Polanski seeks dismissal of decades-old sex charge

Tue Dec 2, 2008 8:57pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar-winning film director and fugitive Roman Polanski asked a Los Angeles court on Tuesday to dismiss a 30-year-old charge of unlawful sex with a minor, his lawyers said.

Polanski, 75, fled the United States in 1978 to avoid serving a prison sentence after entering a guilty plea on charges of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The film director's lawyers said they had new evidence, sparked by a documentary film earlier this year, that revealed "judicial and prosecutorial misconduct ... so distorted the legal process that the interests of justice can only be served with complete dismissal of the case."

Polanski, who directed movie classics such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown," has French citizenship and cannot be extradited to the United States.

Vilified by the U.S. media at the time, the French-Polish filmmaker has never returned to the United States despite winning a best director Oscar in 2003 for the World War Two movie "The Pianist."

A new team of lawyers representing Polanski filed a formal request on Tuesday for dismissal of the criminal case with Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Polanski was originally charged with several counts, including rape by use of drugs. But in a plea deal, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

He had already spent 42 days in a California prison for a psychiatric evaluation but then fled the United States before being sentenced.   Continued...

<p>Director Roman Polanski reacts during a news conference in Oberhausen, Germany, September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>