Monday, September 28, 2009
Should Roman Polanski Do The Time For His 1977 Crime?
Roman Polanski apparently had sex with a 13 year old girl back in the 70's. Despite a conviction, he never served time in jail. Some say now he should pay the consequences of his actions with jail time. Yet, some think he should be treated otherwise. Clearly, Roman Polanski has friends in high places. For instance, France and Poland are pressuring Switzerland to free the 76-year-old director despite an international warrant issued for having sex with a 13 year old back in 1977. Pressure is even being put on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton free Polanski. Currently, Polanski remains detained by Swiss police on an international warrant.
So after all of these years, how did Polanski get caught? Polanski had appeared to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival. Many countries had looked the other way when he visited. This time, officials were waiting for him. Now the U.S. is seeking Polanski's extradition. Something about fleeing on bail after a conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old is just not easy to forgive in the U.S. Polansky fled post conviction to France where he has enjoyed protection. What makes him so special? Polanski directed "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby." Why should he be jailed? Despite being a fine director, he has apparently misdirected his own life.
Why might he never serve any jail time? French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner wants Polanski freed by the Swiss. Both Kouchner and Radek Sikorski (Poland) apparently wrote to Hillary Clinton requesting leniency. The U.S. has 60 days to submit a formal request for Polanski's transfer. Any U.S. request for transfer must first be examined by the Swiss Justice Ministry. An affirmative response by the Swiss is still subject to appeal.
The U.S. warrant on Polanski was issued in 1978. However, according to the Swiss, the U.S. has only actively pursued his arrest since 2005. Polanski previously requested a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn the trial courts conviction on the basis of misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it. Samantha Geimer, the victim, has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal. (She reached a monetary settlement with Polanski.) Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza dismissed Polanski's request to overturn the conviction because the director failed to appear in court. While there may be some problems with the original conviction, flight is not the proper remedy.
Polanski is married to French actress Emanuelle Seigner. He has avoided countries likely to extradite him. Perhaps a trip to the U.S. is now unavoidable and there will be legal resolution one way or the other.