Director seeks to drop molestation charges
Roman Polanski has launched a new initiative to get back into Hollywood.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the director filed a complaint with the Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to have 31-year-old sexual misconduct charges dismissed. Fittingly enough, a docu about the filmmaker’s travails paved the way for latest attempt to clear Polanski’s name.
Polanski’s attorneys cite “extraordinary new evidence” that has surfaced with the release of Marina Zenovich’s “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” as reason to reopen the case. The complaint zeroes in on interviews in which then-deputy district attorney David Wells admits discussing the case with Judge Lawrence Rittenband during legal proceedings from the 1970s and further charges the current District Attorney’s Office with misconduct in statements made upon the docu’s June release.
Polanski, the complaint charges, “was and continues to be the victim of repeated, unlawful and unethical misconduct on the part of the L.A. District Attorney’s Office and L.A. Superior Court.”
A hearing has been set for Jan. 21.
Although Polanski has long expressed reluctance to revisit the case, he apparently is eager to clear his name and put the issue to rest. The director, a French citizen, has had his share of heartache and success in Hollywood, where his wife Sharon Tate was murdered. The sexual misconduct charges stem from a 1977 encounter with a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson’s house when the actor was not home.
He fled before sentencing, and since then there have been several attempts to resolve the case. His victim, Samantha Geimer, has repeatedly requested that the charges be dropped. He has continued to work in France, winning an Oscar for 2002’s “The Pianist.” His next project, “The Ghost,” is skedded to begin lensing in Europe in February.
New attorneys have taken up the charge for Polanski, 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 Polanski camp approached Hummel, who recently defended an LAPD officer embroiled in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping trial, to investigate whether they had grounds to reopen the case. The attorneys issued a joint statement alluding to the docu, 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.”
Polanski’s camp last tried to resolve the case in 1997, but those negotiations fell apart over a judge’s supposed stipulation that the hearing be televised. Zenovich revised the end card of “Wanted and Desired” at the last minute due to conflicting statements about negotiations in 1997 to resolve the case, prompting Douglas Dalton and original prosecutor Roger Gunson to accuse the District Attorney’s Office of misspeaking. The complaint accuses deputy D.A. Richard Doyle of prosecutorial misconduct due to his recent statements.