Roman Polanski File Unsealed by Los Angeles DA Amid Decades-Long Allegations by Victim of Prosecutorial Misconduct

PC: Film director Roman Polanski in 2018. (AP Photo, file) via courthousenews.com

By Leila Katibah

LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Tuesday his office no longer objects to the unsealing of the conditional examination transcripts of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson in the case of People v. Roman Polanski.

In August 1977, Roman Polanski plead guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. This was the result of a plea bargain after he initially plead not guilty to five more serious charges involving rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.

After completing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation in 1978 and before a sentencing hearing could take place, he fled the U.S. and now remains mostly in France. Polanski is a fugitive from justice by continuing to fail to surrender himself to American authorities.

Allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the Polanski case were first revealed in 2014, when the victim in the case, who has since identified herself to the public as Samantha Geimer, wrote a letter to former District Attorney Jackie Lacey asking her office to investigate misconduct occurring in 1977 and 1978.

Upon further consultation with Geimer, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced it will unseal the deposition of Gunson, noting Gunson’s testimony as “a post-plea evidentiary hearing on judicial and prosecutorial misconduct rather than a conditional examination to preserve the testimony of a vulnerable victim or witness” in its filing with the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District.

The DA further noted, given that the victim herself has requested the unsealing, issues of safety are not present within this case, and reiterated unsealing the testimony would best serve the interests of justice, as the Polanski case is “one of the longest running sagas in California criminal justice history.”

The DA’s office explains that “the public and the victim have the right to know and scrutinize the transcript as it relates to the conduct of judicial officers and prosecutors who served on their behalf.”

In 2009, after a judge and court panel declined his motion and subsequent appeal to dismiss the case due to his failure to appear in person, Polanski was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, in relation to his outstanding warrant from 1978. Despite prior negotiations between the Swiss and American governments, Polanski was ultimately released following house arrest.

Geimer’s letter came five years following Polanski’s arrest in Zurich and the release of the opinion of the Second Appellate Court of Appeals of the State of California, Second Appellate District released December 21, 2009, explaining the Court’s deep concerns about allegations of misconduct not being addressed nor investigated.

The Court deemed the allegations of of sexual abuse of a minor by Polanski to be an urgent matter of exploration, explaining how the passage of more time will only obstruct justice, hinder the search for truth, and prolong the victim’s agony.

In the Court opinion, concern for the greater implications the unaddressed misconducts have on the justice system were noted, professing “we all exhort all participants in this extended drama to place the integrity of the criminal justice system above the desire to punish any one individual, whether for his offense or his flight.”

Geimer elaborated on the additional allegations made since the 2009 Court Opinion and the original proceedings in 1977 and 1978.

Allegations include former prosecutor David Wells, originally assigned to the case in 1977 and claimed he lied in a documentary about the case, revelations about Judge Larry Fidler’s handling of the case, and Steven Cooley’s hostile attitudes toward the victim and the California Victim’s Bill of Rights.

The victim’s letter declared, “I have been the lonely voice of a woman and a victim in a choir of the voices of powerful men and their individual agendas.  I ask only that you find the truth, that you demonstrate the integrity of the Los Angeles District Attorneys’ Office and seek that justice not be delayed or denied any further.”

On June 20, 2022, the victim wrote another letter to Diana M. Teran, Director of Prosecution Operations at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, requesting to unseal the witness testimony of Roger Gunson, despite being initially refused.

The District Attorney’s office claimed Polanski must surrender himself to the American authorities before an investigation of the prosecutorial misconduct is conducted.

Although Geimer previously regarded Gunson as the sole person from the District Attorney’s Office who treated her family with dignity and respect, she explains that has now changed, believing the misconducts have been deliberately sealed “to garner PR value or personal advancement of those who sought to involve themselves in it.”

She declares it is in the public’s best interest and her best interest as the victim to reveal the misconduct of the Court and that unsealing Gunson’s witness testimony is the least the District Attorney’s office could do if they refuse to investigate the allegations and if Polanski never gets the sentence he was promised.

The lack of resolution on the case has haunted her family for decades, she said.

She said she worries the media attention, coupled with the release of her sealed testimony before a grand jury to journalists without a prior notification, will force her to explain her traumatic experience to her six-year-old granddaughter.

In her closing, she requested the current administration allow Gunson’s testimony to be unsealed after highlighting “the callousness and contempt of previous administrations,” and asking for the respect and consideration she has previously been denied.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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