Roman Polanski Seeks Return to US Without Additional Jail Time for Rape Conviction

Filmmaker’s lawyer petitioning courts to unseal documents proving he had plea deal with judge in 1977

Roman Polanski
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Roman Polanski has sent a request to a judge to allow the filmmaker to return to the United States without serving any additional jail time.

The Best Director Oscar-winner (“The Pianist”) was indicted in 1977 on five charges, including “rape by use of drugs” and “furnishing a controlled substance to a minor,” after having sex with 13-year-old girl who had been brought over to his house for a photo shoot.

Polanski later reached a deal, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.” As a condition of the deal, he was required to serve 90 days in state prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation. He was released after only 42 days, but soon after fled the United States when it emerged that the presiding judge was considering a stiffer penalty.

Polanski says the judge, Judge Laurence Rittenband, reneged on the plea deal and insisted he serve up to 50 years in jail after the agreement was signed. Rittenband, who died in 1993, consistently denied these accusations, though he did state that he felt Polanski’s sentence was too light.

Polanski’s lawyer Harland Braun sent a letter to Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking to unseal documents from 1977 detailing the agreement, which would prove Polanski has already served his sentence.

“First we have to unseal the secret transcript,” Braun told TheWrap. “After we confirm the contents, we will urge the court to recognize the Polish decision resulting from a litigation initiated by the DA and in which the DA participated. If the Court accepts the principle of comity, Roman can come to Los Angeles and to court without fear of custody.”

In December, Poland’s supreme court denied the United States’ request to extradite Polanski, upholding a lower court’s decision.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.