June 9, 2017 / 12:30 AM / 6 months ago

Polanski's 1977 rape victim to attend LA court in bid to end case

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The woman whom fugitive movie director Roman Polanski admitted he raped 40 years ago will attend a court hearing in Los Angeles on Friday where she hopes to plead for an end to the case, Polanski’s attorney said.

70th Cannes Film Festival - Photocall for the film "Based on a True Story" (D'apres une histoire vraie) out of competition - Cannes, France. 27/05/2017. Director Roman Polanski poses. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Samantha Geimer was 13 years old when Polanski assaulted her in Los Angeles in 1977. In recent years, she has said repeatedly that she has forgiven Polanski, now 83, but Friday’s appearance would make the first time Geimer has appeared publicly at a court hearing in the case.

“Samantha Geimer is tired of this. She has been asking the court to terminate this case for years. She wants to get it over with,” the director’s attorney, Harland Braun, told Reuters on Thursday.

He said Geimer would help make the case that Polanski had served his time and should not be punished further.

Debra Tate, the sister of Polanski’s murdered actress wife Sharon Tate, will also attend Friday’s court hearing, Braun said.

Polanski’s case has been a cause celebre for 40 years. Following a 1977 guilty plea to rape and spending 42 days in jail, he fled the United States, fearing a plea bargain with prosecutors would be overruled and that he would get a lengthy prison term.

The most recent attempt to resolve matters ended in April when a Los Angeles judge ruled that the French-Polish director could not cut a deal from abroad to return to the United States without serving more jail time.

“Debra Tate is coming to support Roman. She hopes he will eventually get this case resolved,” Braun added. Polanski’s heavily pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered in 1969 at age 26 by followers of Charles Manson.

Braun said the aim of Friday’s hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court was to unseal testimony about the 1977 plea deal and use it as evidence to get European authorities to rescind the international arrest warrant against Polanski.

“We want to have the transcripts so we can show the people at Interpol that he has already done his time,” Braun said.

Polanski, whose films include “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Chinatown,” was arrested on U.S. warrants in both Poland and Switzerland during the past decade, but both countries ultimately declined to extradite him.

It was not clear whether Geimer or Tate would be permitted to address Friday’s court hearing. If they are not, they will make their case to media outside, Braun said.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, which has fought to have Polanski face justice in the United States, said it would ask the court to deny Braun’s request and any others “in the absence of new facts or a change of circumstance.”

Geimer, who now lives in Hawaii, helped promote a 2008 documentary about claims of judicial misconduct in the case. She said at the time that she does not believe Polanski is a danger to society who needs to be locked up.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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