Court offers Polanski an exit strategy

Judges deny the director's latest request to have his 1977 case dismissed, but tell him how he can get rid of it

By Kate Harding
December 22, 2009 8:23PM (UTC)
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The good news: California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Roman Polanski's most recent request for dismissal of all that unpleasant business about his raping a kid and fleeing sentencing. The bad news: The court also spelled out just what Polanski needs to do to really make this all go away. If his team of lawyers would just quit pushing for dismissal and ask instead that the 76-year-old director be sentenced in absentia, the justices "are confident that the trial court could fashion a legal sentence that results in no further incarceration for Polanski." (Polanski, you'll recall, is currently confined to his three-story chalet in Gstaad, which sits on a 19,000 square foot property "nestled along a private road with a view of the surrounding countryside and snow-capped mountains," according to ABC News. He's spending this dark time hanging out with his family, entertaining guests and editing his latest movie, poor thing.)

The justices seem particularly concerned, says Harriet Ryan in the L.A. Times, with sorting out "Polanski's allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the original handling of the case" -- memorably conveyed to the public in the 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" -- "enough so that they took the unusual step of injecting themselves into the details of a specific case." They wrote: "We exhort all participants in this extended drama to place the integrity of the criminal justice system above the desire to punish any one individual, whether for his offense or for his flight." I guess a justice system that punishes both crooked judges and fugitive child rapists is too much to hope for?


Polanski's lawyers haven't said whether they'll be taking the judges' advice, but Loyola Law professor Laurie Levenson told Ryan, "It's a pretty darn good solution for Polanski. This could all go away and we would all kinda scratch our heads and wonder what has taken 30 years."


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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