Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland

230px-polanskiiffkvWhile justice delayed may be justice denied, but justice appears to have caught up with Roman Polanski — just 31 years delayed. To the surprise of his family and lawyers, Swiss authorities arrested the seventy-six-year-old famous director on the outstanding international warrant.

Polanski was able to move freely in Europe for decades despite being one of the world’s best recognized fugitives.

He was detained when he arrived at Zurich airport and was being held in provisional detention in preparation for a possible extradition to the United States.

He has been avoiding arrest after his conviction in California for sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geime, at the home of Jack Nicholson. She claimed to have been drugged. She has since said that she forgives him.

Polanski fled before sentencing and relied on his fame and friends to continue his artistic work and opulent lifestyle.

Polanski’s lawyers have been trying to get the case dismissed, here. That effort may have backfired in drawing renewed attention to his case — and the fact that the California courts still want him arrested.

The French have been accused of protecting Polanski and he went to Zurich for its film festival, where he was going to receive a lifetime achievement award. France continues to defend Polanski and is working for his release, here.

If presented to a United States court, most judges would feel compelled to hit him with a heavy sentence due to his open contempt and flight from the prior court. This is a case where “celebrity justice” may be harsher than ordinary justice. For a prior column, click here.

symbionese_liberation_army_radical_sara_jane_olsonA good point of comparison would be the sentence given to Sara Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Ann Soliah). She committed her crimes with the Symbionese Liberation Army (including kidnapping Patty Hearst) and was indicted in 1976. That was just one year before Polanski and remained a fugitive for 24 years (as opposed to Polanski’s 31 years). Moreover, she was in hiding as opposed to Polanski who was viewed as virtually taunting the court by living in the open and was seen as conveying that the wealthy could live by a separate set of rules than the rest of society.

Olson was just released (here) after seven years prison. She pleaded guilty in 2001 (unlike Polanski who pleaded guilty, she was not tried in the seventies). She received 20 years to life. She was released after seven years due to a decision of the parole board to reduce the sentence.

For the full story, click here and here.

51 thoughts on “Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland”

  1. What of these allegations the original judge nixed the plea deal? Was there a negotiated agreement on the record with the exact amount of time and whatnot? Of course he can’t voluntarily absent himself from the jurisdiction, but, I’ve read the original judge (who is dead) stepped in it; causing him to run. If he is on record as to a deal, and there is a record or affidavits supporting the judge making ex-parte comments or statements indicating a legit motion to dq, this is a tough issue to examine even though there will be “celebrity justice.”

    I ain’t defending a guy who raped someone (well, I am to an extent), but, it’s easy to let emotions cloud one’s judgment here. The motion to dismiss was not heard on the merits. The merits of the defense motion are not discussed here. I agree, even Quixote would turn around before moving to DQ the entire LA bench, but, I’m curious (sue me) as to the sharp legal analysis here… specifically WTF did the the original judge do, why did Polanski think the deal was going to be nixed, is there merit to that claim… etc.

    If Polanski’s motion (bounced only b/c his was a little out of town) is heard on the merits, what then? Direct contempt? BFD. Do the terms of the original deal apply and how do they jive with the dead judge’s comments if any? The original deal was allegedly a cakewalk. Easy to get blinded here. What if the judge went off the reservation? Defendants skip sentencing or turn in dates all the time and it’s not a big deal unless they plead to the max with a caveat of mitigation upon turn in. Here, we have that, plus, some questions that will unfortunately get lost in translation.

    Basically, this thing is hairier than most give it credit for. Not because people think what he did was morally o.k. (it’s sick), but because the original deal was light and he ran. Folks use that as a pretext for screwing Polanski over. I want the truth and a deal enforced if he’s right. Hit him for contempt. That’s the law. And even then, I can think of a defense. Reasonable perception the judge would be unfair based on statements. Dude has a defense.

  2. I am unclear why a man who admitted to raping a child and then fled after he pleaded guilty should be offered sympathy, let alone a free ride. He raped a child. He drugged her to make her compliant, then raped her. I have no doubt that the victim would like to have this go away, since she is reminded of that horror every time Polanski appears in the news, but once he is in prison (which is where you send a man who raped a child), his name will rightly disappear. People. He raped a child.

  3. The long arm of Los Angeles County Justice and the great state of California flexes its’ legal and relentless muscle….

  4. Lock this child molester up for the rest of his miserable life! That is more than what he deserves! He deserves death, according to Old testament standards! It’s alright for his victim to forgive him. However, he still needs to be brought to justice, if for no other reason than to serve as an example to all the other pedophiles and child molesters out there that justice is a tireless hunter and it’s job is not complete until it has hunted you down! That goes for you, too, G. Smythe! And Tammy, you need a wake up call!! Seriously!

  5. He raped and sodomized a 13 year old girl (according to her grand jury testimony). From my assessment of the crime and similar crimes, in my opinion this was not the only time he raped a child–or an adult for that matter–it is the only time he got caught. He should rot in jail, to prove that justice is equal for all. I am appalled that the French and Poles are trying protecting this criminal.

  6. After living the “High Life” for 31 years on the run it’s time for him to face the justice he deserves. Unlike Olsen who had to live in fear while in hiding this pedophile was able to indulge in the best life has to offer. If celebrity justice is more harsh its only becasue celebrities are able to skirt many of the rules which govern the rest of us.

  7. The fact that he is a “celebrity” and he RAN away from his own country makes this case as bad as it is and that he is a liar and a coward – and receiving benefits from another country – he drugged and raped a child. He admitted he drugged and raped the child. He is a CRIMINAL! And a COWARD, just like the FRENCH! HE ADMITTED HIS CRIME AND THEN RAN AWAY! He was convicted of a crime. Get it?

    His films are really terrible.

  8. This whole matter is weird from beginning to end. I don’t understand how he could have done what he did in the first place. I don’t understand why this particular case, other than because it involves a “celebrity”, has sucked so much time and energy from the criminal justice system when far more dangerous criminals roan freely among us. I don’t understand why the authorities refused any sort of settlement of the case after all this time. Everything about this case is just weird as hell.

  9. I’ll have to say Roman isn’t a very sympathetic case of flight from prosecution. The law he’s accused of breaking is not unjust and as mespo pointed out, he’s hardly been hiding in the shadows and eating out of trash bins. Romans’ big punishment was . . . making films in Europe and hanging out in the French Riviera? Sorry, even a blind lady can tell the scales are off on that one.

  10. tammy:

    “Not having the ability to work and live in the US, for 31 years, is punishment enough. This man could accomplish a lot more, and he would be worth a lot more. We are dealing with a very talented man here, who went to a better film schools than 90% of American directors and actors.

    Did he give alcohol and drugs to a minor? Yes he did, but he himself was under influence as well… all of them were under influence at that residence. Did he know that she was a minor? What was this minor doing there? Where were her parents? ”

    You must be a plant, but on the offchance you’re not:

    I suspect 31 years living in European palaces and dining with celebrities passes as “punishment” in your world, but those of us with a functioning cerebral cortex know otherwise. Your attacks on the child victim and her family (“Where were her parents?”) are proof enough of your wrongheadedness, but to suggest that Polanski should expect some sort of mitigation of his sentence because of his alcohol/drug abuse calls to mind the case of the young man, who, after murdering his parents, begged the mercy of the court because he claimed he was now an orphan. Comical, if is wasn’t so pathetic.

  11. Not having the ability to work and live in the US, for 31 years, is punishment enough. This man could accomplish a lot more, and he would be worth a lot more. We are dealing with a very talented man here, who went to a better film schools than 90% of American directors and actors.

    Did he give alcohol and drugs to a minor? Yes he did, but he himself was under influence as well… all of them were under influence at that residence. Did he know that she was a minor? What was this minor doing there? Where were her parents?

    I agree that “This is just a feeding frenzy for the lawyers and legal workers.”
    His sentence was supposed to be another 50 or so days in prison, and people want to make a life sentence out of it, just because he fled. He admitted guilt 31 years ago, so why say that his fleeing is a proof, if it’s redundant.
    People in the US get less for killing, and rape, and politicians get nothing for killing people overseas, so why compare him to someone who god 20-to-life in prison.

  12. In this case justice delayed, may still be justice served. I have no problem with a life sentence here, assuming the allegations are true. And I believe flight is still evidence of guilt in most courtrooms.

  13. He took advantage of a thirteen year old girl. He’s lucky we’re still a civilized nation, otherwise I would be the first to buy tickets to see his hanging. There are certain crimes which just should not and cannot be forgotten, and I can’t think of a reason why this crime isn’t in that category. To hell with Polanski.


  14. Time to set him free and let him go.
    His partner at the time has years ago wanted to drop the whole case. He had to live a life of exile most of his life over this. The gov’ts in Europe are demanding he be freed.
    This is just a feeding frenzy for the lawyers and legal workers.
    Nothing good will come about by toturing this person now.
    Set him free.

  15. This is incredible. You think 31 years is a long time. Was this the first time he went to Switzerland? Why all of a sudden is he arrested? If he was living the opulent life so claimed, why didn’t the CIA swoop down and get him? Where is Osama Bin Laden? Where is Jethro? Where is Waldo? Whats the rest of the story?

  16. The man was a coward who flaunted his ability to avoid international justice.

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