The new legal team for Roman Polanski, led by renowned attorney Alan Dershowitz, filed a motion in Los Angeles on December 15 requesting to represent the Oscar-winning director who fled the the U.S. before final sentencing on a statutory rape charge in 1978, opening what promises to be a broad legal and public-relations effort to lift the threat of extradition and jail time from the filmmaker, the New York Times said.
The team is making accusations of prosecutorial misconduct in its effort to end the case, which has kept the 81-year-old director out of the U.S. and many countries with U.S. extradition treaties for more than 30 years.
According to the Times, the filing charged prosecutors with providing false information to support a recent attempt to have Mr. Polanski extradited from Poland. It also demanded a hearing aimed at closing his case, based partly on fresh testimony that a Superior Court judge, in 2009, had unethically prejudged issues related to Mr. Polanski’s prosecution, and had a secret plan to jail him at least briefly, even while limiting his actual sentence to time served, the Times said.
In a statement, Mr. Dershowitz said he intended “to see that the integrity of the criminal justice system is preserved and to stop any further misstatements from our government to European nations” regarding the status of Mr. Polanski, who, he said, “has taken responsibility for his actions, served his sentence, and a remedy should now by fashioned by the court once and for all, ” the Times said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the motion revives a sensational case that began in 1977, when Polanski was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot. In a plea deal, the Polish-born director pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape, but he was never formally sentenced. He spent a month and a half in state prison for psychological testing, but the night before his sentencing he fled to Europe after learning from his attorney that the judge planned to give him additional time in prison, the Los Angeles Times said.
The case is back in the public eye after the director, a Holocaust survivor who was born in Poland, was at the opening of the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw in October. Polanski, who lives in France, was questioned by Polish authorities, but they declined to detain him despite a request from the U.S. to extradite him. That incident followed Polanski’s detention for more than nine months by Swiss authorities in 2010 after he attended the Zurich Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.