Appeals Court Orders Sealed Testimony in Roman Polanski’s Rape Case Opened

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A California appeals court has ordered that sealed testimony from Roman Polanski’s 1970s child rape case be opened, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday.

The court order will unseal the transcripts of secret testimony given by Roger Gunson, a former Deputy District Attorney who led the prosecution of Polanski after he admitted to drugging and raping a 13 year old girl in 1977.

Despite the vile nature of his crime, Polanski worked out a plea deal that would have seen him plead guilty to unlawful sex with a minor and received a mandatory psychiatric evaluation, followed by probation. In exchange, other more serious charges, including a charge of rape via drugs, would be dropped. He was even allowed to leave the country to work on a film during this period.

However, in 1978, after Polanski learned that the presiding judge, Laurence Rittenband, had reconsidered the plea agreement and was intending to give the director a much more severe sentence, he fled the country and has largely lived in France since then.

Polanski’s legal team alleges that the Rittenband was inappropriately influenced by a public opinion and by ex parte statements made by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Wells, and that Gunson’s testimony might bear this out.

“We are pleased that today in the Roman Polanski case, the appellate court ordered the unsealing of the conditional deposition transcript of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson. This decision comes less than 48 hours after we submitted a letter rescinding our objection to the release,” Gascón said in a statement.

“We are pleased the appellate court agreed with both the victim and our office about the need for transparency. The court’s decision helped us move toward upholding our responsibility to tell the public the truth, and to listen to survivors. We hope it gives her a small measure of assurance that eventually, she can have some measure of closure in this decades-long litigation,” Gascón continued.

No timetable was given for the unsealing of the documents.

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