Judge says Polanski must return to U.S. for sentencing

Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:57pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge on Friday said fugitive film director Roman Polanski must return to the United States to be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Judge Peter Espinoza rejected a request by Polanski to be sentenced in his absence, and instead said the Oscar-winning director must return to California.

"I choose to insist that he appear," Espinoza said.

Polanski, 76, fled California in 1978 and was arrested in September in Switzerland. He is currently under house arrest in Gstaad fighting extradition to the United States.

Attorneys for Polanski said they plan to appeal the judge's decision, likely prolonging the decades-long battle now playing out in both Switzerland and Los Angeles to bring him to justice.

Polanski, whose movies included "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," formally asked to be sentenced in his absence earlier this month, after a California appeals court suggested that might be one way of resolving the case.

The victim in the case supported his request, but Los Angeles prosecutors opposed the move.

They argued that Polanski should not be allowed to "dictate" his case from afar and should not be treated differently because he is a celebrity.   Continued...

<p>Director Roman Polanski reacts during a news conference to present his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Oberhausen September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>