Prosecutors fight Polanski over rape charge
Exiled director wants three-decade-old conviction dismissedFugitive director Roman Polanski received a message from prosecutors in a sexually explicit court motion Tuesday that all is not forgiven and they will fight dismissal of a three-decade-old conviction for raping a 13-year-old.
The documents filed by the district attorney's office would be rated "X" in movie terminology and contained a reminder that the rape occurred at the home of Oscar winner Jack Nicholson.
In a footnote, the document said: "Jack Nicholson was not home at the time of the events and had no knowledge of the activities of Roman Polanski."
The motion, drawing on descriptions contained in transcripts of grand jury hearings in 1977, provided details of a photo shoot in which the young girl was given champagne and part of a Quaalude pill, was told to disrobe and was subjected to oral copulation, forced intercourse and sodomy by Polanski.
It said the victim asked him to stop several times and that she was in tears when Polanski drove her home.
"At some point, the defendant warned the victim not to tell her mother about what had happened, adding that 'This is our secret,' " the motion said.
The girl, now a 44-year-old woman, has said she never wanted Polanski to go to prison and feels the case should be dismissed. The 75-year-old Polanski, living in exile in France, wants to return to the U.S.
His lawyers, prompted by a recent documentary alleging judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, filed a motion in December to dismiss the case.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren argued in Tuesday's motion that Polanski's request can't be heard in court without his presence. If he returned, Polanski could be arrested. His lawyers have said the matter can be heard in his absence.
Walgren said he was not admitting judicial or prosecutorial error, but "the alleged misconduct occurred after the defendant pleaded freely and voluntarily to a felony, with the understanding that the judge would determine the appropriate sentence."
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Walgren said the hearing should be canceled if Polanski doesn't plan to attend.
In a motion filed Monday, Polanski's lawyer asked to disqualify the entire staff of the Los Angeles County Superior Court from the case for bias against Polanski and said the California Judicial Council should appoint a neutral judge from another county to preside over the hearing. The prosecution's filing on Tuesday did not address that issue.
In a statement after the prosecution papers were filed, Polanski attorney Chad Hummel accused the district attorney's office of evading questions of judicial misconduct by focusing on the single issue of whether Polanski needs to be present for the hearing. He said the case should be moved out of Los Angeles County for review by an impartial judge.
The details of Polanski's sexual activity with the girl had never been described in legal documents because he was permitted to plead guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse with a minor and other charges were dismissed.
That decision was explained in Tuesday's motion, which said it was based on the teenager's concerns. The document said the victim "expressed in no uncertain terms that she wished to maintain her anonymity and avoid the further trauma that would accompany a full-blown jury trial. Based on these expressed concerns, on Aug. 8, 1977, the defendant was permitted to plead guilty to one felony count ... for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. ... This was an open plea to the court, meaning that at the time of the plea, there did not exist any agreement as to what sentence may or may not be imposed."
Polanski was sent to prison for a diagnostic study, released after 42 days and scheduled to appear before the judge for sentencing on the day that he fled to France.
Polanski's life, which has been documented in books and film, has been a study in triumphs and tragedies. His mother perished in a Nazi prison camp in Poland and his first wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson family in 1969 while pregnant with their child. As a movie director, he was lauded from the start of his career. He was nominated for an Oscar for directing "Tess" and "Chinatown," and also for writing the adapted screenplay for "Rosemary's Baby."
While in exile, he won the 2002 Oscar for directing "The Pianist," a holocaust drama.
The issue of his rape case drew renewed interest in 2008 with the broadcast of an HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" which suggested a pattern of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of his case.