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Polanski’s Sex Assault Victim Seeks Legal End

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An attorney for the woman who was sexually assaulted as a child by film director Roman Polanski in 1977 said his client would like to see the criminal case settled once and for all--including an arrangement under which Polanski could return to the United States without serving prison time.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest that this sorry event which occurred now 17 years ago be put to rest and allow the parties to live their lives as normally as possible,” attorney Lawrence Silver said.

Late last year, the woman and Polanski reached an out-of-court settlement of a civil lawsuit she filed stemming from the unlawful encounter at the otherwise unoccupied home of actor Jack Nicholson. Polanski fled the country in early 1978 just before he was to be sentenced for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Silver would not disclose either the terms of the settlement or the name of his client, now 30, who is identified only as “Jane Doe” in legal papers. She was 13 at the time of the assault.

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He said the woman, who at last report was living in Hawaii, had no interest in being interviewed. Silver added that her willingness to see the criminal case dropped was not a condition of the settlement of the civil case, which she filed in 1988.

“Each time the issue comes up, it raises for my client the specter of a re-examination of the matter,” the lawyer said.

“One way to get it past her is to have all the legal entanglements (resolved), including Mr. Polanski’s return to the United States,” Silver said, “so frankly, she doesn’t have to read about it anymore in the morning paper or hear about it anymore in the national news.”

Polanski, director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and more recently “Bitter Moon,” fled Los Angeles after undergoing a 42-day diagnostic study at the state prison in Chino.

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Years later, in his autobiography, Polanski claimed that he left the country after Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, who has since died, reneged on an arrangement that he serve no more than 90 days prison time at Chino.

Rittenband, according to lawyers in the case, said he intended to give Polanski, then 42, a prison term but would shorten it if the director accepted voluntary deportation.

Over the years, Polanski, who continues to direct films in Europe, has sought several times through intermediaries to strike a deal to stay out of prison if he returned to the United States.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger J. Gunson said Monday that his office continues to hold firm to its position that Polanski give himself up and let a judge determine his fate.

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“Mr. Polanski will have to surrender to the court and let the court decide what should happen in the case,” Gunson said. “It’s the position we’ve had since the first approach.”

Gunson said the last communication he had with attorneys representing Polanski came almost two years ago when Polanski’s lawyers informally asked a judge whether the film director, if he returned, would be placed in custody while the case was resolved.

Gunson said that after the settlement of the civil case, he received a letter from Silver asking that the criminal case be resolved.

“Our response was that our position would remain the same,” Gunson said. “That is, that the way that Mr. Polanski can resolve this case is by submitting to the jurisdiction of the court.”

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Polanski’s longtime criminal attorney, Douglas Dalton, did not return phone calls Monday. But a spokesman for Dalton said: “A deal has not been struck for Mr. Polanski’s return.”


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