The 45-year rape case against filmmaker Roman Polanski has reached a major step towards potentially being resolved following a decision to finally allow transcripts of a former district attorney to be made public.
Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor – statutory rape – in August 1977 but fled to France from the United States before a sentencing hearing, and has lived abroad ever since.
Both the filmmaker, now 88, and Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, have long called for transcripts of retired prosecutor Roger Gunson to be unsealed over allegations of judicial misconduct.
Ms Geimer told the Los Angeles Superior Court in June 2017 that she had forgiven Polanski years ago and wanted the case put to rest, according to a Reuters news report from the time.
Now, after receiving a new letter from Ms Geimer, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon – who took up the role in December 2020 – has reversed the office’s previous position to keep the documents private, so that the case might be re-examined.
Ms Geimer, who was 13 when Polanski pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her, said in her letter that the “lack of resolution in this case has haunted my family for decades”.
She wrote: “If these allegations cannot be investigated, if Mr Polanski will never get the sentence he was promised of time served, the very least that can be done is for Mr Gunson’s testimony to see the light of day.
“I believe it is in the public interest not to allow the misconduct of the court to remain hidden. I believe as the victim in this case I deserve to know the whole truth.”
Ms Geimer said she had been “actively advocating for the release of this testimony since 2014” and that “the contempt and callousness of previous administrations towards myself and my family remains fresh in my memory”.
She continued: “I had given up hope that anyone would seek the truth in this matter, whatever the testimony contains… I ask for the consideration and respect I have been denied until this time.”
In a statement, Mr Gascon said: “This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest-running sagas in California criminal justice history’.
“For years, this office has fought the release of information that the victim and public have a right to know.
“After careful consideration of the victim’s wishes, the unique and extraordinary circumstances that led to his conditional exam and my commitment to transparency and accountability for all in the justice system, my office has determined it to be in the interest of justice to agree to the unsealing of these transcripts.”
Mr Gascon added that Polanski, known for films such as The Pianist and Chinatown, remains a fugitive from justice and should surrender himself to the LA County Superior Court to be sentenced.
Polanski was married to actress Sharon Tate, sharing a house with her before her murder at the hands of the Manson Family cult in 1969.