A former prosecutor said he lied to a film crew about advising a judge to send director Roman Polanski to prison more than 30 years ago.
David F. Wells is depicted conferring with now-deceased trial judge Laurence J. Rittenband about Polanski's case in the HBO documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. In the film, Wells said the judge took his advice to renege on a plea bargain and sentence Polanski to additional jail time.
Watch Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
"I made that up to make the stuff look better," Wells told The Associated Press
, adding that he overstated his role after he was told the film would air in France, not in the United States. "They interviewed me in the Malibu courthouse when I was still a DA, and I embellished a story. I'm a guy who cuts to the chase — I lied. It embarrasses the hell of me."The documentary's director, Marina Zenovich, responded that she never said the film would not air in the U.S. She also expressed amazement about Wells' changing his story."Since June of 2008, the film has been quite visible on U.S. television via HBO, in theaters and on DVD, so it is odd that David Wells has not brought this issue to my attention before," she said. "At no point in the four years since our interview has he ever raised any issues about its content. In fact, in a July 2008 story in The New York Times
, Mr. Wells corroborated the account of events that he gave in my film. I am astonished that he has now changed his story. It is a sad day for documentary filmmakers when something like this happens."Wells, now retired for more than two years, didn't handle Polanski's case, but he was assigned to the courtroom where it was heard, which led to several interactions with the judge. His comments in the film led Polanski's lawyers to move for dismissal of the case against the fugitive director, the AP reported.
Check out all of Polanski's filmmaking credits
Polanski, the 76-year-old Oscar-winning director of The Pianist,
pleaded guilty in 1978 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with an underage girl. The judge agreed to send Polanski to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, he was released after 42 days and fled to France after the judge reportedly told lawyers of his plan to add more jail time.Polanski, whose credits also include Rosemary's Baby
and Chinatown, was arrested Saturday
in Zurich, where he was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival. French government officials who initially spoke out against the way Polanski was arrested are backtracking slightly.
NEWS: Fellow filmmakers call for Roman Polanski's release
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who previously called the arrest a "bit sinister," said Thursday that "no one is above the law," according to an interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio.Wells said he still believes that Polanski deserves a longer sentence, but apologized for his actions. "I cost the DA's office a lot of money and aggravation over this," Wells said. He has also agreed to testify that he lied in the film.