LOS ANGELES — A judge Aug. 18 rejected a request to dismiss Roman Polanski’s 1977 unlawful sexual intercourse case involving a 13-year-old girl, finding the famed film director “stands as a fugitive” after fleeing from the United States in the late 1970s before his sentencing.
In a 10-page ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon noted that testimony from the victim, Samantha Geimer, at a June 9 hearing “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.” But he cited a 1976 California appellate court panel’s ruling in noting that “a court may not dismiss a case merely because it would be in the victim’s best interest.”
“The defendant in this matter stands as a fugitive and refuses to comply with court orders. As eloquently described by Ms. Geimer, his conduct continues to harm her and compounds the trauma of the sexual assault committed against her that gave rise to this case.”
The ruling came on Polanski’s 84th birthday.
“I don’t get it,” Polanski’s latest attorney, Harland Braun, said shortly after the judge’s ruling was released. “Why can’t the system come to grips with a very simple situation? … There’s an insanity in this case beyond belief.”
The defense attorney said the ruling was issued on the same day he planned to file a document suggesting how the case could be resolved by recalling an arrest warrant for Polanski and allowing him to come to Los Angeles to be sentenced to 334 days that Braun said Polanski has already served.
Geimer — a grandmother now in her 50s — told the judge at the hearing in June that she has “endured the pendency of this case for over 40 years” and said dismissal of the matter would be a “way to expedite conclusion” to the case.
“I would implore you to consider taking action which can finally bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy to myself and my family,” she told Gordon, suggesting that Polanski could be sentenced without having to return to court.
The judge had already denied the defense’s request to sentence Polanski in absentia earlier this year.
Polanski’s attorney also asked for the case to be dismissed in the interests of justice. Braun said his client had accepted responsibility for his actions.
The defense lawyer has maintained that Polanski has already served more than enough time, including time he spent at a state prison in Chino in the late 1970s for a pre-sentencing diagnostic examination and also in jail and under house arrest in Switzerland in 2009 as Swiss authorities considered an extradition request.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee objected to the defense’s request to dismiss the case.
The prosecutor acknowledged that crime victims have a broad set of rights, but she said it does not include the right to dictate the outcome of a criminal case.
Polanski — a director, writer and producer who won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Pianist” — fled to his native France in 1978 before his sentencing and still lives in Europe. Southern California authorities have tried for years to bring him back to America.