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Polanski's victim to request an end to extradition efforts

Samantha Geimer, who was sexually assaulted by the director in 1977, again comes to his aid. Her lawyer files papers accusing the prosecution of violating California victims' rights statutes.

January 22, 2010|By Harriet Ryan

In the 33 years since she accused Roman Polanski of rape, Samantha Geimer has publicly forgiven the acclaimed director, accused the U.S. justice system of mistreating him and urged a dismissal of his still pending criminal case.

Today, Geimer is expected to act again on Polanski's behalf and ask that a Los Angeles County judge halt efforts to extradite the filmmaker from Switzerland.

In papers filed in Superior Court on Thursday, Geimer's lawyer accused the Los Angeles County district attorney's office of violating state victims' rights statutes by not consulting Geimer before seeking extradition.

In the filing, attorney Lawrence Silver wrote that Marsy's Law -- a 2008 statute passed by ballot initiative -- gives crime victims the right "to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding . . . the determination whether to extradite the defendant."

The attorney said he wrote to prosecutors in July and made clear that Geimer wanted to meet with them and that she planned to "exercise every right that she may have under the Victims' Bill of Rights." Two months later, Polanski was arrested in Zurich on a three-decade-old arrest warrant, and prosecutors subsequently submitted a formal extradition request. A Swiss court has yet to decide the matter.

"The failure to give notice to and to confer prior to a determination to extradite the defendant . . . is a violation of the California Constitution," Silver wrote in the filing.

Hours after the documents were filed, the district attorney's office fired back with its own filing.

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren wrote that over the last year, Geimer and her attorney ignored repeated offers to discuss the case. The filing included copies of 11 e-mails that Walgren sent to Silver -- five of which contained offers to talk about the case.

"Despite multiple invitations to meet and confer, Mr. Silver has never once responded to these entreaties," Walgren wrote. He suggested the victims' rights statute was being twisted to benefit Polanski.

Marsy's Law "was intended to protect the rights of victims. It was not intended to be vicariously used by a defendant to avoid prosecution," Walgren wrote.

Geimer was 13 at the time of the crime and is now a wife and mother living in Hawaii. She has never changed her account of being raped and sodomized by Polanski during a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson's house in 1977, but her stance toward Polanski changed in the years after she and the director settled a civil suit brought against him for sexual assault and other claims. Under the terms of the 1993 confidential agreement, he agreed to pay her at least $500,000.

Judge Peter Espinoza, the supervising judge of the Superior Court's criminal division, will hear arguments today concerning Polanski's request to be sentenced in absentia.

A state appellate court proposed such a sentencing last month as a way to air the filmmaker's claims of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in the original handling of the case without requiring Polanski to return to the United States. Prosecutors have opposed the measure, saying it amounts to letting a fugitive dictate court proceedings. In her papers, Geimer said she favored sentencing in absentia.

It was the desire of Geimer's parents to spare her the ordeal of testifying at a public trial that led to a plea deal regarded then and now as exceptionally favorable to Polanski. He agreed to plead guilty to a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor -- a statutory rape charge.

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