Sex with 13-year-old girl

Polanski 'has reached a plea deal'

LOS ANGELES • Fugitive film-maker Roman Polanski plans to return to the United States and is seeking assurances he will do no further jail time over unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The award-winning director of The Pianist (2002) and Chinatown (1974), who has been on the run for almost 40 years, claims he reached a plea deal in the case that would keep him out of prison, his attorney Harland Braun said.

Mr Braun has written to Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Scott Gordon to unseal a secret transcript of the testimony of the prosecutor in the Polanski case, which he believes will confirm the deal.

The Paris-born director was accused of drugging Samantha Gailey - who now uses the surname Geimer - before raping her at film star Jack Nicholson's house in Los Angeles in 1977.

Polanski, who has Polish and French citizenship, admitted having unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, and spent 42 days in Chino State Prison before being released.

But, in 1978, he fled to France, convinced a judge was going to scrap the plea deal and hand him a hefty prison sentence. He was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 on a US extradition request and spent 10 months under house arrest before Bern rejected the US order.

The US then asked Poland to extradite Polanski in January 2015, but the country's Supreme Court ruled in December that he had served his time under the plea deal.

Mr Braun believes the secret testimony of prosecutor Roger Gunson collected in 2010 in the US supports Polanski's claim that he had an agreement to serve just 48 days and that - taken with the Polish decision - it should convince the US authorities Polanski has served his time.

"After we confirm the contents, we will urge the court to recognise the Polish decision resulting from a litigation initiated by the (district attorney) and in which the DA participated," Mr Braun said. "If the court accepts the principle of comity, Roman can come to Los Angeles and to court without fear of custody."

Polanski's French legal team said the film-maker was not intending to be present at a hearing scheduled for next week in Los Angeles to consider a request. The film director told the private news channel TVN24 after the Polish court had ruled in his favour that he was "happy this business is over once and for all".

"I only regret that I had to wait so long. I'll finally be able to feel safe in my own country."

Polanski, who lives in France and had been avoiding Poland because of the case, said he planned to visit his father's grave in the southern city of Krakow.

He has been engaged in a decades-long cat-and-mouse game with US officials seeking his extradition for trial, before a global audience split between continuing outrage and forgiveness for his acts.

Polanski wants to visit the grave of his second wife, Sharon Tate, in Los Angeles, celebrity news website TMZ reported.

AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Polanski 'has reached a plea deal''. Print Edition | Subscribe