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Roman Polanski's legal team taking another run at closing rape case, report says

Roman Polanski is reportedly taking another run at wrapping up his statutory-rape case without doing more time behind bars, according to a report out Thursday. A victory would theoretically lay the groundwork for ending the “Chinatown” director’s fugitive status.

Polanski lawyer Harland Braun is asking an L.A. Superior Court judge to unseal testimony from a prosecutor in the case accusing the Polish-born director of raping a 13-year-old girl in March 1977, according to TMZ.

After striking an “open plea” deal later that year — a deal that left sentencing up to the judge — Polanski, who was 44 at the time, pleaded guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

According to court records, he admitted having had sex that March with the girl at actor Jack Nicholson's Mulholland Drive home.

As part of the plea deal, Polanski agreed to undergo 90 days of psychiatric evaluation at a state prison (he was released after serving 42 days);  prison officials advised the judge that test results showed his sentence should not include additional incarceration.

However, in early 1978, a day before sentencing, he fled the United States to avoid what he feared would be serious prison time.

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According to TMZ, in regards to the latest move, the Oscar winner's team believes the sealed testimony supports Polanski's contention that the judge reneged after signing off on the plea deal and intended to sentence him to additional time in prison.

For years, the director’s attorneys have been pressing to get the case dismissed. Judicial and prosecutorial misconduct was alleged in 2008, and again in 2014.

Since 1978, Polanski, now 83, has primarily lived in countries that won’t  extradite him to the U.S., despite attempts that were rejected as recently as December 2016. 

“I pleaded guilty. I went to prison. I have done my penalty. The case is closed,” Polanski told the Associated Press in 2015 after a victory in a Polish court. He was apparently referring to the 42-day pre-sentencing “diagnostic testing”  he went through at the California state prison in Chino before he fled.

In a 2009 extradition attempt, Polanski was detained by police at the Zurich Airport after trying to enter Switzerland to attend a film festival there, then spent nearly a year under house arrest at his chalet after posting $4.5-million bail. Swiss authorities decided in mid-2010 that they would not extradite him to the U.S., and he was free to go.

The director still hasn’t collected the Oscar he won in 2003 for helming “The Pianist.”

In a 2013 memoir titled “The Girl,” Samantha Geimer, née Gailey, gave her account of what happened in 1977. “I'm all right,” she told the Los Angeles Times when the book was released. “I was not all right the year after it happened ... but I'm OK now.”

In other Polanski news, Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday that it had acquired North American distribution rights to Polanski's French-language film "Based on a True Story," which stars Emmanuelle Seigner and Eva Green and recently wrapped production in Paris. 

cdz@latimes.com

@theCDZ

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