Roman Polanski Loses Request to Release Prosecutor's Testimony in Sex Case
Roman Polanski lost a bid to release testimony by a former prosecutor that he claims shows the Los Angeles District Attorney is misleading the Swiss government about the sentence he faces for a 1977 sex crime.
California Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza, at a hearing yesterday in Los Angeles, denied the request by the film director who’s under house arrest at his ski chalet in Gstaad while waiting for the Swiss government to decide on the U.S. extradition request.
Polanski’s lawyers argued in court filings that Roger Gunson, the former lead prosecutor on the case, said during “conditional examination” in February and March that the judge in 1977 intended a 90-day diagnostic study in state prison to be Polanski’s entire sentence. Polanski was released after 42 days and fled the U.S. in 1978 when it appeared the judge would send him back to prison.
“The information provided to the Swiss by our D.A. is at best incomplete,” Chad Hummel, a lawyer for Polanski, said at yesterday’s hearing.
Los Angeles prosecutors said in a filing with Swiss authorities that since-deceased Judge Laurence Rittenband ordered the diagnostic study so he “would be in a better position to reach a fair and just decision as to the sentence” and that Polanski, 76, faces as long as two years in prison.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said at the hearing that the information provided to the Swiss was entirely truthful and accurate. The Swiss government hasn’t asked for additional information, and Polanski’s request to unseal the transcripts of Gunson testimony was “frivolous,” the prosecutor said.
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to having sex with a 13- year-old girl. His lawyers have said that under the U.S. extradition treaty with Switzerland, a convict can only be extradited if he faces at least six months in prison.
Espinoza said he ordered the examination of Gunson, who’s in poor health, to preserve the former prosecutor’s testimony only if Polanski comes to Los Angeles for a hearing and Gunson isn’t available. It hadn’t been his intention that the sealed transcripts would be used for any other purpose, the judge said.
Hummel declined to comment after yesterday’s hearing.
The case is People of the State of California v. Roman Polanski, A334139, California Superior Court (Los Angeles).
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