Renowned film director Roman Polanski says he intends to fight efforts to extradite him to the United States on charges that he had sex with a minor in 1977. The 76-year-old filmmaker was apprehended in Switzerland last Saturday where he had arrived to accept a lifetime achievement award that the Zurich Film Festival was going to bestow upon him.
Polanski has been living in exile from the US since he left the country rather than be sentenced for pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor. Samantha Geimer, then 13, had accused the director of giving her champagne and a portion of a Quaalude pill before raping her. Although initially indicted on six felony counts, the other charges (which could have resulted in a lifetime prison sentence) were dropped after he entered his guilty plea.
Polanski served 42 days in prison and underwent an evaluation. Despite agreeing on a sentence, allegations have been made that the judge tried to go back on the plea agreement. Polanski then fled the country.
Geimer, now 45, has publicly forgiven Polanski. Earlier this year, Geimer submitted a a formal request to prosecutors that they drop the charges against the filmmaker. She and her family don’t want to keep reliving the assault every time the media reports on the incident.
While France does not extradite its citizens, Switzerland does not provide such protections from international warrants. This was not, however, Polanski’s first visit to Switzerland. He owns a ski residence in Gstaad. California authorities reportedly have been engineering the filmmaker’s arrest ever since discovering he was going to the festival.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is asking that Polanski be granted bail. Swiss authorities say that as long as Polanski agrees to stay in the country, he could be released on bail. France and Poland are in an uproar over Polanski’s arrest.
Roman Polanski’s victim Samantha Geimer, now 45, ‘got over it long ago,’ New York Daily News, September 28, 2009
Polanski’s Attorney Says He Will Fight Extradition to U.S., Washington Post, September 28, 2009