In 1977, director Roman Polanski was at Jack Nicholson’s house in Hollywood during a photo shoot. He met a young model named Samantha Geimer, who was only 13 at the time, gave her champagne and half a Quaalude and then allegedly raped her. Polanski was arrested and plead guilty to having sex with a minor, and served 42 days in state prison for what a judge termed “pre-sentencing diagnostic testing.” When he was released, he fled to France to avoid facing charges and potential further sentencing. He’s lived in France for the past 32 years, where he is a citizen and cannot be extradited, and has continued to direct films—including “The Pianist” which won him an Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture. Polanski has never returned to the U.S., and has mostly avoided traveling to countries where he could be arrested. But on Saturday, as he arrived in Switzerland to speak at the Zurich Film Festival, he was picked up by Swiss officials bearing a U.S. arrest warrant.
Lots of folks are up in arms over Polanski’s arrest. France and Poland are both demanding that he be released—France’s foreign minister is currently discussing this with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Many folks in the film industry are speaking out against the arrest too. They say that this is a crime that happened 32 years ago, that Polanski is now in his 70s, that he has already served time, that he’s settled out-of-court with the victim, and that he’s gone on to a very distinguished career. But on the other hand, he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. [LA Times]
Here’s where it gets even more complicated. Geimer, the victim here, has publicly stated that she does not want Polanski prosecuted for the crime. She filed a formal request for charges to be dropped back in 1997, and appeared in an HBO documentary about Polanski last year saying the same. “I have survived, indeed prevailed, against whatever harm Mr. Polanski may have caused me as a child. I got over it a long time ago,” she said. “What happened that night, it’s hard to believe, but it paled in comparison to what happened to me in the next year of my life. He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life.” [NY Daily News]
What do you think? Should Polanski stand trial? Or should he be considered a man who did a disgusting thing years ago but has already paid for it?