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US judge refuses to end Polanski sex case

August 19, 2017

A US judge has dismissed a plea by a woman raped as a teenager by director Roman Polanski to close the 40-year-old case. The 84-year-old filmmaker fled the US in 1978 to avoid a lengthy jail term.

Polanski at a press conference in Krakow
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Skarzynski

In a 10-page document issued on Friday, a Los Angeles judge ruled that the sexual abuse case against Polanski could not be dismissed simply "because it would be in the victim's best interest."

The LA Superior Court said the Oscar-winning film director must return to the US if he wants to resolve outstanding charges against him.

Historic charges

The case addresses the rape of Samantha Geimer, who was 13 years old at the time, in Los Angeles in 1977, charges to which Polanski has admitted were unlawful sex. Geimer has said he drugged, raped and sodomized her.

Poland: The Polanski controversy

The director spent 42 days in pretrial custody but then fled to France after being tipped off that a judge was likely to overrule a plea bargain agreed with prosecutors, which would have led to a hefty jail sentence.

Polanski has never returned to the United States despite extradition requests in France, Switzerland and Poland, where he has lived since. Several attempts to make a new deal to avoid jail time have failed.

Geimer, who has waived her right to anonymity, first appeared in court in June. She has argued that both the perpetrator and victim have received a "40-year sentence" and that she wanted an end to the case so she could get on with her life.

40-year case not resolved

Polanski's victim has said she has been more traumatized by the US legal system and the case dragging on than she had been by the director.

Although Geimer said she had forgiven Polanski years ago and called for "an act of mercy," the judge refused the request to close the case.

He ruled that Polanski is still a "fugitive" who "refuses to comply with court orders."

The judge also rejected a request by Polanski's attorney to unseal testimony about the 1977 plea bargain, in an attempt to rescind an international arrest warrant against the director.

The warrant prevented him from collecting his Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film "The Pianist." He was also nominated for 1974's "Chinatown" and 1979's "Tess."

mm/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)