Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said transcripts from the testimony from a former prosecutor connected to the Roman Polanski case should be released — more than 40 years after the director fled the US after he pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the embattled prosecutor said unsealing the grand jury testimony of retired prosecutor Roger Gunson is necessary to conduct an investigation into alleged judicial misconduct in the decades-old case.
“This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest-running sagas in California criminal justice history,’” Gascón said. “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.”
The 88-year-old director of the 2002 Oscar-winning film “The Pianist” fled to France in 1978 before he could be sentenced by a Los Angeles judge.
Polanski remains a fugitive and still has a warrant out for his arrest that would be served should he return to the US.
The victim — Samantha Geimer— was 13 years old when Polanski pleaded to sexually assaulting her in 1977. Geimer, now a grandmother in her 50s, pleaded in front of a judge in 2017 to throw out the case as an act of mercy to her family.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon, however, denied Geimer’s request and said in an August 2017 ruling that although he was sympathetic to her testimony, closing the case was not in the best interest of justice.
Gordon wrote, “The statement of the victim in this matter is strong evidence of the actual and very real impact that sexual assault has on the survivor of sexual assault.”
The judge added, “In this case, Ms. Geimer was a victim of serious crimes committed by the Defendant when she was 13 years old. Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long-lasting and traumatic effect these crimes, and Defendant’s refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life.”
In a June 20 letter to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Geimer said she has been fighting for years to unseal Gunson’s grand jury testimony. She continues to call for an investigation into the misconduct that allegedly occurred in the case.
“In the 45-year history of this case, Roger Gunson has been the only person from the DA’s office who has treated myself and my family with dignity and respect. That is until now,” Geimer wrote. “I have felt that this misconduct has been deliberately concealed and the only interest in my case has been to use it to garner PR value or personal advancement of those who sought to (sic) involve themselves in it. I hope that even at this late date, your administration will take a fresh look and the truth will finally come to light.
She continued, “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.”
In a July 12 letter to the Court of Appeals, Los Angeles County prosecutors said while they remained “steadfast in the determination” to hold Polanski accountable, disclosing Gunson’s testimony to the public is “in the interest of justice.”
Polanski’s defense attorney, Harland Braun, told The Post on Tuesday that the transcripts would confirm judges allegedly conspired against his client. Braun maintains that Polanski had a plea deal in 1978 that should’ve allowed the director to be sentenced for time he had already served.
He said an affidavit showed judges had a secret meeting where they allegedly decided that if Polanski were to come back to Los Angeles, they would place the director in jail to “cool his heels for a while.”
“We’ve got a conspiracy among the judges where they’ve agreed to put him in jail, even though he no longer owes any time … so why would you come back to that system,” Braun said. “When this is finally released, hopefully people will be able to take a second look at it. There was complete dishonesty by the courts with what happened in this case.
He added, “Hopefully, (Gascón) will be able to take a look at it and he’ll agree that Roman should be sentenced in absentia. The next move then would be to disqualify the entire court system in Los Angeles.”
Steve Cooley, who served as Los Angeles County District Attorney from 2000 to 2012, said Gascón is using the infamous director’s case to deflect the mounting pressure of the recall effort to oust him from office.
Last week, organizers of the “Recall George Gascón” announced they have collected more than 715,000 signed petitions to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office. At least 566,857 valid signatures are required to qualify for the recall.
“This move by Gascón is pathetic and grandstanding by a desperate, dysfunctional, erstwhile prosecutor,” Cooley told The Post on Tuesday. “This proves once again that Gascón does not know and would not know the function of a prosecution even if it bit him in the ass.”
Braun said Polanski still would like to return to Los Angeles to visit the grave site of his wife, Sharon Tate, and their unborn son, Paul. Tate was one of five people killed at Polanski’s Los Angeles home by members of the “Manson Family” and at the behest of cult leader Charles Manson.
Tate was eight and a half months pregnant at the time she was brutally murdered.
“He’d love to come back here,” Braun told The Post. “He hasn’t seen his wife’s grave, his son’s grave … for all these years. So when he heard about (Gascón’s statement), he was hopeful. He just said, ‘Good news!’”