Polanski’s 45-year-old sex abuse case
July 19, 2022 - The Associated Press reports that a U.S. judge privately told lawyers he would renege on a plea deal and imprison film director Roman Polanski after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.
A newly unsealed court transcript appears to support claims that Judge Laurence Rittenband, who oversaw Roman Polanski’s case, broke promises related to the film director’s sentencing. Polanski admitted having sex with a 13-year-old in 1977 in a plea bargain.
The transcript comes from closed-door testimony given by former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson in 2010 about the conduct of the now-deceased Judge Rittenband.
According to Gunson, Rittenband told him and Polanski’s lawyer that the filmmaker would get a longer sentence than promised. Polanski fled the U.S. to Europe, making him a fugitive from justice for the past 44 years.
“The judge had promised him on two occasions… something that he reneged on,” Gunson said, referring to a promise to limit Polanski’s sentence to a brief stay in prison for a psychiatric examination. “So it wasn’t surprising to me that, when he was told he was going to be sent off to state prison… that he could not or would not trust the judge,” said Gunson.
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to a count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. Rittenband ordered him to Chino State Prison for a psychiatric examination before sentencing him. The review recommended probation.
The office of the Los Angeles County district attorney has said it will reexamine the case with “fresh eyes” now that the Gunson transcript has been released and has also mentioned obtaining “closure” for Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, who has called it a “40-year-sentence” imposed on both her and Polanski.
- Timeline of Roman Polanski’s 45-year-old teen sex abuse case (The Associated Press)
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- Judge in Roman Polanski’s Child Sex Case Broke Sentencing Promise, Unsealed Docs Reveal (Rolling Stone)
- Roman Polanski Transcript Shows D.A.’s Concerns About Judge’s 1977 Conduct (Variety)