Roman Polanski Breaks Silence, Issues Statement

Roman Polanski has broken his silence and issued a statement concerning his extradition. It's published in French in a magazine called La Regle du Jeu. The English translation is here. I've uploaded it here.

A hearing will be held Monday on whether to unseal the sworn statement of the former DA on the case, Roger Gunson, now retired. [More...]

The Los Angeles court has scheduled a hearing for next Monday on an effort by Mr. Polanski to unseal recent testimony in which, Mr. Polanski’s lawyers say, the prosecutor who handled his case, Roger Gunson, describes Judge Rittenband’s misconduct and intended limits on the sentence.

As to why Roman is breaking his silence now, he says:

I can remain silent no longer because there has just been a new development of immense significance. On February 26 last, Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney in charge of the case in 1977, now retired, testified under oath before Judge Mary Lou Villar in the presence of David Walgren, the present deputy district attorney in charge of the case, who was at liberty to contradict and question him, that on September 16, 1977, Judge Rittenband stated to all the parties concerned that my term of imprisonment in Chino constituted the totality of the sentence I would have to serve.

I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie. In the same statement, retired deputy district attorney Roger Gunson added that it was false to claim, as the present district attorney’s office does in their request for my extradition, that the time I spent in Chino was for the purpose of a diagnostic study.

The said request asserts that I fled in order to escape sentencing by the U.S. judicial authorities, but under the plea-bargaining process I had acknowledged the facts and returned to the United States in order to serve my sentence. All that remained was for the court to confirm this agreement, but the judge decided to repudiate it in order to gain himself some publicity at my expense.

I can remain silent no longer because for over 30 years my lawyers have never ceased to insist that I was betrayed by the judge, that the judge perjured himself, and that I served my sentence. Today it is the deputy district attorney who handled the case in the 1970s, a man of irreproachable reputation, who has confirmed all my statements under oath, and this has shed a whole new light on the matter.

The court should unseal Roger Gunson's testimony. The Swiss say they don't need it to resolve the issue of whether the extradition request is allowed under the treaty with the U.S. as they presume prosecutors seeking extradition requests are telling the truth. But the people of California have a right to know whether LA's current District Attorney, Steve Cooley, who is running for state Attorney General, made false statements in the extradition request. Gunson's testimony reportedly contradicts Cooley. If Cooley made false representations, California voters have a right to know this.

Free Roman.

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  • Display: Sort:
    externalizes the blame (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by diogenes on Sun May 02, 2010 at 05:26:17 PM EST
    "but under the plea-bargaining process I had acknowledged the facts..."
    Polanski never talks about what HE did.  Via the plea bargaining process he minimized what happened and got a slap on the wrist.  "It's all the judge's fault.  The judge betrayed, perjured him, etc, etc."  You'd think that Polanski was as pure as the driven snow.
    And does anyone really think that this was the only offense?  

    Whether Polanski is/was a nice guy or a scumbag (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 02, 2010 at 06:31:51 PM EST
    is not the issue here.  The issue here is whether or not the state, via the original judge and the current prosecutor, is a scumbag.

    The way it works here in the U.S. is that the government has to play it straight in the justice system-- whether the defendant is a scumbag or Mother Teresa's first cousin.

    If they're allowed to get away with playing fast and loose with Polanski (or the FBI with the four wiseguys falsely sent to prison for life for murder), next time it could be you.

    They often enough play these games with people who turn out to be wholly innocent.  Don't you ever read the papers?


    the fact is that (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:21:20 PM EST
    if you make a plea and then talk about how you weren't actually guilty, you can have your plea yanked and that is what happened.
    Yes the justice system sometimes takes advantage of those who have no power or money, but Polanski is not one of those people.  He committed a heinous crime and he ran when he had to face sentencing.  He used his money and fame to get a mother to offer up her child not knowing what would happen.  Had he been a faceless random 20 something young man, he would have spent years in prison.
    I don't think it is the system that is lying this time, I think it is a pathetic man who sodomized a young girl after drugging her and saw nothing wrong with that.

    yup... and after all (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:15:27 PM EST
    "everyone wants to f**k young girls"... what's the big deal?  He "made love" with a girl, what is wrong with that?

    Locally we have two judges that are being prosecuted for sending children to a juvenile detention facility and getting kick-backs from the for profit business.  When, after pleading guilty to a lesser offense they mouthed off about having done nothing more than what they plead to, the judge yanked them back to court and revoked the deal.
    That's legal, it is proper and I hope the two of them spend the rest of their lives locked up.  F*cking scum bags!
    I feel about the same about Polanski.  He mouthed off, he refused to take responsibility and he went to Europe which he considers much more civilized because there he could "f*ck young girls" without being punished.

    And he STILL doesn't understand that it is not about this one girl who he raped, it is about the US saying "hey buddy, you can't do that here".

    I think someone should call him a big orange waaaaaaaaaaaambulance.


    it's the only one (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 02, 2010 at 06:10:42 PM EST
    he pleaded guilty to -- unlawful sexual intercourse- and the only one that matters in the legal discussion. If you want to speculate on what you think happened or rely on one-sided accounts that were never tested by cross-examination, please do it elsewhere.

    He acknowledged the facts establishing unlawful sexual intercourse with a person who was not his wife. He acknowledged  knowing her age. That's it.


    not true (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:26:06 PM EST
    the facts are not in dispute about what he did.  And those fact are pertinent.  He plead to a lighter crime because the child's family wanted her spared a trial.  His mistake was then claiming he was not guilty of those other charges and making light of the crime "everyone wants to ___ young girls, Americans are so provincial and prudish". (in so many words)

    The judge was with in his rights to then revoke the plea. It's the law.


    since the taxpayer's (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sun May 02, 2010 at 09:50:08 PM EST
    are footing the bill for this, and it's already a matter of public record, there's no legitimate reason for any documents in this case to be sealed. national security isn't at issue, and all the parties to the case have been previously identified.

    aside from not wanting a colleague embarrased in public, i see no good reason for the judge to continue keeping these records out of public view.

    You Are Forgetting (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Sun May 02, 2010 at 10:05:27 PM EST
    Not just a colleague, but  someone who is running for election, has to save face, if there is an about face...

    But the people of California have a right to know whether LA's current District Attorney, Steve Cooley, who is running for state Attorney General, made false statements in the extradition request. Gunson's testimony reportedly contradicts Cooley. If Cooley made false representations, California voters have a right to know this.

    French law (none / 0) (#9)
    by Lupin on Thu May 06, 2010 at 11:27:08 AM EST
    French lawyer here.

    I would like to ask if anyone knows why, after Polanski (a French citizen) left the US to go home, the State of California did not file a criminal complaint against him in France.

    The French Code penal is very clear: La loi pénale française est applicable à tout crime commis par un Français hors du territoire de la République. Elle est applicable aux délits commis par des Français hors du territoire de la République si les faits sont punis par la législation du pays où ils ont été commis.

    In other words, French criminal law applies to any French citizen for offenses committed outside of France if said offenses are punishable by law in the country where they were committed.

    I think Mr. Polanski acted correctly in removing himself from an obviously corrupt California justice system, just as a number of Americans who may have committed offenses in Mexico return to the US in order to avoid being judged and/or sentenced in that country, because of the reputation (deserved or not) of its justice system.

    In any event, Mr. Polanski had the inalienable right to be tried and sentenced in France.

    Had Mr. Polanski tried in France, for the original crimes he had been charged with (France does not recognize plea bargains), and since the minor was under 15, the minimum sentence Mr. Polanski would have received, pretty much automatically, would have been 5 years. Possibly more.

    The Polanski case is doing considerable damage overseas to the reputation of the US criminal justice system, already tarnished by its (mis)use of death penalty and high profile "miscarriages" à la OJ Simpson.

    Fortunately, you have excellent TV shows like BOSTON LEGAL and THE PRACTICE to counterbalance that image.