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Will Polanski's Sex Case Vanish?

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Dec 03, 2008 | 8:07am EST

Roman Polanski's achievements in filmmaking (The Pianist, Rosemary's Baby) will always be overshadowed by the fact that he's an accused sex offender -- now, he's ready to clear his name. 

The director, who, decades ago, had pled guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, has asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court to dismiss the charges. 

Polanski fled the U.S. before his sentencing in 1978. Since then, there have been several attempts to resolve the case. The victim, Samantha Geimer, has repeatedly requested that the charges be dropped. In the past, Polanski has been reluctant to revisit the case but now appears eager to clear his name, reports Variety.

Marina Zenovich’s recent documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, was cited by the filmmaker’s attorneys who said "extraordinary new evidence" had surfaced with the release of the film.

The complaint focuses on interviews in which then-deputy District Attorney David Wells admits discussing the case with Judge Lawrence Rittenband during legal proceedings and further charges the current District Attorney's Office with misconduct in statements made upon the documentary’s release last June.

The complaint charges that Polanski "was and continues to be the victim of repeated, unlawful and unethical misconduct on the part of the LA District Attorney's Office and LA Superior Court." 

New attorneys have taken up his case since Douglas Dalton, his longtime attorney, has retired. Chad Hummel of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and Bart Dalton (Douglas' son) of Cauley Bowman Carney & Williams filed the complaint on behalf of the director.

The attorneys issued a joint statement alluding to Zenovich’s film, but declined to comment further. "The release of the documentary film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired and its aftermath have revealed a pattern of misconduct and improper communications between the Superior Court and the District Attorney's Office, in violation of the rule of law and without the knowledge of the defendant or his counsel," they said. "This case serves as a classic example of how our justice system can be abused, and defendants' rights trampled, by an unholy alliance between courts and criminal prosecutors."

For its part, the court declined comment on the case itself, says The Hollywood Reporter, but said its position for several years has been "if Mr. Polanski wants to resolve this matter, he must appear in person. Should he do so, he would be taken to Dept. 100 for sentencing - which is where this all left off. At that point, his attorneys would be free to pursue whatever legal strategy they choose."

In general, fugitives do not have a right to demand such review, but judges have a wide berth when it comes to overturning convictions if they find that the court system has been abused. A hearing has been set for Jan. 21.

Read this story and more on Hollywood Wiretap

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