Polanski sex case may be dropped

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THE WOMAN who was sexually assaulted as a child by Roman Polanski, in one of Hollywood's biggest modern-day scandals, wants the criminal case against him to be dropped, allowing him to return to the United States without going to prison.

The director - whose work includes such classics as Chinatown - fled the US 16 years ago, just before he was about to be sentenced for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

But the woman, now 30 and living in Hawaii - who has been known throughout the case as 'Jane Doe' - wants to put the incident behind her after reaching an out-of-court settlement in a civil case against him filed several years ago. She was 13 at the time of the incident.

'It is in everyone's best interest that this sorry event, which occurred now 17 years ago, be put to rest and allow the parties to live their lives as normally as possible,' her lawyer, Lawrence Silver, told the Los Angeles Times. 'One way to get it past her is to have all the legal entanglements resolved, including Mr Polanski's return to the United States, so that she doesn't have to read about it any more in the morning paper or hear about it on the national news.'

During his exile from Hollywood Polanski, who continues making films in Europe, has made several attempts to strike a deal through third parties that would allow him to return to the US without going to prison.

In his autobiography he maintained that the reason he fled was because the judge in his case reneged on an agreement that he sould serve no more than 90 days behind bars.

Whether a settlement would be welcomed by prosecutors is a different matter. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office still maintains that it would be up to a judge to determine Polanski's fate, were he to surrender himself to US authorities.