A retired Los Angeles County prosecutor who claimed in a 2008 documentary that he advised a judge to sentence Roman Polanski to prison for having sex with a minor now says that he lied on film about his role in the case.
The on-camera statements by David Wells in “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” were seized upon by Polanski’s defense attorneys, who say in court documents that Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband and Wells engaged in misconduct by improperly discussing the 1977 case behind closed doors.
Wells, who at the time of the alleged misconduct was not the assigned prosecutor on the case, claimed in the film that he spoke to Rittenband before sentencing and told the judge that Polanski deserved prison time.
He claimed that he suggested a way that the judge could sentence the director to prison by sending him to Chino State Prison for a 90-day “diagnostic testing,” despite a probation officer’s recommendation that Polanski serve no time behind bars.
“That was not true,” Wells told The Times today during a brief interview. “I like to speak of it as an inept statement, but the reality is that it was a lie.”
Wells, 71, said that he made up the story, believing that the documentary would never been shown in the United States. The film was broadcast on HBO.
In January, Wells told The Times that he regretted making the statements but never said they were untrue. Rittenband died in 1993. Wells said today that he notified the district attorney’s office several months ago that he had lied during the film and apologized for his actions.
I don't think that they want Polanski exonerated, or made out to be some kind of hero. Innocent and brave, he is not. Exiled and disgraced, that was preferable to exposing the fact that the prosecution of this man in the late 1970s was a terrible farce.
If this case had been about something other than sex with an underage girl, this case would have been hurled back into the District Attorney's office like the bad faith act that it was. If Polanski had been a two-bit member of the underworld, facing a murder rap or a manslaughter rap, the prosecutorial misconduct would have been easy to pick apart and flush down the tubes.
By all means, bring Polanski back and put him on trial. Simply by exposing how corrupt it all was, it further weakens and damages the standing of the District Attorney's office in the minds of the people.