Roman Polanski case: court rejects director's attempt to dismiss sex assault charges

Legal expert says the case against the director is not likely to 'go away'

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The Independent US

The director Roman Polanski has failed in his latest effort to have the three decades-old sexual assault charges against him dismissed.

It means the 81-year-old director still cannot return to the US and has to keep away from countries that have extradition treaties with Washington if he wants to be certain of avoiding jail.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court announced that it was declining an attempt by Polanski’s legal team to dismiss the allegations on the grounds that the courts had not treated him correctly.

Last week, Polanski’s legal team, among them the celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, made allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. They claimed that a member of the judiciary who handled the matter in 2008 and 2009 had committed misconduct by failing to properly consider a dismissal motion due to pressure from a presiding judge.

But the Associated Press said that in a nine-page order, Superior Court Judge James Brandlin said Polanski’s claim could not be considered because he remained a fugitive outside of the country. Polanski fled after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.

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 a state prison where he served 42 days.

The prosecutor and Polanski’s lawyer 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, the Associated Press said.

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.

There was no immediate comment on the latest announcement from Polanski. One of his lawyers, Bart Dalton, said he had not yet seen the order and could not comment.

Jusge Brandlin’s order stated that Polanski had other options in his latest push to dismiss the case, including returning to California to address his claims.

Several efforts to extradite Polanski to California have failed.

In 2009, the director of films such as Chinatown and Tess, was accepting an award in Switzerland, where he has a home, when he was arrested and served 290 days. The Swiss authorities then rejected a US request to extradite him and declared he could travel to Switzerland whenever he wished.

In October of this year, Polanski 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 US request but they refused to arrest him.

Former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson, now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said she did not think the case against Polanski, who won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film The Pianist, was going to be dismissed.

“This case is never going away,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s no reason for him not to keep trying, as long as he doesn’t have to come back. And if he doesn’t come back, I don’t think the court will resolve his issues. It will be a stalemate, and it’s likely to be a stalemate for all time.”