After dodging the law for 31 years, legendary director Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday. His arrest stems from a 1977 charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Polanski pled guilty to a single charge in the case back in 1977, but ended up fleeing the United States before he could be sentenced. The warrant, served by Swiss authorities as Polanski entered the country, was issued by LA County officials back in 1978. More after the jump.
According to The LA Times, Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested en route to the Zurich Film Festival where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award. The arrest was made at the request of US officials who have never given up their pursuit of Polanski after arresting him in 1977 on multiple counts stemming from a sexual encounter at Jack Nicholson’s home with a then 13 year-old model named Samantha Geimer. There have been repeated attempts to settle the case over the years, but with Polanski unwilling to leave his exile in France to re-enter the US for hearings, the warrant remained active.
After suing Polanski and receiving an undisclosed settlement, Geimer publicly forgave the director and has repeatedly called for the charges against him to be dropped. “I am no longer a 13-year-old child… that attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety,” Geimer said in court papers filed in January.
Despite noting that some of the behavior exhibited by the original judge in the case “was misconduct”, LA judge Peter Espinoza declined to dismiss the charges against Polanski last February – paving the way for Saturday’s arrest.
Polanski served 48 days in maximum security detention and underwent psychological testing after his 1977 plea. It was only after the judge revealed that he was aiming for additional prison time that Polanski fled to Europe. Over the years Polanski’s legal team has charged the LA prosecutors with every manner of corruption, cited as the reason that Polanski fears facing the charges. Details of the case and the subsequent legal wrangling are eloquently laid out in the 2007 documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”.
Polanski now faces possible extradition to the US as he sits in provisional detention in Zurich. And although the Swiss cooperated in serving the warrant, I wouldn’t bet that they’re willing to extradite him to Los Angeles. A Swiss ministry spokesman said in a statement that “it is possible to appeal at the federal penal court of justice against an arrest warrant in view to extradition as well as against an extradition decision.”
Polanski will be released soon from his “provisional” detention while the wheels of Swiss justice turn, so anyone who was looking for a quick and dramatic ending to this 31 year old story is probably out of luck. And the band played on…