This story has you debating any number of issues. In no particular order, these seem to be the main ones:
– Are there extenuating circumstances where having sex with a 13 year-old can be excused? Or at least where it doesn’t warrant a custodial sentence?
– If he pleaded guilty shouldn’t he be punished for the crime he has admitted? Or has the time spent with this hanging over him been punishment enough?
– If a victim requests that all charges are dropped, should that be a consideration?
– Is there a period of time after which the pursuit of an alleged criminal should be dropped by a justice system? (Similar debates were played out in the UK over the ‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnis Biggs.)
– Have Roman Polanski’s achievements as a film director got anything to do with it? (The Swiss Directors Association criticised the arrest, describing it as “not only a grotesque farce of justice, but also an immense cultural scandal”.)
– The French culture minister Frederic Mitterand says “a scary America” has just “shown its face”. Do you find the pursuit of Roman Polanski ‘scary’? Or is it simply justified?
– Have the Swiss authorities shown poor or at least inconsistent judgement, as, according to his agent, Roman Polanski has come to Switzerland many times over the past 15 years?
(Justice spokesman Guido Balmer said the difference with this particular trip was that authorities knew exactly when and where Mr Polanski would arrive.)
– Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said that because of agreements with the US, “when Mr Polanski arrived we had no choice from a legal point of view but to arrest him”. Shouldn’t these kind of extradition treaties be observed?
And some important facts about the Polanski case:
– In 1978 he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13 year old as part of a plea bargain that saw rape charges dropped.
– He always maintained the sex was consensual though that was disputed by the girl (now of course a woman in her 40s).
– He was accused of using drugs and alcohol to make her compliant. He has always denied this.
– He jumped bail between pleading guilty and sentencing.
– Samantha Geimer was the girl in question. She has already sued Mr Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.
KRUPA’S POST FROM EARLIER:
Filmmaker Roman Polanski is back in the docks three decades after he had sex with a 13 year old girl. What do you make of his arrest? Should we judge the movie and not the man? That’s what his victim asked us to do back in 2003. Here’s her account.
His victim has openly said she wants the case to be closed. Should justice still be sought if the victim does not want it? Should we recognise his achievements and accept that he made a mistake?
Give him a break says Applebaum in the Washington Post.
‘He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film. He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment.’
Do you have any sympathy for Roman Polanski?