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Judge: Polanski must come to L.A. to be sentenced in child-sex case

January 22, 2010 |  2:55 pm

A judge has rejected director Roman Polanski's bid to be sentenced in absentia in a three-decade-old child-sex case.

Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that Polanski, 76, will have to come back Los Angeles to be sentenced.

"I have made it clear he needs to surrender," the judge said.

Polanski's attorneys said they would appeal.

The famed film director is under house arrest in Switzerland, where he is waiting to learn whether the Swiss government will extradite him to the U.S. to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski received some support this week from his victim.

In papers filed in Superior Court on Thursday, Samantha Geimer's lawyer accused the Los Angeles County district attorney's office of violating state victims' rights statutes by not consulting Geimer before seeking extradition.

In the filing, attorney Lawrence Silver wrote that Marsy's Law -- a 2008 statute passed by ballot initiative -- gives crime victims the right "to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding ... the determination whether to extradite the defendant."

The attorney said he wrote to prosecutors in July and made clear that Geimer wanted to meet with them and that she planned to "exercise every right that she may have under the Victims' Bill of Rights." Two months later, Polanski was arrested in Zurich on a three-decade-old arrest warrant, and prosecutors subsequently submitted a formal extradition request. A Swiss court has yet to decide the matter.

Hours after the documents were filed, the district attorney's office fired back with its own filing.

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren wrote that over the last year, Geimer and her attorney ignored repeated offers to discuss the case. The filing included copies of 11 e-mails that Walgren sent to Silver -- five of which contained offers to talk about the case.

"Despite multiple invitations to meet and confer, Mr. Silver has never once responded to these entreaties," Walgren wrote. He suggested the victims' rights statute was being twisted to benefit Polanski.

Marsy's Law "was intended to protect the rights of victims. It was not intended to be vicariously used by a defendant to avoid prosecution," Walgren wrote.

Geimer was 13 at the time of the crime and is now a wife and mother living in Hawaii. She has never changed her account of being raped and sodomized by Polanski during a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson's house in 1977, but her stance toward Polanski changed in the years after she and the director settled a civil suit brought against him for sexual assault and other claims.

Under the terms of the 1993 confidential agreement, he agreed to pay her at least $500,000.

-- Harriet Ryan