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Polanski asks to be sentenced in absentia in 1970s sex case

January 6, 2010 |  3:59 pm

Roman Polanski has asked a Los Angeles judge to sentence him in absentia for having sex with a 13-year-old in 1977.

In a notarized letter submitted to a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge at a hearing Wednesday afternoon, the filmmaker wrote, "I request the judgment be pronounced against me in my absence."

The letter was dated Dec. 29 and signed in Gstaad, the Swiss resort town where the director is under house arrest pending a decision by a Swiss judge on whether to extradite him to the United States. Judge Peter Espinoza accepted the letter but said he would not decide whether such a proceeding was appropriate until a Jan 22 hearing.

An appellate court proposed sentencing in absentia as a way to resolve the three-decade-old case in a decision last month in which the justices denied Polanski's request for a complete dismissal of charges.

Espinoza, the presiding judge of the Superior Court's criminal division, told defense lawyers that the justices' proposal was "a suggestion" and "certainly wasn't a directive."

-- Harriet Ryan