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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. Mark

    I am shocked with the previous comments that I read. Almost all of them are based on a simple "he is guilty and should serve time" assumption and pretty uninformed. The story is much more complex. He is certainly guilty of "something" – and one cannot probably say today whether it was drugging a 13-year old girl who looked 25 (as one witness put) or a consensual sex with her. He is clearly guilty of that. But as guilty as he is is the ridiculous judicial system and the judge who was seeking publicity. This is not by accident that the PROSECUTOR acknowledged that Polanski was mistreated by the judge. A foreigner, short, with a thick accent... A perfect material for "making a case" of him. To wrap it up, I believe that the law should be the same for the rich and famous as for the rest of us: neither more lenient or resembling witch-hunting.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  2. Kim

    I agree with Taylor..."It is utterly amazing that one of his supporters thinks he shouldn’t go to jail for “one little mistake”.

    I could not fathom this comment. The victim settled out of court but that does not mean laws were not broken and there is not statute of limitations on that. I also cannot believe that various world leaders are lobbying for this man's freedom. He is depraved and just because he is "artistic" and "talented" does not excuse his poor judgement. I also read that he has suffered because he cannot make films in Hollywood. Huh? He is still rich as all get out and staying at a private villa in Switzerland. Poor baby. His supporters are disgusting.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  3. Al

    The victim has forgiven her aggressor and moved on. Why can't the rest of us? It appears that Polanski has learned his lesson; he has not repeated his crime, and he has lived his life with his movement severely restricted. He has paid a dire price for a heinous crime. What more do we want? Is jail time the only proper and adequate punishment? C'mon; let's move on. Let's get beyond the one track mind.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Myles

    Listen to the victim

    September 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  5. Paulo Leonardo Carvalho - from Belo Horizonte, Brazil

    Although I'm a big fan of mr. Polanski's work (as a director and an actor) and I'm sorry for him that his wife Sharon Tate was brutally murdered almost 40 years ago, I believe he must face Justice as anyone else. And the quicker the better, as the victim and her family cannot bear being publicly exposed and victimized for the last 32 years anymore...

    September 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  6. rich

    Polanski, really? I bet the over 20 kids that have been killed in the POTUS home state of ILL, or their friends and famiies, dont even care about a 78 year old man who has been on the run since the 1970.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  7. Kenny Abolarin

    He should be jailed for what he has done. He also ran away from justice for doing so he should be sentence to life in prisonment.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  8. Taksa

    Drop the charges! Polanski certainly doesn't deserve any of this. This makes the US justice system look like such a joke. Check out the facts, people, before making your judgements. I doubt that Switzerland would extradite him, but really now don't we have important stuff to worry about?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  9. Carol Anderson

    If Roman Polanski sold tickets for movies instead of directing them, would we be having this discussion?
    I think not!!

    Same crime, same time, no matter who your friends are!!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  10. ram

    my question about polanski's victim what was she doing @ the age
    of 13 for photo shoot all by herself with polanski at some residence?!!!

    polanski should b punished for wat he had done ......

    September 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  11. Colin

    He molested a child. Fled the country to avoid prosecution because he knew what he did was wrong. He should be treated as such. I don't see any gray area here!!!!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  12. nena

    He pled guilty then ran of to france and lived his life like nothing happen he got justice to what happened to sharon tate and his unborn child how would he had felt if the manson's would have gone free... His fame and money shouldn't get him a get out of jail free card....

    September 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  13. Ruth

    Last I heard, laws are the same for all, or did someone write in a special law for Directors? Oh, that was probably a silly question, when you see the special treatment for crooks in Congress!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  14. AJ

    Is everyone forgetting....Polanski, a 44 year old man, CONFESSED to the RAPE (oral, vaginal and sodomy) of a 13 year old child, after coaxing and intimidating her in to getting drunk (on Champagne) and giving her drugs (half a tablet of Qualude). These are not allegations, he has confessed to them. He then was not man enough to face punishment but fled like a common criminal. A 40 yr old Paedophile who intoxicates and sodomizes a 13 yr old child....everyone rising to his defense should have their heads examined.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Mav

    No need to put him on trial. He's already pled guilty. He just fled the country before sentencing. And this wasn't consensual sex with a 13-year-old girl that got him in trouble. i.e. it was forcible rape.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  16. Manuel Fernandez

    Mr. Polanski broke the law. He act like a man and face the consequences of his actions.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  17. Kev

    Its not fair that a person who is has sex with a an underage women has to go through the whole legal system, serve his/her time in jail, attend sexual offenders classes (of which they must attend every week at a $100 per class) and be registered nationally as a sex offenders, cant obtain proper employment due to background checks, cant attend big universities due to the fact that the campus is notified of his or her background, and for the past 20+ years this guy has gotten off with out much of a fuss. and people still support him, If that is the case every sex offender should have the same support and chance that this guy has had.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  18. david

    Polanski is no different of a human being than any of us and he should pay his guilt to society. I could care less what he did with film and directing and it was not a necessity in life.
    He misused his directing and photographer title to rape a 13 year after drugging her. He drugged her because he is a coward, he raped her because he is a coward and he left this country never to come back because he knew he was guilty and that made him a coward and he is a coward today. I understand he forced anal sex also on her.
    No one should let this man off the hook. He needs to serve the penalty for the crime he committed, he was a fugitive people.
    It will be a very very sad day in justice if this man, like any other man is let go. Justice should be blind to all occupations and judge by facts alone.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  19. Jean-Marie

    This is one of the most ridiculous cases and taxpayer money waste in this country ever.
    As our foreign minister said: "There are times when we love America but there are times like this when America is really scary and out of line"
    A French citizen

    September 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  20. ghislaine zilkha

    i think mr polansky already paid the price. leave him alone.
    shame on switzerland , they financially raped a lot of people of every age. i will not throw the first stone if i was them

    September 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  21. Jen

    He drugged and raped a 13 year old girl, what is the time limit on "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime", and the victims concerns are not really valid, he committed a criminal act, it is with the state he will have his day in court, finally. Though I do understand her wish it would just go away. If he had faced up to it all in the first place this would be a non-issue. There are legal ways to go about rectifying one legal issues that don’t involve running from the law for three decades.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  22. Sandra Levin

    I have mixed feelings – it's been decades since the crime and apparently the victim has gotten over it. He's an elderly man, who was probably suffering from PTSD following the death of his wife and unborn child. If this was something that just happened, he should be prosecuted, but it seems a moot point now. I think they shouldn't waste time and money on a trial.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  23. Oner Bicakci

    It's incredible that France has been giving a confessed child molester safe haven for all these years. How is that possible and why has the European Union allowed them to do so?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  24. ArrKay

    Disclaimer: I'm a French citizen, raised there, educated there.

    I'll go to bat just about any day to defend most French ideals. Most days, I'm fairly proud to be French, regardless of the questionable decisions the government and unions make. I have little respect for the trolls that bash things just because they're French without having the slightest clue.

    On this, though, I'm thoroughly ashamed of being French. I'm ashamed of being European, as a matter of fact. I don't know if Polanski should be in jail. What I care is that people in Europe somehow believe he's worthy of special treatment, that he's been through "enough." Nonsense, all of that. The fact that politicians support someone accused of raping a teenager is appalling. Worse is the fact that, if he were anybody else, a regular John Doe, the governments in Europe would be praising the Swiss for arresting him and would be looking forward to justice being served.

    Even if Polanski is proven innocent in the long run, even if he is, in fact, innocent, the support pouring out for him is disgusting. It's biased, it's elitist, and it's ridiculous. I don't condone the vindictive attitudes some people have towards him, but I can't, not even for a second, support anyone who feels he's been the victim of an injustice.

    How ludicrous.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  25. Kelly Klackson

    Disgusting animal.
    If he isn't punished then what does that say about fairness in our society.

    He is a disgusting individual.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  26. Eduardo M Torres

    It's about time this guy was arrested and he should be extradited immediately. As for the victim??? Her opinion at this time does not matter as he pleaded guilty and then fled the country. He must be held accountably for all of his crimes just as every else would.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  27. maggie

    Everyone needs to review the documentary to see what happened and why Roman Polanski lost all faith in the US justice system. He was not treated fairly. A judge has the right to refuse to accept the plea bargain. In this case, the judge urged the parties to settle but chose to refuse it because he worried about the press in the case and didn't want to hurt his reputation (this was after the judge sent him into prison for 45 days for a psychiatric assessment on the understanding that Mr. Polanski would not do more time than that). I agree that what he did was terrible (although in France, where he was born, the age of consent is very low so he may not have thought it as bad as we do). I don't think he knew her real age and the fact that her mother basically gave her to him (apparently because she hoped for an acting break) makes me feel that her mother is more culpable than Roman. I hope he succeeds in overturning the extradition order.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  28. Rich

    I hope that everyone pays attention to the celebrities and hollywood crowd that have rallied around this man and boycott every tv show, movie or other production they are involved with. talk with your money and let them know not only do we find what he did reprehensible, we find their support of him reprehensible. first on the list is debra winger with her little speech in switzerland yesterday.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  29. Michelle

    Roman Polanski should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I don't care how many years it has been or how old he is now. His life's accomplishments should certainly not overshadow the fact that he is a pedophile and exploited a 13 year old girl. She may say she has forgiven him and I hope she has. But you can't tell me that her life was not forever changed the day this monster took advantage of her. And, who knows how many others out there are afraid to come forward because predators like this get off Scott free?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  30. Emma

    I don't really care what happens to him, but why would Steve Cooley (the LA DA) want to drag the victim (and her family) through this all over again.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  31. RBHayes

    He comitted the crime, regardless of the elspsation factor, he needs to face the judicial system and perhaps even do the time !

    September 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  32. Lionel Jimenez

    Mr. Polanski has had it way too easy over the past three decades as a U.S. fugitive, it would have been a whole lot more devastating to any other individual. The reactions of his accuser now are expected to be totally different as she was a kid before and because of this, I personally believe that Mr. Polanski should be successfully extradited back to the U.S. to face up to his charges.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  33. Paige

    I don't care how good your movies are, creative ability doesn't place you above the law. What is so troubling to me is that everyone seems to say "poor Roman, he's such a good director" why is that an excuse to evade due process. If he didn't do it, he shouldn't have pled that he did.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  34. Bobby Anwar

    I am father of a 13-year old daughter. I will tear a man apart with my bear hands for a crime that this dispicable man committed. He should be put away for life.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  35. Kristin Peterson

    So, if you are a 'gifted director' it is okay to rape and sodomize a child?
    That is the message that the defenders of the rapist are sending.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  36. Gary

    I don't believe for one minute that this was the only girl that this pervert raped. She was only 13 years old and he was 43! He drugged her and raped her and he should be brought to the US and put in jail for the rest of his life. Anyone who doesn't understand this is pathetic.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  37. Erik

    I am a bit shocked that the victim thinks the charges should be
    dropped.
    ======================
    I don't think that's very surprising. She and her family have been victimized all over again each time over the last 30 years that this issue has hit the press, and had all the salacious details gone into. She's wanted it over for a long time. Dismissing the case was one way to make it be over. Now that he's captured, actually putting him on trial would be another way.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  38. jay

    Mr. Polanski has shown to be a coward, who knew he was guilty. Not to be rude, but how many Mothers would leave a 13 year-old with a man alone, for a "photo" shoot?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  39. gsonc

    If you do the crime, you gotta do the time.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  40. Lisa

    Mr. Polanski drugged & raped a child; and needs to atone for his crimes no matter how many years have lapsed.

    The plaintiff is the State of California and I don't believe Ms. Geimer has the authority to speak in behalf of the state.

    Since charges were previously levied, there would be no testimony by Ms. Geimer.
    Mr. Polanski, and Mr. Polanski alone, is responsible for the ongoing horrors that are still being inflicted on Ms. Geimer.
    He should have manned up and paid the piper thirty two years ago.

    Since California is in dire straits, Mr. Polanski should have to pick up the prosecution's tab.
    As a country we should never tolerate pedophilia.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  41. Mike Borrelli, Florida

    At his age, most likely he would not be able to live long enough
    to serve his sentence, so I think the judge should set a presendent
    and make one of his two children serve out the remainder of what
    he cant. Lets see how he likes his child victimized !

    September 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  42. Mike Borrelli, Florida

    I am a bit shocked that the victim thinks the charges should be
    dropped. I wonder, had she not gotten a monetary settlement,
    if she would still feel this way. I think not ! He plead guilty and
    its now time to pay the piper. And as far as people like Debra
    Winger and others supporting him, they are a disgrace to the
    human race.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  43. Taylor Darcy

    It is utterly amazing that one of his supporters thinks he shouldn't go to jail for "one little mistake". EXCUSE ME? Since when did rape qualify as one LITTLE mistake! This type of case destroys other's confidence in the legal system and their ability to prosecute guys like this. It demeans and belittles everyone as long as this "human being" is allowed to be free. I believe in justice and mercy. There must be consequences for what he has done. If and when he pays his debt then may God have mercy on his soul.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  44. chris

    He deserves the same punishment that anyone else would

    receive.No exceptions. I don,t believe in double standard.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  45. Cheryl B

    As in any other assault case, the victim isn't the one who says Aye or Nay on the charges against a perpetrator, I believe that's decided by a judge and sometimes a jury of peers.
    A person in any other social standing would've been hunted down long before now. Regardless of the victim's discomfort this man should not get away with what he did, including evading arrest, fleeing the country and bargaining in bad faith to be added to the original list of charges that Polanski admitted to.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm |
  46. Gricel

    30 years dats just ridiculous he shouldve been extradited years ago he is a pig...

    September 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  47. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    i feel sorry for the victim but i still think he should face his crimes instead of running. the years that have passed should not matter, how many other young girls did he do this too? he is still capable of doing it to others as well.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:51 pm |
  48. steven crandall

    this man needs to be held acountable for what he has done! why should a director be let off when a mere mortal like everyone else would pay the price? money and fame should not have any say in justice. if it does, then our system has gone to hell!

    September 28, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    I think Polanski will fight extradition and whether he is successful in his fight will depend on how much his country backs him up. It would be good to get this case settled because each time it comes up the victim probably feels like she is being victimized again by having to dredge through those memories.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  50. Cindy

    Oh I hope that they extradite Polanski, prosecute him and sling his butt in jail where he belongs! He is a child molester plain and simple regardless of how famous or how much money he has!! He did the crime now he must do the time!!

    It's sad to hear that once again another Chicago kid is killed for nothing. You would think after all of this time they would have a handle on this problem. But I guess not!

    Cindy..Ga.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
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