Judge Rejects Polanski Request to be Sentenced in Absentia

Polanski has been under house arrest since being released from custody Dec. 4.

A Los Angeles judge Friday rejected Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski's request to be sentenced in absentia for his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza's ruling came despite a request from the victim in the three-decade-old case that prosecutors withdraw their request to extradite Polanski from Switzerland, where he was arrested Sept. 26 at the request of U.S. authorities.

Polanski has been under house arrest at his ski chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad since being released from custody Dec. 4. On Dec. 26, he signed a one-page notarized document in which he asked that "judgment be pronounced against me in my absence."

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Los Angeles County prosecutors opposed the request from the Academy Award-winning director, who fled the United States in 1978.

"The defendant is a fugitive," Deputy District Attorney David Walgren wrote in court papers filed last week. "The defendant should not, indeed must not, be allowed to dictate to this court or any other court, under what terms these proceedings should proceed. Mr. Polanski must surrender."

In court documents filed earlier this week, Polanski's attorneys urged the judge to go along with his request.

"To allow Mr. Polanski to be sentenced in absentia could finally end this case without Mr. Polanski needing to return to the jurisdiction," wrote attorneys Chad S. Hummel and Bart Dalton.

Polanski fled to France before he could be sentenced, after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband -- who has since died -- indicated he was going to reject a plea agreement under which the director would have been able to stay out of prison.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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