A new film documenting the infamous conviction of fugitive director Roman Polanski has prompted a request to reopen the case. The movie is entitled “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."
Polanski, director of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown,” brought 13-year-old Samantha Gailey to Jack Nicholson's mansion (while Nicholson was out of town) to conduct a photo shoot for a magazine. Polanski allegedly gave drugs and alcohol to the young girl prior to having sexual relations with her.
After being convicted of unlawful intercourse, Polanski fled the U.S. and for three decades has lived in Paris, France.
The new movie attempts to minimize his crime as well as demonize Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, who presided over the case, and has since passed away and is unable to answer charges put forth in the film.
Gailey, victim of the alleged circumstances whose name is now Samantha Geimer, appears in the movie saying that she harbors no anger toward Polanski.
Polanski, through his lawyer, has requested that the Los Angeles district attorney view the film.
Fugitives normally have no standing to appeal a case or move to reopen one, but because the movie features a former deputy district attorney who claims to have coached the judge in the case, it is remotely possible that a judge or the prosecutor could initiate a motion to dismiss the case based on judicial impropriety.
It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who would commit the alleged offenses and then jump bail. Any ordinary criminal defendant would have to answer for such actions. But ordinary criminal defendants don’t have the opportunity to jet over to France, avoid sentencing, and for decades following, live in luxury. And ordinary criminal defendants don’t have fawning filmmakers at the ready to create cinematic appeals for them.
A while back Hollywood saw fit to award Polanski an Oscar for “The Piano,” but the director was unable to accept the trophy because of his flight-from-the-country status.
James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor, and teacher of mass media and entertainment law at Biola University.
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