21:36  |  10 December 11
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Roman Polanski, extradition of

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/sep/28/roman-polanski

In Zurich, arriving there for the film festival and about to be given a tribute, Roman Polanski has been taken into custody by authorities remembering a 31-year-old arrest warrant. They were alerted by US authorities who have never given up on the case. Extradition is in the air, though it could take a few months. Is Polanski returning to the US? If he is, one of the those judges is going to have an awkward time.

Even in Los Angeles, however, the general public reading the news probably needed to be reminded what this was all about. The history of the movies, even its scandals, has receded a long way – it's all "Chinatown" now, and the newspaper editors wonder whether they can let that remark go or does it need to be explained?

The explanation comes quickly. It needs no more than a single paragraph. On 11 March 1977, Polanski was arrested in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire hotel by Detective Philip Vannatter (a cop who would figure in the OJ Simpson case). The Polish film director was charged as follows: giving Quaaludes to a minor; child molestation; unlawful sexual intercourse with that minor; rape by use of drugs; oral copulation; sodomy. The girl was 13, though Polanski would say that she looked older.

The rape had occurred in the house of Jack Nicholson, a place Polanski used as he wished. In the legal negotiations that followed, Polanski never denied the charges, but they were dismissed under the terms of the plea bargain by which he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor. With a view to proper sentencing, the judge – Laurence Rittenband – ordered that Polanski be confined for psychiatric examination. That led to 42 days' confinement in the Chino State Prison over the 1977-8 period. In that examination Polanski was passed as fit to stand trial. It was the director's understanding that the 42 days in Chino would satisfy punitive instincts. There might be a fine, too, but he would be freed. Then, just before sentencing, Polanski heard that Rittenband was ready to break the agreement – because he feared public criticism of a verdict that seemed too lenient on Polanski. And so, fearing further imprisonment, Polanski broke bail and flew by British Airways to London in February 1978. He has never been back in the US.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/polanskib1.html has the transcript of his 13 year old victim's evidence against him.
Vote: Should Roman Polanski be prosecuted for a charge that the victim wants the US authorities to drop?

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Members Comments

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estivboy 21-Oct-2009 12:20
Andromeda says "If his 40 something year old victim forgives him, it is nobody's business to demand vengeance."
Well no it's actually statutory rape so that becomes a legal issue separate from the victim’s views on the matter. Does she forgive him is not the question. Some people find religion and forgive their Childs killer. Oh that’s ok we'll let them go then.

A gem from Herb "The whole business is distasteful, but I'm not persuaded that prosecuting Polanski is now the right and moral thing to do." Why because some time has passed? Could Herb please expand on this interesting moral conundrum? Statutory rape; immoral. Prosecuting Roman because he's managed to evade arrest for such a long time, immoral.

But hang on it's not the Judge just doing their job says Andromeda, it's "Ambitious and corrupt officials with an axe to grind" These "morals" don't seem to be consistent.

Roman has been on the run so the original stance or legal ruling still stands. Catholic priests who molest should be held to account and Roman should spend the rest of his days looking over his shoulder. Try inserting Bin Man Dave into the argument instead of Roman. Would poor hardworking Dave who’s done nothing wrong since get your sympathy?

Roman is not above the law because you like his movies, has an Oscar or that he is well known.

And finally to counter Herb's suggestion that it may all be a fit-up by politically ambitious prosecutors when he says “There is a smell about this affair of something not quite right - something like a vendetta of some sort.”

No it’s not a conspiracy it’s because Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old girl 31 years ago. In her backside!
Herb 6-Oct-2009 6:46
Jeffrey - It may be argued that Polanski has been cowardly, but it hardly merits prosecution; and if Polanski has been cowardly, then so was P.G. Woodhouse who was advised by his lawyers not to return to Britain. He wisely never did return. When dealing with over-zealous prosecutors, discretion is the better part of valour.

The whole business is distasteful, but I'm not persuaded that prosecuting Polanski is now the right and moral thing to do.
jeffreymarshall 2-Oct-2009 14:14
Herb - the proof that Polanski committed this crime was that he confessed to it.

He did so as part of a plea bargain in which the 42 days (42 days again!) he had already served was to constitute the entire sentence.

Next, he suspected the judge was going to renege on the deal, so he fled the country whilst on bail.

He claimed sanctuary in France where he was born and where politicians appear to believe that artists should not be subject to the same laws as ordinary people.

Moreover, at that time the French were still feeling guilty at the time about their role in deporting Jews from Vichy France during the war.

Polanski's parents were sent to concentration camps where his mother died & his father was never seen again.

It has been pointed out that the charge made against Polanski was corrupt in any case, and I would agree.

However, since he has so far been too cowardly to return to America to face the charge, he has not managed to establish this; perhaps now he will be able to do so.

As for being unpopular, his films are very popular indeed - The Pianist gained an Oscar in 2002 - although he could not collect it himself.

Roman also escaped from the Nazis as a young boy, lost both his parents in concentration camps and he lost his wife - Sharon Tate - to the serial killer, Charles Manson.

If all these factors seem a distant memory today, then he ought to have had the guts to defend himself properly at the time - instead of running away.
Andromeda 1-Oct-2009 8:32
I can see a movie in the making.

Ambitious and corrupt officials with an axe to grind symptomatic of corrupt Western governments declining and falling, abandoning all principles of justice.

Vengeful and gullible public is easily manipulated.

Will Polanski get off or not?
Herb 1-Oct-2009 4:27
If Samantha Geimer is unwilling to prosecute, she is presumably unwilling to testify against Polanski.

If she does not testify against him, then there is no proof that Polanski committed this alleged crime - so how can he be convicted?

There is a smell about this affair of something not quite right - something like a vendetta of some sort.

It is a serious defect of the Justice system that politically ambitious prosecutors - and even Judges - are sometimes so unscrupulous that they are quite willing to conduct a vendetta against an unpopular celebrity simply because they think it will advance their own ambitions.
Derek 30-Sep-2009 10:10
The victim's feelings carry a lot of weight, but not enough to wash away a revolting, vicious crime.
jeffreymarshall 30-Sep-2009 1:31
Unsurprisingly, the victim, Samantha Geimer, 45, has moved on with her life and no longer wishes to prosecute.

However Polanski’s earlier guilty plea means that Geimer’s cooperation in securing a conviction appears to be unnecessary.

The Guardian report suggests that in 1977 the judge wished to serve a longer sentence on Polanski for political reasons.

Surely, though, it is unusual for 42 days to be considered an adequate sentence for the anal rape of a minor.

Polanski’s recent film about the Holocaust – The Pianist – is justly acclaimed.

No doubt it is a splendid piece of artistry – justifiably adding to the widespread condemnation of the Nazis’ wartime treatment of the Jews.

As a result of this – completely justified – public anger no one much minds when frail and elderly ex-Nazis are hunted down, a great many years after the war has finished.

However, there may be an unsympathetic few who consider there is rather a pleasing symmetry in the fact that a well-known embellisher of the Holocaust tale is at last being extradited – in his turn – to another country to face justice.
JusticeSeeker 29-Sep-2009 20:51
Whether the victim forgives hm is up to her. But justice is decided by society in the form of a judicial system. If he is not extradited and prosecuted the clear message to criminals is that if you can get away with it long enough, you will not be punished.
GWilliy 29-Sep-2009 1:0
If a 44 year old man Drugs & Sodomizes a 13 year old Girl he should be prosecuted.
End Of!
It is Perverse to think otherwise.
Heidelberg 28-Sep-2009 14:37
Polanski is a hebephile like Glitter and there is no difference between them.
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