Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Judge rejects Roman Polanski's request to dismiss sex charges

May 7, 2009 |  3:09 pm

Polanski A judge officially rejected Roman Polanski’s request for a dismissal of 32-year-old child sex charges today after the filmmaker missed a deadline to surrender to U.S. authorities.

His attorneys had informed Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza in advance that the director would not return to Los Angeles to meet a deadline set by the court in February, but the judge nevertheless took the bench at the time of his scheduled appearance.

“Court calls for the record the matter of Roman Raymond Polanski,” Espinoza said to the vacant well of the courtroom. Answered only by stares from half a dozen reporters – neither prosecutors nor Polanski’s attorneys attended – Espinoza continued, saying that “by their absence” defense lawyers indicated “that Mr. Polanski doesn’t intend to submit himself to the authority of the court.”

"Motion is denied,” he said and left the bench. The 30-second proceeding capped Polanski’s most recent effort to resolve the 1977 case in which he was accused of raping and drugging a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson’s house. He pleaded guilty to a statutory rape charge, but fled to France, where he now lives, after learning that the trial judge planned to sentence him to prison.

Polanski, now 75 and a married father of two, asked the court to throw out the entire case in December based on new allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct detailed in an HBO documentary last year. The L.A. district attorney’s office argued that he could not make such a request while a fugitive and Espinoza agreed. A 1997 attempt at settling the case also failed. Polanski's lawyers have vowed to appeal Espinoza’s decision.

-- Harriet Ryan