It’s been 32 years since film director Roman Polanski was tried and convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. In 1977, the case drew worldwide attention, with many commentators at the time using it to show the depravity and excess of Hollywood. Polanski, fearful a judge would back out of a plea agreement and send him to prison, left the country prior to his sentencing to live in France.
It must have come as quite a shock when he was arrested in Switzerland this past weekend. He was there, after all, to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival. He’d traveled there many times before, and even maintains a home in Switzerland. Yet the ghosts of 32 years past won’t go away. It’s possible Roman Polanski will be extradited to the US to face the sentence he ran away from all those years ago.
Ironically, it could also mean freedom. A lot has happened since Polanski was convicted, and his legal team has been fighting his conviction based on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Those were chronicled in a documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” released last year. Regardless, Polanski’s arrest has set off not just a legal tussle, but a diplomatic storm involving the Swiss, French, US, and Polish governments.
Polanski has spent the past 32 years as the world’s most celebrated convicted child molester. Despite the time facing him in the US, he’s directed films around the world apparently without fear of getting busted and sent back. He’s now a French citizen, and France has no formal extradition treaty with the US. He even received an Oscar in absentia for the 2002 film “The Pianist”. Despite having to be careful about where he went, Polanski hasn’t exactly lived as a wanted man.
Which leads to a few questions. How badly over the past 32 years has the US actually wanted him back here to do his time? There are reports US marshals came close to busting him on several occasions, but for one reason or another, Roman Polanski eluded their grasp. Then there’s the question of whether Polanski’s obvious and extraordinary talent and his tragic past mitigates his original crime.
For those who may have forgotten, the guy was originally charged with drugging a 13 year old girl, then having sex with her. The original charges could have landed him in prison for life, but he plea bargained down to a single count of having sex with a minor.
The victim, Samantha Geimer, publicly identified herself a long time ago, and has forgiven Polanski.
She also sued him, and received an unspecified settlement. So the question remains, what to do about Roman Polanski?
Should he be brought back here to serve the typical 16 months to three years he’s avoided all this time? Should the protests of France and Poland be heeded, and Polanski released from custody in Switzerland? If he does come back here, is there a good chance the original case will be thrown out? What’s best?
Take my poll on the left and post a comment here!