Polanski’s Last-Ditch Effort to Come Home

Roman Polanski fled American justice after raping a teenager 30 years ago. Now the director is making a fresh effort to get home. But chances are, he’ll die in Europe.

One of America’s most controversial fugitives from justice, the convicted child rapist and film director Roman Polanski, 83, is reportedly making a last-ditch effort to return to the U.S. without serving extra jail time.

TMZ reports that Polanski’s legal team has asked an L.A. County Superior Court judge to unseal a long-secret transcript of the testimony of the prosecutor in the Polanski case, which they believe supports the claim that a deal was cut with authorities for the crime of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Polanski, 83, has acknowledged giving a Quaalude and Champagne to the girl he then sodomized.

The director spent just 48 days behind bars for rape before being released.

Polanski’s team has always argued that the presiding judge subsequently reneged on an agreed-upon deal and told prosecutors Polanski should spend as much as 50 years in prison, and that’s when Polanski fled the U.S. for Europe, where he has lived for the past 30 years.

However Polanski’s critics argue that the judge never made any such promises, and in a piece for The Daily Beast reviewing contemporary courtroom documents, Marcia Clark wrote that the courtroom exchanges prove “unequivocally that no sentencing promises had been made and that the judge would decide what Polanski would get.”

Other than a year under house arrest at a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, while U.S. authorities sought his extradition, Polanski has lived as a free man and enjoyed a stellar career, working with everyone from Ewan McGregor (The Ghostwriter) to Sigourney Weaver (Death and the Maiden). He won a Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2002. Unable to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles himself, Polanski’s award was collected on his behalf by his friend Harrison Ford.

Polanski has long campaigned to be allowed back into America without facing extra time in jail, and his powerful friends among the Hollywood and European elite have also made the case for him.

Extraordinarily, a plea for clemency was made to President Obama from then-President Sarkozy of France in 2010.

In her memoir, The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski, Samantha Geimer, the now-53-year-old woman whom Polanski attacked, told how she wrote in her diary at the time: “I got my pics taken by Roman Polanski and he raped me, fuck.”

Polanski drove Geimer home after her ordeal, and ordered her, “Don’t tell your mother. This will be our little secret.”

He showed her family a slideshow of the photos he had taken of her, which included several shots of her in the nude.

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The ensuing trial and media circus were for Geimer as traumatic as the night itself. “If I had to choose between reliving the rape or the grand jury testimony, I would choose the rape,” she wrote.

Geimer’s family and legal team brokered a plea deal in order to spare her from having to testify.

Geimer is an unlikely ally in Polanski’s case—she has said that Polanski should have received probation and nothing more.

TMZ reports that Polanski particularly wants to be able to travel to the U.S. to visit the grave of his former wife, Manson Gang murder victim Sharon Tate.

However, Polanski may also be motivated by the fact that he has faced issues traveling in Europe in recent years and is not able to visit his daughter in London, where officials have made it clear they would hand him over to the U.K. authorities.

Polanski must know the chances of success are slim. It’s hard to see America rolling over on this issue now.

Polanski is revered in his adopted hometown of Paris for his artistic skills, and the shocking events of 1977 are largely ignored.

He has made his life there. Perhaps, he would be wise to reconcile himself to dying there as well.