Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski, who has spent the past 40 years on the run following allegations he raped a 13-year-old girl in California, has launched a legal bid to avoid further jail time if he returns to the United States.
Polanski, 83, claims he had a plea agreement in 1977 to serve 48 days in jail for the rape, according to documents filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by TMZ.
Polanski’s attorney Harland Braun has asked a judge to unseal a long-secret transcript of the testimony of the prosecutor in the Polanski case.
Braun believes the testimony supports Polanski’s claim that he cut a deal to avoid further jail time, and that a judge back then signed off on it. But later, the Polish-born director claims, the judge reneged on the deal and insisted he should spend 50 years behind bars.
Following his arrest in 1977, Polanski spent 42 days in Chino State Prison before he was released. Polanski claims the time he spent in the state prison, along with almost a year he spent on remand in Switzerland while fighting extradition, more than covers the original 48-day term stipulated in the deal.
It is understood that Polanski wants to return to the United States to visit the grave of his wife Sharon Tate.
The actress and model, who starred in “Valley of the Dolls,” was one of five people murdered by Charles Manson and his followers in her Benedict Canyon home in August 1969. She was 26 and eight months pregnant at the time.
Polanski, the director of such classics as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” “Tess” and 2002’s “The Pianist,” for which he won the Best Director Academy Award, has been dogged by the controversy for decades.
In 1977, the director was arrested at the home of his “Chinatown” star Jack Nicholson for the statutory rape of the girl who had been modeling for him for a Vogue magazine photo shoot around Nicholson’s pool.
As an adult, the victim, Samantha Geimer, sued Polanski for the alleged sexual assault and other claims and eventually settled the case with him in 1993.
In a 2011 interview, Geimer blamed the media, reporters, the court, and the judge for causing “way more damage” to her than Polanski had ever done.
As recently as last month, Polanski had to turn down an invitation to head the jury at the French Cesar film awards following an outcry by women’s groups.
The Cesars are the French version of the Oscars.
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities have received little support from other countries in their attempts to have Polanski extradited over the years.
Polanski has both Polish and French citizenship and lives most of the time in Paris. France does not extradite its nationals, the Daily Mail reported.
A Polish court last year ruled against his extradition to the United States, and an earlier attempt to have him extradited from Switzerland when he went there also failed.