Roman Polanski's arrest, plea bargain, guilty plea, conviction, flight from justice, and fugitive status on charges of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Please note: because there are so many cyber-chumps who "trust the Web," and because rumors, myths, and outright disinformation have been generated and disseminated concerning Roman Polanski, The Zero has established a "one-stop shop" for purely factual information, so that those actually interested in the truth can find it. What you will not find here is commentary, editorials, analysis, opinion, or hearsay. If that's what you are looking for, go find a newsgroup. If you want the truth, here it is.
Statute of Limitations Halts Prosecution of Polanski for Alleged Rape of Another Teen
Originally published by New York Daily News, November 9, 2017.
Another woman accuses Polanski of child sexual abuse
Originally published by New York Daily News, October 21, 2017.
Roman Polanski Accused of Rape by Former German Actress
Originally published by the New York Times, October 3, 2017.
Judge rejects "victim request" to dismiss Polanski case
Originally published by The Guardian, August 19, 2017.
Roman Polanski seeks to have prosecutor's testimony unsealed.
Originally published by AP, February 16, 2017.
Roman Polanski faces new extradition challenge over child sex conviction.
Originally published by the Hollywood Reporter, May 31, 2016.
Poland will not extradite Roman Polanski to U.S. after prosecutors decline court ruling challenge
Originally published by the associated press, November 27, 2015
Roman Polanski 'very happy' US extradition rejected
Originally published by the guardian, October 30, 2015
Roman Polanski, the sequel
Originally published by nydailynews.com, August 13, 2015
U.S. asks Poland to extradite Roman Polanski over child sex case
Originally published by nydailynews.com, January 7, 2015
The extradition request comes a few weeks after a Los Angeles judge denied the filmmaker's request to dismiss the case. Polanski remains an international fugitive after he pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.
WARSAW, Poland -- Poland has been asked to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States, where he is wanted on 1977 charges of sex with a minor, an official said Wednesday.
Spokesman for the prosecutor general, Mateusz Martyniuk, told The Associated Press that the request from Los Angles prosecutors was being forwarded to Krakow, where Polanski's case is handled.
In October, Krakow prosecutors refused a U.S. request to arrest Polanski, 81, but questioned him and obliged him to turn up on every summons. Polanski was in Warsaw for the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and then traveled to Krakow, his childhood city.
The Oscar-winning director plans to make a movie on the Dreyfus affair, the early 20th century French spy scandal, in Poland in February and March.
One of Polanski's lawyers, Jerzy Stachowicz, said Wednesday that the team would contest the extradition bid. Martyniuk said that as a rule Poland does not extradite its citizens.
In December, a judge in Los Angeles rejected Polanski's bid for a new hearing.
Paris-born to Polish Jewish parents, Polanski spent his childhood and youth in Poland but lives in France. He holds Polish and French passports, but his movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries. He travels freely between Switzerland, France and Poland.
© Copyright 2015 NYDailyNews.com
Rejected: Roman Polanski's latest bid to dismiss sex case
By Crimesider Staff AP
LOS ANGELES - Director Roman Polanski lost his latest bid to have a California court dismiss his 1977 sex case when a judge rejected a motion for a new hearing.
A nine-page order issued Tuesday by Superior Court Judge James Brandlin states that Polanski's claims of judicial misconduct cannot be addressed because he remains a fugitive outside the country after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.
Polanski's lawyers have sought a public evidentiary hearing for the case, claiming a judge who handled the matter in 2008 and 2009 committed misconduct by failing to properly consider a dismissal motion due to pressure from a presiding judge.
Bart Dalton, an attorney for Polanski, said he had not yet seen the latest order and could not comment.
Brandlin's order states Polanski has other options in his latest push to dismiss the case, including returning to California to address his claims.
In a 1977 deal with prosecutors, the Oscar-winning director pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape for having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles.
Polanski was ordered to undergo a psychiatric study at the state prison in Chino, where he served 42 days.
The prosecutor and Polanski's attorney have said they understood from a private conversation with the judge handling the case that the time in the prison would serve as Polanski's punishment.
However, lawyers for the Polish-born director said the judge later reneged on the agreement and suggested Polanski would go back to prison. Polanski then fled to France.
Polanski sought a dismissal of the case in 2008, but his motion was denied in a ruling that was upheld by an appellate court.
Several efforts to extradite Polanski to California have failed.
Polanski was accepting an award in 2009 in Switzerland, where he has a home, when he was arrested and served 290 days - first in jail and then under house arrest - before Swiss authorities rejected a U.S. request to extradite him and declared he could travel to Switzerland anytime he wanted.
In October of this year, Polanski, 81, attended the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw before traveling to Krakow, his childhood city. Polish authorities questioned him there in response to a U.S. request but refused to arrest him.
Polanski's attorneys have said the latest extradition request neglected to say the director had served 42 days of court-ordered prison time in 1977.
"The DA's deliberate omission in its letter was plainly calculated to deceive the Polish government into believing that Polanski is 'extraditable' under the extradition treaty between the United States and Poland, when, in fact, he is not," the filing said.
Polanski won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film "The Pianist" and was nominated for 1974's "Chinatown" and 1979's "Tess."
Copyright © 2015 CBS
Swiss Reject U.S. Request to Extradite Polanski
By Nick Cumming-Bruce and Michael Cieply
GENEVA — Roman Polanski's repeated claims that there was misconduct at his trial for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 ran into a brick wall in American courts. But they were enough apparently to convince Swiss authorities that he should walk free.
Switzerland announced Monday that it would not extradite Mr. Polanski, a famous film director, to the United States in part because of fresh doubts over the conduct of the judge in his original trial.
The ruling means that, after nearly a year of courtroom wrangling in the United States and Switzerland, the case is roughly where it has been for decades: Mr. Polanski is free to return to his home in France but remains wanted in the United States. He was arrested at the Zurich airport last September on an international warrant issued by the United States on charges including rape and sodomy dating from 1977.
In December, the Swiss authorities allowed him to move to his chalet in the ski resort of Gstaad under house arrest on bail of $4.5 million pending a decision on his extradition.
Mr. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after he had pleaded guilty to one count of having unlawful sex with a minor and spent 42 days in psychiatric evaluation in Chino State Prison.
The arrest and the request for extradition opened up a cultural divide both in the United States and Europe as filmmakers, intellectuals, politicians and victims' rights groups lined up on either side of the debate. At issue: had Mr. Polanski suffered enough for his crimes, as his supporters argued, or were his celebrity and talent obscuring the serious nature of the charges against him?
The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said he was "delighted" and deeply relieved by the ruling.
Samantha Geimer, who at 13 was Mr. Polanski's victim in the original sex case, has long disclosed her identity and called to end the prosecution.
Joelle Casteix, the western regional director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said she was "grossly disappointed." Ms. Casteix, whose group assists the victims of sexual abuse, added, "This sends a message that if the abuser is rich and powerful, that person can flee the country and get away scot free."
The decision to free Mr. Polanski was a sharp defeat for prosecutors in Los Angeles, who had warded off repeated challenges by insisting that Mr. Polanski's claims to have been wronged by authorities in the past could not be considered until his fugitive status had ended. Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, is the Republican candidate for state attorney general.
In a statement, Mr. Cooley said his office would continue to pursue extradition if Mr. Polanski were arrested somewhere other than Switzerland.
"Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements" of the treaty with Switzerland, Mr. Cooley said. All of the original charges against Mr. Polanski are still pending, Mr. Cooley noted, because he was never sentenced under a plea agreement that reduced those to just unlawful sex with a minor.
Lanny A. Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, said that the Obama administration was still looking at its options about what to do next but was "deeply disappointed" by the Swiss decision.
"We thought our extradition request was completely supported by the treaty, completely supported by the facts and the law, and the underlying conduct was of course very serious," Mr. Breuer said.
In effect, Mr. Polanski's United States legal team worked around the prosecutors, by hammering in many of his claims in appeals court briefs that — while not directly successful in ending the case — appear to have made an impression on the Swiss. In choosing to free Mr. Polanski, the Swiss, at least to some extent, passed judgment on the conduct of the case in Los Angeles.
"I think they're raising eyebrows about what happened," said Laurie L. Levenson, a professor of law at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
The turning point in the case occurred in mid-March, when Mr. Polanski's lawyers disclosed in an appeals brief that Roger Gunson, a now-retired lawyer who originally prosecuted the case, had given sealed testimony describing a plan by Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, the original judge, to limit Mr. Polanski's sentence to a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, a portion of which Mr. Polanski had served during his 42 days in Chino State Prison.
Mr. Gunson, who gave the testimony in January, also described his own reservations about the handling of the case by Judge Rittenband, who is now deceased.
Courts here refused to open Mr. Gunson's testimony, which was taken provisionally, because he was gravely ill, and was supposed to be used at Mr. Polanski's eventual sentencing. But Mr. Polanski's legal team described the testimony in court filings that were widely described by media outlets.
The Swiss authorities, without success, requested access to the Gunson account, arguing that it would have established whether the judge had assured Mr. Polanski that time he spent in a psychiatric unit would constitute the whole of his period of imprisonment.
"If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence, and therefore both the proceedings on which the U.S. extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation," the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Mr. Polanski's legal team in the United States declined to comment. Reached by telephone Monday morning, Mr. Gunson said he was unaware of the decision and declined to comment.
Georges Kiejman, one of Mr. Polanski's lawyers in Europe, said Monday's decision was a vindication of sorts, and a step toward resolving what he called an "American misunderstanding" of Mr. Polanski's case.
Mr. Kiejman said he hoped Mr. Polanski would one day be able to return freely to the United States. "Intellectually and artistically, it's one of his adoptive homelands," he said.
Mr. Polanski would have faced an uncertain future if he had been returned for sentencing. As he was held over the last nine and a half months, prosecutors did not make clear their specific plans for him, but they signaled that a sentence much longer than 90 days might be in order.
In May, for instance, David Walgren, currently the lead prosecutor in the case, took a sworn statement from Charlotte Lewis, a British actress who, at a Los Angeles press conference, said she was subjected to an unwanted sexual encounter with Mr. Polanski in the early 1980s.
Monday's decision by the Swiss was presumably a boost for Marina Zenovich, a documentary filmmaker whose "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" brought the case to new prominence in 2008 by airing interviews in which prosecutors and others described Judge Rittenband's claimed missteps.
Ms. Levenson said prosecutors and judges who have handled the case in recent years appear to have acted correctly, but that clearly was not sufficient in this case.
"The lesson may be that it's really hard to go back in time 30 years to remedy a case," Ms. Levenson said. "If you don't get justice at the right time, you may not get it at all."
© Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company
The Celebrity Defense: Sex, fame, and the case of Roman Polanski
By Jeffrey Toobin
Click here to read the complete article.
© Copyright 2010 Conde Nast Digital
What's "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse"?
By Brian Palmer
Film director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on Saturday and faces possible extradition to the United States. In 1977, Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in the home of actor Jack Nicholson. The sensational case raises a variety of questions, answered herewith.
Why did the Swiss choose this moment to arrest Polanski?
Polanski pleaded guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse" with a minor. What's the difference between that and statutory rape?
The California Penal Code currently defines unlawful sexual intercourse as sexual contact with anyone under 18. The penalties become more severe as the age gap widens.
Some news sources have reported that at the time of Polanski's crime, the age of consent was either 14 or 16. This is incorrect. California's first penal code in 1850 proscribed sex with girls under the age of 10. The age of consent was raised to 14 in 1889, to 16 in 1897, and finally to 18 in 1913, where it has remained since that time.
Polanski molested his victim more than 30 years ago. Hasn't the statute of limitations run on his crime?
© Copyright 2009 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
Filmmaker Roman Polanski's arrest to spark extradition fight
By Jason Rhodes and Bob Tourtellotte
ZURICH/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fugitive director Roman Polanski, whose tumultuous life has overshadowed his film career, was arrested this weekend in Zurich after U.S. authorities sought to have him extradited to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Polanski, 76, was taken into custody on Saturday after arriving in Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival the next day.
Amid protests from his native France and from his former homeland of Poland, he now faces a court battle over extradition, and perhaps even a new trial in Los Angeles.
"Some form of justice will finally be done," said Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. "He received a very, very, very lenient sentence back then, which would never be achievable under today's laws, and we'll see what the court wants to do in terms of the sentence and the parameters within the case settlement they had back then."
He did not say what sentence prosecutors would recommend.
Polanski fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing because he believed a judge might overrule his plea and put him in jail for 50 years. But a 2008 film documentary has prompted new questions of judicial misconduct, and his lawyers have tried unsuccessfully to get his case dismissed.
Polanski has avoided countries such as Britain that have extradition treaties with the United States. He has never returned to Los Angeles, where his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.
French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was "stunned" to hear about the arrest, his office said, adding President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case and hoped the matter could be resolved, allowing Polanski to return to his family.
"We are going to try to lift the arrest warrant in Zurich ... the (extradition) convention between Switzerland and the United States is not very clear," Polanski's lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told France Info radio.
Another lawyer, Herve Temime, was quoted as telling French newspaper Le Figaro that Polanski has regularly visited Switzerland and even owns a chalet in a ski village.
LONG ARM OF THE LAW
Los Angeles County District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said her office learned last week Polanski would be in Zurich and sent a provisional arrest warrant to the Swiss.
The Swiss Federal Justice Department said the extradition warrant and any final decision could be challenged in court.
Polanski was initially arrested in the United States in 1977 and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to the minor and having unlawful sex with her at actor Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home. Nicholson was not in the house at the time.
The director maintained the girl was sexually experienced and consented. Polanski spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests and eventually agreed to plead guilty and receive a sentence of time served.
The case was the subject of a 2008 film documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" that included interviews with the victim, Samantha Geimer of Hawaii, and lawyers for both sides.
It argues, in part, that Polanski was the victim of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. In a 2008 interview, Geimer told Reuters Polanski should not face any jail time.
Based on what they said was new evidence in the film, Polanski's lawyers tried to have the case dismissed, but were denied their attempt earlier this year by a Los Angeles judge.
Los Angeles criminal defense specialist Steve Cron, who is unaffiliated with the case, said Polanski's attorneys might now agree to extradition believing the charges could be dropped.
Born to Polish-Jewish parents in 1933, Polanski's family were Holocaust victims, although he survived to become a brilliant filmmaker.
His first full-length feature, "Knife in the Water," won a number of awards, and his reputation grew with "Repulsion," his study of a woman terrified by sex who becomes a murderer.
Polanski scored a huge hit in the United States with 1968 horror thriller "Rosemary's Baby," and another with 1974's Chinatown," a stylish thriller starring Nicholson that was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
"Tess" (1979) also earned him an Oscar nomination, and Polanski finally won his only best director Oscar for 2002 film "The Pianist," the story of a Jewish-Polish musician who sees his world collapse with the outbreak of World War Two.
Polanski is married to French actress Emmanuelle Seigner with whom he has two children.
(Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Paris, Nicole Maestri in San Francisco and Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles; Writing by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Chris Wilson)
© Copyright 2009 Thomson Reuters. All Rights Reserved.
LA judge rejects Polanski bid to dismiss sex case
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge on Thursday formally rejected an attempt by fugitive film director Roman Polanski to have a 1978 sex case against him dismissed because of misconduct by prosecutors.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said he could not consider the case unless Polanski, who fled the United States for France after pleading guilty to rape, showed up in his court.
Lawyers for the Oscar-winning director made clear this week that Polanski would not return to the United States to contest his conviction in person because he would be immediately arrested. He cannot be extradited from France.
The lawyers have said they will appeal Espinoza's ruling on constitutional grounds, alleging that misconduct by the original prosecutors and the judge had deprived Polanski of his right to a fair hearing.
Polanski had sought to have his 1978 guilty plea to having sex with a 13-year-old girl thrown out on the grounds that the judge at the time was improperly coached by a prosecutor.
Espinoza said in February that there was "substantial misconduct" in the original case against Polanski and gave him until May 7 to turn up in his court to pursue the matter. Polanski did not appear.
The director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" fled to France in the 1970s because he was convinced the judge in the case intended to send him to prison despite a plea agreement with prosecutors.
He has never set foot on U.S. soil since, even when he was awarded a best director Oscar for the 2002 Holocaust movie "The Pianist."
The judge in the original case has since died but the allegations of misconduct were given a public airing a year ago in an independent documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."
The teenager in the case, now a mother of three living in Hawaii, has said she believes Polanski's long exile from Hollywood has been punishment enough.
Polanski was one of the most respected movie makers in Hollywood in the late 1960s and 70s and won sympathy when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in their Los Angeles home in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by David Storey)
© Copyright 2009 Thomson Reuters
Court rejects Polanski bid to disqualify L.A. judges
Originally published in The National Law Journal Legal Pad | LA, February 3, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An appeals court has rejected a bid by Roman Polanski's attorneys to disqualify all Los Angeles Superior Court judges from considering a request to dismiss a rape case against the fugitive film director.
A three-judge panel of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal on Monday also lifted a stay on all proceedings in the 31-year-old case, sending the case back to Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza. The court will schedule another hearing to decide whether Polanski has to be present for the court to hear his motion to dismiss a charge that he raped a 13-year-old girl.
Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said the court will set a hearing date on Tuesday.
Polanski's attorney, Chad Hummel, had argued that the entire Los Angeles Superior Court bench is biased against the director because a court spokesman commented to news media that Polanski was required to be present for his hearing. He said this showed that the court had prejudged the case.
A message left with Hummel on Monday night was not immediately returned.
Paris Still Home to Polanski
By Bruce Kirkland
Despite a flurry of new rumours, Roman Polanski says he has no plans to try to return to the United States, which he fled 22 years ago after being convicted of "unlawful sexual intercourse" with a 13-year-old girl he was photographing.
"I don't know if it's resignation or a lack of interest or a fear of the media circus that would happen," Polanski said in a telephone interview from Paris. The rumour mills are just speculation, he says. "Every now and again they propose the notion that I am doing something about it. Then there is a new round of articles about my possible return. There's nothing!"
Polanski left the U.S. in February, 1978, after serving 42 days in jail for psychiatric evaluation prior to final sentencing. He had plea-bargained and pleaded guilty to the least of six charges against him in the case. Reports that the judge was going to put him away for years inspired his flight. The girl is now a housewife in Hawaii and has never been identified.
Deal Will End Roman Holiday for Polanski
By Michelle Caruso in Los Angeles and Helen Kennedy in New York
Twenty years after he fled to Europe to escape punishment for raping a 13-year-old girl, fugitive director Roman Polanski will surrender in Los Angeles, sources confirmed yesterday.
Under a deal worked out in two secret meetings between the judge and Polanski's lawyer, the 63-year-old director won't serve any time in jail, sources said.
Samantha Geimer, who lives in Hawaii with her husband and three sons, went public in March to say she forgave Polanski for drugging her and raping her when she was a starstruck kid. She told London's Mail on Sunday that he should be pardoned. It was not immediately clear when Polanski, director of "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," and "Frantic" might return to Los Angeles.
Since he left Hollywood, his once-bright career has dimmed. He hasn't had a hit since 1979's "Tess," which was shot in France instead of England because he feared being extradited by the British.
The Polish director, whose mother died in a Nazi concentration camp, has had a life as violent as his movies. His 8-months pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson cult in 1969.
Polanski fled to Paris after being indicted in 1977 on six counts of drugging, raping and sodomizing Geimer, whom he lured to Jack Nicholson's empty house.
Polanski told the girl he wanted to photograph her for Vogue, but instead gave her Quaaludes and champagne and took her to bed. He maintained she was a Lolita who knew all about sex and drugs.
Facing up to 50 years in prison if convicted at trial, Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape. The other five counts were dismissed.
Polanski spent 90 days under psychiatric observation. But just before sentencing, facing a possible 50 years in jail, he jumped bail.
The original judge on the case, Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband, died several years ago and the case was reassigned to Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler.
In December, Polanski's lawyer, Douglas Dalton, 69, began meeting with Fidler and Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson.
But under the law, the judge has final say on penalties.
Polanski Can Fight Sex Case, State Court Says
Lawsuit: The Fugitive Director Can Be Defended Against a Civil Suit Filed by a Woman, Then 13, He Had Intercourse With in 1977
Originally published in the Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1990
A state appeals court says film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive since 1977 when he admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl, can be defended against a civil suit she has filed.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said Polanski did not forfeit the right to defend against civil claims through his attorney by his "reprehensible, irresponsible and unlawful absence."
A lawyer for the woman said the ruling, handed down Monday, would be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Polanski pleaded guilty in August, 1977, to one charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, in an incident at the home of actor Jack Nicholson. Polanski fled before being sentenced and now lives in Paris.
The civil suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in December, 1988, when the woman was 25, claims assault, battery, false imprisonment and seduction. The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, seeks damages for physical and emotional distress.
Polanski's lawyer filed papers denying the allegations. But Jane Doe's lawyers asked for a ruling declaring Polanski liable by default and barring his lawyer from taking part in the damage proceedings. They argued that a fugitive from justice should not be allowed to use the courts to defend himself.
Superior Court Judge George Dell denied a default and was upheld by the appeals court.
Justice Robert Devich, in the majority opinion, said a fugitive may be denied the right to pursue an appeal of a criminal conviction or to sue for damages. But since it was Jane Doe who took Polanski to court in the civil suit, he can defend himself through his lawyer, Devich said.
He also said Polanski's absence had suspended the normal legal deadline for the woman to file her civil suit, which otherwise might have been dismissed as being late.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Meredith Taylor, assigned to the court for the case, joined Devich's opinion. Justice Rueben A. Ortega dissented from the decision allowing Polanski to defend, saying a court "should not bow to the flagrant demands of a fugitive who refused to acknowledge its authority."
Judge Can't Wait for Polanski, Retires
Originally published in the Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1989
The Los Angeles judge who once vowed to remain on the bench until Roman Polanski returned for sentencing retired Friday, saying, "I can't wait that long," and turned in his gavel.
Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, the 83-year-old "judge of the stars" whose legal career spanned 60 years, presided over Elvis Presley's divorce, Marlon Brando's child custody battle, a paternity suit against Cary Grant and the "Billionaire Boys Club" murder trial of Joe Hunt. Rittenband, with his colorful vocabulary and outspoken style, said because of his age it was time to "let someone else do it."
He has fond memories of Elvis and Priscilla Presley who came to his court for a divorce in 1973.
"Elvis was a nice man," he said.
His memories of Polanski are not as fond, he said.
Rittenband issued an arrest warrant for Polanski in 1978 when the director fled to France rather than appear for sentencing after he had been convicted of having unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.
Originally published in The Washington Post, February 15, 1978
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The "in absentia" sentencing of Roman Polanski was postponed indefinitely yesterday when the film director's lawyer charged that the judge in the case was prejudiced and demanded that he be disqualified.
Polanski, 44, fled to Paris Feb. 2 rather than accept an indicated further prison term on his plea of guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse" with a 13-year-old girl.
A Roman in Paris
By Jura Koncius
Film director Roman Polanski arrived at his Paris apartment yesterday (after a stop in London) having fled the United States just hours before he was to have been sentenced in a California court for his admitted unlawful sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl last March.
Polanski, 44, a French citizen, was said by friends to be exhausted by the 42 days he spent undergoing psychiatric tests.
Polanski's probation report said he was profoundly affected by the brutal murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, in 1969. Court sources said the film director, imprisoned in Auschwitz by the Nazis during the World War II, was repelled by the thought of possibly serving more time behind bars.
The British Broadcasting Corp. quoted Polanski as saying by telephone, "I've been tortured by this for a year and that's enough."
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office announced yesterday it will seek to have Polanski extradited from France.
However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice in Paris reaffirmed that French citizens may not be extradited under any circumstances although, he added, French judicial authorities could decide to try the case in France.
A 90-Day Psychiatric Study for Roman Polanski
Originally published in The Washington Post, September 20, 1977
Movie director Roman Polanski, who had pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, yesterday was ordered imprisoned for a 90-day psychiatric study to help the judge decide his sentence.
Polanski had contracted to photograph the girl for a French fashion magazine. Prosecutors said he took her to the home of actor Jack Nicholson while Nicholson was away, fed her champagne and Quaaludes, then committed numerous sex acts with her.
The probation report indicated that she consented. The judge said it made no difference.
The technical effect of the judge's decision will be for Polanski to spend some time in prison without having the record of a prison sentence against him unless he is eventually placed behind bars under a formal sentence.
Among the problems Polanski faces is possible deportation. However, the law provides automatic deportation only for those convicted of crimes of moral turpitude who are sentenced to one year or more in prison.
Personalities Column, by Stephanie A. Lewis
Originally published in The Washington Post, August 10, 1977
Movie director Roman Polanski was ordered to undergo examination by two court-appointed psychiatrists in Los Angeles to determine if he should be institutionalized as a "mentally disordered sex offender" for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski, 43, pleaded guilty to one of six charges facing him, thereby avoiding a trial.
The movie director was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor at the request of the girl's mother, who wanted to protect her daughter from the publicity expected to accompany such a trial.
The prosecution agreed to dismiss five other charges, including two more serious counts—furnishing drugs to a minor and rape by use of drugs.
The results of the psychiatric examinations will help determined whether Polanski will be deported as an undesirable alien.
Polanski Indicted on Drug, Rape Charges
Originally published in The Washington Post, March 26, 1977
A grand jury has indicted Roman Polanski, director of "Rosemary's Baby" and other macabre movies, on six counts of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl at actor Jack Nicholson's home.
Conviction on the charges lodged Thursday could send Polanski to prison for up to 50 years. Polanski, 43, remained free on $2,000 bail and was given until Tuesday to surrender in Superior Court. Prosecutors said Polanski's attorney told them he would appear before then.
The grand jury indictment superseded charges brought March 11 when the director was arrested in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel where he was staying.
The grand jury charged Polanski with giving a drug to a minor, committing a lewd act upon a person less than 14, rape of a minor, rape by use of a drug, oral copulation and sodomy. All the charges are felonies.
Polanski Named in Rape Charge
Originally published in The Washington Post, March 13, 1977
LOS ANGELES, March 12, 1977 — Polish film director Roman Polanski, widower of murdered actress Sharon Tate, was free on bond today on charges of luring a 13-year-old girl to the home of Jack Nicholson under the pretext of photographing her, then drugging and raping her.
Polanski, 43, was arrested by police to Beverly Wilshire Hotel Friday night following the incident Thursday night at Nicholson's Bel Air home.
In addition to the rape charges, Polanski also was booked on suspicion of sodomy, child molestation and furnishing dangerous drugs to a minor. He was released on $2,500 bond pending his arraignment March 18.
Nicholson was reportedly out of town at the time. A spokesman for the district attorney's office told reporters that Polanski recently met the girl's mother and arranged for the girl to pose for some photographs for the French edition of Vogue magazine.
He said Polanski took some pictures at a first photographic session two weeks ago, and among these pictures was one of the girl nude from the waist up.
He said the mother became angry when she saw the picture and questioned her daughter when she returned home from the second photographic session Thursday night. Officers said the girl told her mother that Polanski had given her a tablet of the powerful tranquilizing drug Quaalude.
The director then raped the girl and forced her to commit various sex acts with him, police said.
Polanski made no public comment on his arrest. He surrendered peacefully when he was taken into custody at the hotel.
The following has been excerpted from "Roman Polanski Rape Victim Unveils Startling, Disturbing Photo for Book Cover,"
The pictures surfaced during Geimer's civil suit against Polanski, which she filed in 1988 and resulted in Polanski agreeing to pay her $500,000 plus interest (a sum Geimer struggled to collect).
As part of the civil suit, her attorney Lawrence Silver, who also contributes to the book, demanded Polanski turn over all the pictures he took. Even though the director turned over some photos (and all rights associated with them), Silver always believed others existed, and years later they were discovered.
"What happened was this," writes Silver in the book. "In executing the search warrant, the police didn't recognize the importance of a receipt/claim check from Sav-On Drugs' photograph department. Years later, I was told that Polanski gave his lawyer the receipt, and they secured the printed roll of film and negatives from the drug store. During the civil suit, his lawyer had to turn those photos over to me. These photographs, important both legally and historically, would likely have never been discovered if not for the civil suit."
The following has been excerpted from "Polanski's rape victim tells all in her new book,"
The director picked [the girl] up for the afternoon shoot, first stopping at Jacqueline Bisset's house, where remarkably the actress offered the 13-year-old a glass of wine. She refused.
At Jack Nicholson's home on Mulholland Drive, Polanski opened a bottle of champagne and told the teen to sip it as he shot photos. He then pressed her to gulp a third of a Quaalude. Next, he directed her into the Jacuzzi. With no bathing suit at hand, she jumped in in her panties.
He wanted them off. Then he got into the Jacuzzi, too.
"I'm fine with taking off my top, I'm fine that he doesn't care about anything I have to say. . . . I can even deal with spending all this time with him because everyone tells me he's a great artist. But. . . . this? No. He is a 43-year-old man with wet lips."
Cunnilingus (she will later refer to it as "cuddliness" before the grand jury) and anal penetration followed. When Polanski took her home, he showed her mother and her companion some of the photos. They became distraught when they saw the topless shots.
"Maybe, with the arrogance of someone who was lauded as a genius around the world, he just assumed that whatever he did was okay."
The Zero thanks Vince V., a third-year law student, for all his work researching and compiling
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