Chinatown director has been a fugitive from US for 40 years after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s lawyer is hopeful of a deal that will allow the director to return to the United States without going to prison.

The Pianist director has been on the run from the US since 1978 after pleading guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor.

He served 42 days in prison in 1977 after he was accused of drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer.

At the time, Polanski claimed a US judge had agreed to a plea bargain in which the director would serve 48 days plus probation. He fled to France the day before sentencing, however, when he feared the deal would be scrapped in favour of a much longer sentence.

Now his attorney Harland Braun claims that a secret transcript of a 2010 testimony from prosecutor Roger Gunson supports the director’s case that he had an agreement to serve just 48 days.

Braun has written to Los Angeles county superior court judge Scott Gordon to unseal the transcript.

In 2016, the Polish supreme court ruled that Polanski had served his time under the original plea deal, rejecting a US request to extradite him.

This ruling, together with the secret testimony, should convince the US authorities that Polanski should not go back to jail, according to Braun.

He told AFP: “After we confirm the contents, we will urge the court to recognise the Polish decision resulting from a litigation initiated by the [district attorney] and in which the DA participated.

“If the court accepts the principle of comity, Roman can come to Los Angeles and to court without fear of custody.”

Eighty-three-year-old Polanski still inspires a mixture of reverence and revulsion among the public.

Many of his films, such as Chinatown, The Pianist and Rosemary’s Baby, are regarded as classics. However there was an outcry when he was picked to preside over the French Césars in January.—-

He pulled out of the event after a petition calling for his removal was signed by more than 60,000 people.