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Polanski seeks to have child molestation charges dropped

December 2, 2008 |  3:48 pm


Thirty years after he fled the U.S. to avoid sentencing on child molestation charges, Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski has filed a formal request to have the case dismissed.

Lawyers for Polanski, a French citizen, cited misconduct by prosecutors and a judge in papers filed in L.A. County Superior Court today. The attorneys said that a recent HBO documentary about the case, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” “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 director and his defense.

In 1977, Polanski, was charged with several sex crimes involving a 13-year-old girl. He was convicted on charges of unlawful intercourse with a minor but left the United States before sentencing.

The district attorney’s office has not been served with the motion yet, a spokeswoman said.

Polanski, whose directing credits include “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” continued to work in Europe after he fled the United States, winning a best director Oscar for "The Pianist."

There had been much debate in Hollywood and beyond about whether Polanski should be permitted to return to the U.S.

Back then, the director met an actress living in Woodland Hills who allowed him to take photos of her 13-year-old daughter -- ostensibly for a layout Polanski was shooting for French Vogue. After a tryout session, Polanski drove the girl to Jack Nicholson's home. According to the girl, Polanski gave her champagne and a Quaalude and later had sex with her. Her mother went to the police, who arrested Polanski. Nicholson was not at the home at the time of the incident.

Polanski did not deny having sex with the girl but said it was consensual. Two weeks after Polanski was arrested, he was indicted by a grand jury on six counts, including rape, but reached a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to a lone count of having sex with a minor, punishable by six months to 50 years in prison. Fearing deportation or prison, Polanski fled to France, which does not extradite its citizens under any circumstances.

--Harriet Ryan

Photo: Los Angeles Times