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Unsealed testimony alleges judge failed to keep promises in Roman Polanski sex case

A Los Angeles judge backed out on a promise he would not jail Roman Polanski for sexually abusing a teenager in 1977, a former prosecutor testified years ago, prompting the famous director to flee the United States decades ago.

Former Assistant District Attorney Roger Gunson’s previously sealed testimony revealed that in 2010 the judge failed to live up to his promise to release Polanski after the county’s parole and state prison officials ruled that he should not be incarcerated.

“The judge had promised him something on two occasions … something he didn’t keep,” Gunson said. “So it wasn’t surprising to me that when he was told he was going to be sent to state prison, he couldn’t or wouldn’t trust the judge.”

The transcript of Gunson’s testimony was ordered by a California appeals court on Wednesday after the Los Angeles Attorney’s Office dropped objections to her release.

Polanski’s attorney said his client was “thrilled” by the latest revelation as it supports Polanski’s claim that he did not get a fair deal when he fled conviction in 1978.

Attorney Harland Braun said Monday he is urging a prison sentence for Polanski, who was sentenced to house arrest in Switzerland in 1977 after a prison hearing and decades later.

“He’s waiting to see what happens next,” Braun said. “This is the first chance he really had in this case.”

Braun said Polanski, 88, should be sentenced without appearing in court, which prosecutors have denied in the past. Braun fears being taken into custody on his return as a fugitive.

Polanski was accused of giving a 13-year-old teenager champagne and part of a sedative before forcing her to have sex in March 1977. She testified before a grand jury that she did not fight him because she was afraid, but later called the police against her mother.

But the girl refused to testify in court, and Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor while prosecutors dropped the charges of rape, bestiality and drugs.

Former Assistant District Attorney Roger Gunson's previously sealed testimony revealed that in 2010 the judge failed to live up to his promise to release Polanski.
Former Assistant District Attorney Roger Gunson’s previously sealed testimony revealed that in 2010 the judge failed to live up to his promise to release Polanski.
AP

The Oscar winner was thrown out as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement, but has sidestepped legal troubles with France, Switzerland and Poland, which have all rejected extradition requests to the United States .

The case judge, Laurence Rittenband, who is dead, was influenced by the publicity surrounding the case and kept changing his mind about Polanski’s possible punishment, Braun said.

Rittenband said if Polanski received a positive report from the jail he was sent to for a 90-day inquest after parole officials said he should serve a jail sentence, he would not serve any more time, Gunson said.

But after prison officials recommended he remain on probation only, Rittenband believed reports from parole and prison officials were a “white wash,” Gunson said.

Rittenband said he would give him a longer sentence — Polanski could have faced 50 years, Gunson said — but would release him after 120 days. Gunson said he opposed the judge’s “sham trial,” even if he agreed to parole and prison officials downplayed the crimes.

“Roman says, ‘How can I trust the judge who lied twice?’ So he takes off for Europe,” said Braun.

Polanski’s attorneys heard Gunson’s testimony at the time, but were unable to use it in court because it was then sealed.

The victim, Samantha Geimer, has previously campaigned to have the case dropped or convict Polanski without appearing in court.

“I beseech you to take action to finally end this matter as an act of mercy to me and my family,” Geimer told a judge five years ago.

Polanski agreed to pay Geimer $600,000 to settle a lawsuit in 1993.

Prosecutors have regularly objected to the release of sealed testimonies, but reversed course earlier this week after Geimer had pushed for the transcript to be released.

“This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest-running sagas in the history of the California criminal justice system,'” Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “For years, this agency has fought against the release of information that the victim and the public have a right to know.”

With postal wires

https://nypost.com/2022/07/18/unsealed-testimony-claims-judge-reneged-on-promise-in-roman-polanski-sex-case/ Unsealed testimony alleges judge failed to keep promises in Roman Polanski sex case

JACLYN DIAZ

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