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September 28th, 2009
07:05 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Fugitive Filmmaker Arrested, Fighting Back

Roman Polanski attends a film premiere in Paris, France, in June 2009.
Roman Polanski attends a film premiere in Paris, France, in June 2009.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Roman Polanski's fugitive days are over. The Academy Award-winning director is under arrest in Switzerland and vowing to fight extradition to California to face charges in connection with a 1977 sex crime involving a 13-year-old girl.  Swiss police arrested Polanski Saturday when he arrived in Zurich for a film festival, where he was to receive an honorary award.

The 76-year-old had been living in France for decades to avoid U.S. authorities. You may recall, he declined to attend the Academy Awards in 2003, when he won Best Director for "The Pianist." That's because he would have been arrested once he set foot on U.S. soil.

Let's rewind to 1977. That's when Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor. He was 43 at the time. The incident happened during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson's home. Nicholson was not at home.  Polanski fled before he could be sentenced.

There have been several attempts over these past three decades to settle the sex case, but Polanski has always refused to come back to the U.S.

The movie director started a new life in France. He got married and is the father of two children.

Do you think Polasnki should fight extradition or face justice in California?

Prosecutors have argued it would be a miscarriage of justice to allow a man to go free who "drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl."

He also has a lot of supporters who think the case should be dropped, including the victim.

Now 45, married and known as Samantha Geimer, she made her identity public years ago, because she said she was disturbed at how the criminal case was being handled.

She sued Polanski in civil court, which led to an undisclosed settlement. In court documents filed earlier this year, she said, "I am no longer a 13-year-old child... Every time this case is brought to the attention of the court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others. That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of this case."

We'll have all the angles on this story tonight.

Plus, we're digging deeper into the murder of high-school honors student, Derrion Albert, in Chicago. The killing was caught on tape. Dozens of people saw the beating, but no one did anything. Four teenagers have been charged with the murder.

Albert's grandfather, Joseph Walker, told CNN affiliate WLS-TV that his grandson was a good kid who didn't deserve to die.

"He was in bible class this Tuesday night. Church on Sunday," Walker told WLS-TV. "I have no trouble out of my grandson whatsoever. This thing that happened to him is so horrific that we just don't know what we're going to do. We lost a really dear friend in my grandson. He was a blessed child."


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Ratna, New York, NY

    Finally!

    September 29, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  2. Brannon Ferguson

    Why extradite Polanski, if he gets the same punishment as everyone else he might do a few months in jail and then be released on parole! America’s child crime laws and how we care for the victim is what we should be trying to change. His victim’s apology is a classic example of how the treatments of these situations help fuel the guilt that already exist in anyone’s mind after a traumatic situation. The truth is extradition will bring him back to the streets of America.

    September 29, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  3. Christina Gibson

    If her mother is the one who 'handed' her daughter to Polanski, what about her and the welfare and safe guarding her child. No real mother would do that to her child. She probably knew what was going to happen, isn't that how things used to work? The how far will you go and what will you do to get an acting break in the 70s? I think her mother ought to have child neglect charges as well.

    September 29, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  4. Ladesha

    U cant just run from the law and expect everything to dissapear

    September 29, 2009 at 5:11 am |
  5. Ladesha

    Its so sad that he has to go through this ...especially after so much time that has passed but...if he jus like everybody has to eventually face justice. Eventually everything catches up with you.

    September 29, 2009 at 5:10 am |
  6. Constantin

    Polanski's attorney should file a motion with the Los Angeles court to sentence Polanski in absentia. Sentence should be "time served" and perhaps additional probation.
    The arrest warrant is dismissed; the extradition becomes moot and Polanski is released where he is at..
    This also takes care of and avoids potential diplomatic snafus.
    Sounds like a reasonable way to satisfy everyone and put this behind us.
    Perhaps the State Department can help make this happen.

    September 29, 2009 at 2:46 am |
  7. kimberly

    yes, roman polanski should be prosecuted and arrested for breaking the laws of this country and escaping his crimes, but more importantly this young man from Chicago who RECENTLY lost his LIFE to violence and ignorance. His death should be one of many cries for help from our (America's) urban centers. We don't need more cops, or more brutality, we need opportunities and proper values. Kids anywhere can easily fall victim to senseless crimes when there is too much spare time and nothing constructive to do. Kids without proper guidance are easily swayed to drugs and anything remotely dangerous and/or fun. Let's keep perspective and fight real, ON GOING dangers to our selves and children. They still are the future.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:56 am |
  8. Steve

    Sex with a minor is criminal even if it is consensual, and this pervert is accused of drugging and raping a 13 year old child. Even the rich and famous cannot get away this. He should be tried in criminal court.

    I wonder what the French courts would do if he raped one of their own citizens? Thanks again.... France.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:40 am |
  9. Sara

    I find it disturbing that people are acting like we should forget what this man did. If that was me ,they would have thrown the book on me. He should be hold accountable for his action.He obviously didnt loose sleep over it. Stick him in jail and throw the key away.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  10. J Robinson

    I hope he sticks it to the vindictive monstrosity the US judicial system has become. And I smell a rat in all this. Somebody connected to the LA DA's office has something political to gain from pursuing this after all these years.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  11. denise

    Stop burdening the california tax payers on useless judicial waste. Give the guy a break it's been over 3 decades and the case was over then why pick on Roman, hasn't he been through enough as we seen his wife's murderer last week Susan Atkins pass.. Roman has been a target for tragedy since he was born. It's time to worry about real crimes and spend california taxes where they need them the most not on extraditing this man who served his time for his crime and it's time to move on as he did.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:30 am |
  12. Tony Annyschyn

    Mr.Polanski should own up for the crime he committed,regardless how long ago it took place.Anybody who defends the actions of a middle-aged man violating a teenager is full of beans,to put it mildly...and just because he is a well known director of several notable films does not justify giving him special treatment. In fact,for being on the run for some thirty-plus years,the authorities should make an example of him to send a clear message to those in a position of power,that,you misbehave,you will face justice sooner or later.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  13. €rik

    They should listen to the victim, and drop the case, it's stupid after so many years... let him die in peace...

    September 29, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  14. Jeff

    I don't see why he doesn't want to come back. Doesn't he know how we treat celebrities in Los Angeles? He'll get a slap on the wrist, go on the talk show circuit or maybe a Larry King Exclusive Interview, and after a publicist inspired image revamp, he'll be back to entertaining us and having better box office sales than ever before. Hey we'll probably give him another award. He'll be fine... look at Chris Brown or... Woody Allen

    September 29, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  15. Janelle

    His "supporters" make me sick. I read an article where one person actually said Polanski has already atoned for the "sins of his youth". Excuse me, he was a 43 year old man who plied a 13 year old girl with alcohol and drugs, then raped her. He hasn't begun to "atone" for "the sins he committed agaist a youth". And for Debra Winger, if a 43 year old man did this to her 13 year old daughter, would she be calling it a "legal technicality". And for those who say he already "did his time", he fled the country before he was sentenced. What time did he already do? He underwent a 42 day psychiatric evaluation. How is that "serving" time for the crime he admitted to doing? He's been living it up in Europe and thumbing his nose at the laws of the United States for 31 years. Haul his sorry butt back here and throw it in jail for the rest of his life!

    September 29, 2009 at 1:16 am |
  16. Anna Taylor

    You know, a crime is a crime. An act of sexual violence gets taken up by the Law. What the victim wants counts to a certain point. In the point of a victim pleading for the dismissal of charges for her/his sexual perpetrator, that's beyond sick and it's immoral.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:16 am |
  17. Grace

    He raped a child, admitted to having sex with that child, and then skipped bail. He's a fugitive, fleeing a sentence for child rape.

    None of the rest really matters.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  18. art

    Poor Derrion Albert. It's time to address Black Anger and persecution mania...! Say No to sex, drugs and violence and start studying people. It's actually fun when you work, and boring when you don't...Jeez!
    Roman Polanski must do time. A 13-yr old is a 13 yr old.

    September 29, 2009 at 1:01 am |
  19. Asher Yosef

    Calm down people. Polanski did not plead guilty to any rape and drugging charge. The only thing he did plead guilty for was having sex with a minor. as for the judge, he and the prosecutor were coaching each other and baldly lied about a rape occurring. Since when is this normal justice? Bearing false witness and calumny are crimes tat can and should lead to jail terms.

    I hope Mr. Polanski serves time for sex with a minor. I also hope the prosecutor and judge serve time in jail for false accusations and for conspiracy. I don't hope they are disbarred – no, that would be too little punishment. Serving hard time behind the bars is what these lawbreakers deserve.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:59 am |
  20. Lee Cargile

    Here we go again. If you are rich or powerful you can drug and rape who ever you want. And to protect you, you get people like Debra Winger supporting the drugging and the rape of a young girl because the man is an artist. I wonder if that had happened to her daughter if she would feel the same. Of course if it led to a lead in a film then maybe it would be worth it to her and the others of her ilk. And we wonder why this country is the way it is today.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:43 am |
  21. Rocco

    In response to Maggie

    Everyone has the facts!!!!!!!!!!!! He was 43 she was 13 its people like you that run screaming to everyone who will listen when its your kid..............

    Get a grip 45 days for raping a child of 13 you need help...........

    THIS DIRT BAG NEEDS TO BE IN JAIL FOR 20 YEARS........................

    September 29, 2009 at 12:39 am |
  22. LA Resident

    There are far better ways for the Los Angeles taxpayer money to be spent at this time. Steve Cooley is just trying to get the publicity and somebody in the DA's office getting a lovely vacation to Switerland on my dime. This will be a long and protracted battle that, in the end, will likely not result in Polanski being returned to Los Angeles. And should he end up back here the case will more than likely be thrown out of court due to judge and prosecution misconduct on the first trial.

    I for one would rather all this money be spent in this budget crisis on getting one more murdering gang member (like the one that just killed a 4 month old baby over the weekend) off the fair streets of LA than putting a 70+ year old man in jail.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  23. Allen

    I find it hard to believe that there is sympathy in Switzerland and in France in high government for this man. He must extradited and face the US judicial system for the crime he committed and pleaded guilty of.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:31 am |
  24. Josh

    If the victim is an adult, noted as 45 in the article, does not want the case to proceede then it should be dropped. The whole point is to bring justice to some one who has wronged the victim, so it should be the victim's call assuming they are an adult.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:30 am |
  25. William Spendlove

    Cindy rambles.. on another note, I think Polanski should be left alone, hell even the girl he shouldn't have had sex with agreed the matter should be dropped.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:25 am |
  26. Paul

    The victim would rather not have to go though this since she received an undisclosed settlement from Polanski. He and all other pedophiles need to be brought to trial. The person that said that in France the consent age is lower than the USA has it all wrong. The consent age has never been 13 in France and the girl never consented! Polanski is a Pedophile and should never have been given an award for Directing the Pianist. Another example of Hollywood morals are bent for the sake of being able to show films in Europe and worldwide. Polanski needs some morals and so does the Hollywood Director's Guild that supported him.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:24 am |
  27. Robert

    He is a CHILD RAPIST. What don't people get about that? Seems some people are saying it is alright to do this if you are rich and famous. I wonder how they would feel if it had been their daughter this pervert raped? They should put him in prison for drugging the girl, raping the girl and skipping the country.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  28. Darla, Toronto

    This is a strange case. Why extradition now?
    I agree that it may not be the only underage girl he might have been with but we have no evidence of that. Have there been any others who have made complaints – I have not heard this?
    Essentially he should be brought back for sentencing – if this was my 13 year old daughter I would ask no less. I certainly would not let her go alone to an interview for a TV part or photo shoot. Did her Mother know about this? Having no chaperone is highly irregular. Polanski if he was a gentleman would have/should have asked for a chaperone don't you think?
    What is the impact on the victim of having this all replayed now – even though she has "forgiven" him? Some consultation should be made to minimize the impact on her. These assaults get replayed in slow motion after one is assaulted – why bring it all back 30 years later?
    There should likely be jail time but 20 or 50 years seems quite severe especially after years of inaction. The 45 days seems laughable to me if Polanski is guilty and not just copping a plea.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:20 am |
  29. Louise

    It's now time to pay and go to Jail. The fact that he is widely respected in his profession makes no difference. He committed a heinous act against a young girl and that comes and he should be punished.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  30. Liberty Queen

    Lock him up!

    September 29, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  31. Cindy

    I am very surprised anyone would support this man. No matter his position or wealth. This is an unspeakable crime and he did admitt to the crime. I can't believe he was only sentenced to 45 days. Lets think about this-he drugged,raped,sodomized,performed oral sex on her (13 year old) and only God knows what all and was only to serve days for it! I don't think the parents of this child should have permitted her to be at any photo shoot let alone with this crazed man and topless. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!! I feel that both the parents and this pervert should have to answer for this crime. He has enjoyed his freedom for far too long. Put him away and every other child molester possible. Ricch or poor. Famous or not.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  32. Ben

    If he is not extradited, or does not get any punishment for his crimes, then I lose all faith in the legal system. Why should famous people not be held accountable for crimes? And why are people defending him? He raped a 13 year old girl. I'm sure if it was their daughter they'd be singing a different tune.

    tl;dr – Extradite him, and punish him in the US, or punish him in Sweden.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  33. Wayne H

    He has already pled guilty. How would his extradition and sentencing put the victim though anything? They bring him back, the judge sentences him to the plea deal they made 3 decades ago, add time for leaving the country and then he is sent to live with the other child molesters. Done.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  34. Miguel

    We should keep in mind that the victim herself, the only person violated in this situation, feels that Polanski has paid the price and the case should be dropped. Also, shouldn't we hold the family accountable? Who allows a 13 year old girl to be photographed for what is obviously a glamor magazine? There is more to one side to this story and if it was such a priority for the enforcers of justice in this situation...why now? The parties involved in this case dealt and made peace with this dilemma long ago, why didn't the law?....its over and done with....there are more important cases to be dealt with, i say it should be dropped.

    September 29, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  35. Patrick

    The man has suffered enough.. LEAVE HIM ALONE

    September 29, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  36. jon

    I hope to god he is not extradited. If he is sent back to California, I will have lost all belief in the US criminal justice system.

    People need to get over it, watch the Pianist or Chinatown and think twice on the slander they are speaking on good polanski's name.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:59 pm |
  37. susan

    If this man did not think what he was doing was wrong(because of lower age of consent in France) Why did he drug her? 43years old vs 13yrs ? 13 is young enough to still think Barbie is cool. Maybe this is a problem/ as we sexualize things so materialisticaly and comercialy, that even children become comodities. I woul say he is a whore, but would not want to insult the ladies of the night who are also the prey of these unenlightened, ignorant, classless animals.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
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