LOS ANGELES – The case involving Roman Polanski, who fled the United States after he forced himself on a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot, has spanned 45 years, sparking court battles on both sides of the Atlantic. On Sunday, The Associated Press obtained an unsealed court transcript of the former prosecutor in the case testifying that the judge privately told lawyers he would renege on a promise and imprison the renowned director.
Here are some key dates in the long-running case, which has kept Polanski living in exile in Europe:
March 10, 1977 — Roman Polanski conducts a photo shoot with a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson’s house. As she later testifies, Polanski gives the girl champagne and part of a sedative during the shoot, then forced her to have sex. She says she repeatedly told Polanski no during intercourse, but says she did not fight him because she was afraid of him. The girl’s mother calls police after finding out what happened.
March 24, 1977 — A grand jury indicts Polanski on six felony charges, including rape, furnishing a controlled substance to a minor and sodomy. He later pleads not guilty at arraignment.
August 1977 — Polanski pleads guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and a judge orders the director to undergo further proceedings.
September 1977 — A judge orders the director to undergo a 90-day diagnostic screening at a California state prison to help determine sentencing.
January 1978 — The diagnostic screening — completed after 42 days — recommends Polanski be placed on probation.
Feb. 1, 1978 — Polanski flees the United States on eve of sentencing after learning that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband intended to send Polanski back to prison. An arrest warrant is issued, confining Polanski’s movements to France, Poland and Switzerland. Polanski alleges Rittenband met with a prosecutor who was not assigned to the case — without Polanski’s lawyer present — to discuss sentencing.
September 1997 — A new judge meets with prosecutors and Polanski’s attorney to discuss the case in chambers. The meeting is not reported, and elements of the discussion remain in dispute. Polanski’s attorney contends the judge wanted Polanski’s sentencing hearing televised, which the judge denies. Prosecutors contend Polanski sought to be sentenced without reporters present, which the director denies.
November 2002 — Lawyers for Conde Nast Publications successfully unseal grand jury testimony presented in Polanski’s case.
March 2003 — Polanski wins the best director Academy Award for “The Pianist,” but is unable to collect his Oscar in person due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
December 2008 — Polanski’s lawyers seek a dismissal of the charges against him. His motion is supported by his victim.
February 2009 — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejects Polanski’s dismissal motion, stating that Polanski must appear in court to resolve his case. The order goes into effect in May 2009.
July 2009 — Polanski appeals the February ruling in his case.
September 2009 — Polanski is arrested in Switzerland pursuant to a warrant. Extradition proceedings begin.
December 2009 — A California court panel rejects Polanski’s appeal, ruling that the director must appear in court to resolve his case.
January 2010 — Polanski’s lawyers request the director be sentenced without being present in Los Angeles.
February and March 2010 — A Los Angeles court takes sealed testimony from Roger Gunson, the original prosecutor who handled Polanski’s case, about his recollections of the judge’s 1977 promises to the director.
May 2010 — A judge rejects a motion by Polanski’s lawyers to unseal Gunson’s testimony.
July 2010 — Switzerland rejects U.S. request to extradite Polanski, citing its inability to obtain the Gunson testimony.
December 2014 — Polanski’s lawyers seek an evidentiary hearing to explore the director’s allegations of judicial misconduct in Los Angeles. A judge rejects the motion without conducting a hearing.
February 2015 — Polanski appears in a Polish court for hours of questioning on whether a U.S. request to extradite the director is valid.
October 2015 — A Polish court rejects an effort to extradite Polanski.
May 2016 — Poland’s new justice minister revives extradition proceedings against Polanski.
December 2016 — The Polish Supreme Court rules Polanski will not be extradited to the United States.
February 2017 — Polanski’s attorney seeks an order in Los Angeles to unseal Gunson’s testimony. Later motions by Polanski seek an order confirming the director should not serve any additional time behind bars if he returns to Los Angeles. Polanski’s lawyer relies on information included in a lengthy Polish court decision.
April 2017 — A Los Angeles judge rejects Polanski’s requests to be sentenced without returning to court or for a determination he has served his sentence.
June 2017 — Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, appears in a Los Angeles court to ask a judge to end the case, calling it a “40-year-sentence” imposed on both her and the director.
August 2017 — A Los Angeles judge rejects Geimer’s request to end Polanski’s case.
May 3, 2018 — The film academy announces it has expelled Polanski and Bill Cosby, who was convicted of a sex offense a week earlier, from its membership.
July 13, 2022 — A California appeals court orders the unsealing of Gunson's testimony after Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón dropped longstanding objections his predecessors made to its release.
July 17, 2022 — The transcript is provided to The Associated Press showing that the prosecutor believed the judge had broken his promises to Polanski.