U.S. Judge Rejects Bid to Close Polanski Child Sex Case

The famous director was charged in 1977 with raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles after plying her with champagne and drugs.

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Roman Polanski poses with his Best Director award for 'La Venus A La Fourrure' (Venus in Fur) during a photocall at the 39th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris, February 28, 2014.Credit: Reuters

REUTERS - A Los Angeles judge has declined a bid from attorneys for Roman Polanski to close the 1977 child sex case against the Oscar-winning director, a court spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin on Tuesday is the latest defeat for the filmmaker in having the case dismissed without returning to the United States.

Polanski's attorneys had filed court papers last week seeking an evidentiary hearing on what they called prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the case in a bid to have it dismissed, at least in part to allow Academy Award-winning director of "The Pianist" to travel freely without the threat of extradition.

"While this court is empowered to order an evidentiary hearing, it may also exercise its discretion by declining to do so," Brandlin wrote in a nine-page ruling.

The judge added that Polanski "forfeited his right to avail himself of the authority of this court under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine" but could return to California to obtain an evidentiary hearing.

The director's lawyers have fought for years to have the case thrown out on claims that Polanski was a victim of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. Courts have ruled they cannot address the issues unless he returns to California.

Polanski, 81, was charged in 1977 with raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles after plying her with champagne and drugs. He pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor.

But the director of such films as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" fled to France before sentencing, fearing the judge would impose more prison time than the 42 days he had spent behind bars for a psychiatric evaluation.

Lawyers for the French-born director argued that he has served his sentence and that he need not be present in court for the case to close officially. There is a warrant for Polanski's arrest in the United States.

A representative for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office declined to comment, as did Polanski's agent, and the filmmaker's attorney did not return a call or email.

Polanski was questioned by Polish prosecutors in October after U.S. authorities requested his extradition.

The director, who spent much of his young life in Poland, has said he plans to shoot a film in Poland about Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French military officer falsely convicted of treason.