Thirty-two years ago, acclaimed director, Roman Polanski (43 at the time), was convicted of unlawful sex with a minor girl (13 at the time). The conviction resulted from a plea bargain by the director. The original charges included rape and sodomy of the girl.
Before he could be sentenced, however, Polanski fled U.S. jurisdiction to Europe where he has remained ever since. In September 2009, Polanski was apprehended on an outstanding warrant as he attempted to enter into Switzerland to, ironically, accept a lifetime achievement award for his directing. Now, the director is becoming as well known for his past legal – and current – legal problems as he is for his films.
Recently, Polanski requested that he be charged without the need to appear in U.S. courts and formally answer. On Friday, January 22, 2010, Los Angeles Judge Peter Espinoza rejected Polanski’s request, adding to additional setbacks for Polanski’s legal team. Polanski had also requested – unsuccessfully – that the rape charges be heard outside the U.S. Polanski is under house arrest in Switzerland.
In an interesting twist, however, the victim of the sexual assault – Samantha Geimer – joined with Polanski’s lawyers in court asking the judge not to require the director’s return. According to Geimer’s lawyer, she wants the case to be over.
Admittedly, this is not a case about civil rights; it’s a matter of criminal law. However, it is a case generating significant public debate. Do you think that Polanski should be forced to return to the U.S. and be sentenced? Does it matter what his contributions to film-making have been? Does it matter that the victim apparently did not want the Los Angeles judge to order Polanski’s return?