Prosecutor balks at sentencing absent Roman Polanski
AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A prosecutor filed legal briefs Friday strongly reiterating his opposition to sentencing movie director Roman Polanski in absentia in a 32-year-old sex case.
Insisting Polanski must appear in person in a Los Angeles courtroom, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren characterized the director as “a fugitive and convicted child rapist (who) must not be permitted to instruct this court how to proceed.”
“The operation of a fair and equitable judicial system mandates that criminals, even those with celebrity status and wealthy means abide by lawful court orders,” Walgren wrote.
Polanski, 76, is under house arrest in Gstaad, Switzerland and fighting extradition.
He pleaded guilty to having unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl and fled in 1978 when the now deceased judge indicated he was about to issue a harsher sentence than contained in a plea bargain.
Polanski recently sent a letter asking a Los Angeles judge to sentence him without making him return to the U.S.
Walgren objected to Polanski’s request during a hearing earlier this month. Another hearing is set for Jan. 22.
In his 11-page court filing, Walgren said the “unique high-publicity nature of the case would provide the greatest deterrent effort for others considering fleeing the court’s jurisdiction.”
The document also quoted from an appellate court decision that noted sentencing in absentia might be a win-win for Polanski.
If sentenced to no further time behind bars, Polanski could freely return to the United States without consequence, the prosecutor said. And if sentenced to state prison, he could remain a fugitive.
“The appellate court accurately characterized this as the ‘heads I win, tails you’ll never find me’ dynamic,” Walgren said.
He also said that Polanski’s voluntary surrender in person would “maintain the dignity of the court” and prevent him from “flouting the processes of the court.” In the sensational 1977 case, the director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby” was accused of plying the teen with champagne and part of a Quaalude pill then raping her during a modeling shoot at Jack Nicholson’s house in 1977.
Polanski was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy. He later pleaded guilty to the one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.
His victim has said she wants the case dismissed and feels she is being victimized again by all the publicity.