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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. Dave

    Polanski needs to face justice plain and simple. This is not about the victim because Polanski is already convicted. Being a successful film maker or having evaded capture for 30 years doesn't mean he is no longer a fugitive.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm |
  2. ziad

    Although this is the first time I hear of Polansky's case, I'm really irritated by how some Europeans and so called stars have the decency to face the cameras and attempt to protect this pedophile! Justice, though 30 years late, should be served against this criminal.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  3. Polaris

    Amazing how the vast majority of people posting here condemn this guy even though they know dick all about the trial details. The majority of us non-Americans have absolutely no respect for the US judicial system. It is totally corrupt. I don't hear anyone screaming about how the top Wall Street execs got away with the robbery of the century over the past few years and should be punished for the utter devastation they caused on countless lives. Those men should be extradited to foreign countries and put on trial for causing massive financial damage on the rest of the world and sent to jail for the rest of their lives. What Bernie Madoff did was nothing in comparison to what those criminals got away with. Grow up America.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  4. David Lenz

    Justice must be served, no matter how old the case is or how famous he is. Get him back to California and let the courts decide his fate.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  5. Charlie

    You'd have to be out of your mind to want to use tax payer money to jail this man after all this time. Sorry, I do not support this charade. Leave him be. No good can come of this. American bloodthirst is embarassing.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  6. Cathy Wyoming

    Haven't read all the posts, pry should have......... The guy PLEAD GUILTY to a crime against a child. Money kept him out of jail. (leaving the country) So because it's been 30+ years, we should turn the other way??? What if it would have been your daughter?

    The next interesting thing is the people rushing to stand up for him. Country Leaders are calling him a great man. GREAT men don't RAPE children.

    Additionally, he gets the respect of others WHILE he's on the lamb for RAPE. Harrison Ford went to France to give him his Oscar!!! Many other names have been tied to this guy. Jack Nicholson, is reported to be one of his greatest supporters. WHO defends a child rapist?Perhaps it's up to us to quit supporting these people. From now on when we see someone commited to wrong, STOP spending your money with these FRAUDS. This is the RAPE of a CHILD.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  7. J

    Roman Polanski raped a child, by his own admission and by her testimony. On this, they agree, and our legal system should proceed accordingly. I don't care who he is, what he's done since he fled punishment, why he fled, whether or not the victim thinks he should be punished, etc. He raped a child.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  8. Maranda

    I think anyone who druged and rapped a 13 yr old girl should be incarcerated for at least 20 years.
    Any ordinary person would have been convicted.
    It doesn't matter if it 32 years after the fact or 2 years after the fact it happened.
    Rape is rape.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  9. Sean

    Those who are defending him should go read the grand jury testimony available online for years now.

    The girl said No.

    In fact, she begged to be taken home. To try and ease things along, he drugged her and she still begged him to stop – he didn't. Every time he wanted to do something – she said no. It's rape.

    I don't see how anyone can read that testimony and still think this man doesn't belong in jail, if not buried under it. The travesty of justice was that it was even considered to let him escape jail time back in 77.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  10. Inigo Sala

    None of us where at the home that night. It is time for everyone to care more about the past and pass judgment on what happen so many decades ago. The man had lost his mind. Murdered wife by Charles Manson’s family, dead moth because of Hitler; have any of us been through so much? No. The man was out of his mind. Death makes people act in strange ways, even though by no means was it okay what he did.
    If the victim wants to put it behind her and had publicly announced that she no longer cares and had already settled out of court years ago, then we should respect her wishes and move on to what our issues are today. We all have a little to hide, just because someone else got caught, you do not get to cut their head off. Sorry.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  11. Phil

    I find most of the comments interesting, and, perhaps, uninformed. Polanski realized his wrong, and worked to protect the victim. For the second time in his life, the LA legal system failed to keep its agreements with Polanski. Remember Manson? How personal effects that were private to Polanski and Tate, and had no bearing on the murder investigation, were made public?
    The American justice system, LA style, demonstrated to Polanski that it can not be relied on, trusted. He was willing to serve time for his actions. However, a judge with political ambition decided to ignore the agreement, deny Polanski a jury trial, and put him in prison for life.
    What would you do?
    I am not saying he is squeaky clean. Far from it. But, neither is the LA DA's office.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  12. rkarr

    I guess they should let that Garrido molester go as well; afterall it happened a long time ago and he fathered two children with her. But because he doesn't make films he will get whats coming while Polanski is an artist so he wants to skate.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  13. tony

    This pig belongs in jail. End of story.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  14. Melanie Wilson

    When Polanski was tried and then sentenced, it was the Judge presiding over the case that messed up and recanted his previous "good faith" arrangement he had made with the prosecutor and defense attorney.........Polanski served his time in jail and I think it is time for Gov. Schwarzenegger to step up now and pardon Polanski – the United States has enough to worry about besides going after a fugitive that has been minding his business in another country for the past 30 years – besides, are the American people who are in favour of jailing Polanski prepared to fund his stay in their prison????? I think the only reason Polanski was arrested after all this time is strictly for political reasons and nothing else!!!! Leave him alone.

    Melanie
    (Fort Erie, Ontario)

    September 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  15. Bob Brinkman

    French Culture Minister Frederick Mitterrand said after Polanski was arrested upon arrival in Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award. "There's an America we love and an America that scares us, and it's that latter America that has just shown us its face."

    Really?? Of all the causes one can jump behind in the world, you choose to get behind a 43 year old man who admits to drugging and raping a 13 year girl?? America scares you??? Really???

    September 28, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    I hope and pray that President Obama will do the right thing and pardon this gentleman. I believe he will.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  17. Richard

    Hollywood big shots are above the law and its ok to ignore their innocent victims. This bum should get life.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  18. Erika M Schlueter

    Is it not about time we Americans try to do something to change our flawed judicial system......

    September 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  19. WanDa

    M. Polanski robbed this young girl of her innocence in the most heinous of ways.
    It doesn't matter that he settled with her out of court.
    Her life could never have been the same after the acts he committed on her.
    Let him make his final masterpiece from behind bars, if the art community wants/needs him.
    He can title it, If you don't wanna do the time, don't do the crime..or whatever.
    Anyone who has a sister, mother, aunt or any female in their family would want justice.
    Call those out that are speaking on his behalf.
    This is an outrage..and he should pay for his crime.
    He is a coward.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  20. Donn

    Sounds like a pervert. He raped a 13 year old girl and has been living the good life. He drugged her and took advantage of a young girl. Just because you are famous you still need to pay for your crime. After his wife was killed, shortly after, he was dating her younger, beautiful sister. He is a weirdo. He needs to pay for his crime. He pled guilty. He has been living the good life and needs to face justice.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  21. Dennis

    Polanski should be freed. People seem to overlook the fact that he has owned up to his crime by way of pleading guilty back in '77. If the Judge had not had such an appetite for fame and honored the plea Polanski and Geimer's lawyers had agreed upon, this would not be an issue right now. The man has gone through enough during his life. It would be tragic if the genius behind "Chinatown", "Rosemary's Baby", and "Repulsion", etc, ends his life in prison after spending his youth under the Nazi Occupation.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  22. Troy luchessi

    San francisco here. I think he should do his time. It's not fair, just because he's a talented director, who I respect as a director, but not a pedafile!

    September 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  23. Lisa

    Maggie is absolutely correct! The mother's actions need to be taken into consideration here.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  24. Barry

    Mr. Polanski should fight extradition and win.

    It is obvious that he can not obtain a fair trial in America, and especially not in California.

    Actually it is closer to the truth to say that almost no one gets a fair trial in America because the process has become so politicized.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  25. Michael McHale

    "i ran away because I thought the judge would give me a bad sentence" ... Polanski's in a 60 minute interview a year after he ran way. What a jerk! He pleaded guilty and then ran away – he's not innocent. Does he deserve 50 years...probably not!

    But he should appear and face the consequences. I would respect him for that. Why did it happen now? His lawyers for the last few years have pleaded that the US Dept. of Justice has not made an effort to have him arrested and as such the international warrant for his arrest should be set aside. Not "I'm innocent, but can you find a loophole... this action in Switzerland, by the US dept. of Justice, thankfully throws that defense out the window.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  26. Mike S

    If Polanski didn't feel he was getting a fair shake by the judge, he should have resolved that through the criminal justice system. He could have withdrawn his plea and taken a shot at court. If he felt the judge wasn't impartial, he could have appealed, perhaps even for a different venue.

    Considering his age, maybe they could just prosecute him for fleeing the country? If that gave him the rest of his life in prison, that would be enough.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  27. TL

    I read the first comment from Cindy and now I do not have to type as much.

    She said it just right, "He is a child molester plain and simple".

    September 28, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  28. ourdearleader

    Surprising to me that 100% of the posts here utterly ignore the legal issue.

    It is not whether he raped a 13-year old girl. That's a settled matter. He did, and admitted so himself when he plead guilty. Done deal. Ancient history. And oh yeah, BTW, his assertion that it was "consensual" is utterly irrelevant. 13 year olds cannot consent to sexual intercourse in any state in the union.

    The issue is that he was convicted of a crime and then fled before sentencing. The issue is that he is a fugitive from justice. Could be rape, could be burglary, could be embezzlement – at this point, all exactly equal.

    You cannot flee from justice. It makes a mockery of the law. Now he is captured and must be extradited so that we, the people, can enforce justice.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  29. gerrit westervoorde

    i think he should go to jail and he should get more jail time for skipping this country

    September 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  30. Katherine

    With all due respect, it's not all about the victim. She may have moved on but that doesn't mean that a pedophile should go free. Aren't the courts mandated to prosecute sex crimes against children?

    September 28, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  31. Liz

    The only question I have, is why now? Why are they trying to extradite Polanski now? Its been 30 years, and from what I've read the victim has forgiven him. So, why are they pushing to extradite and prosecute now? I think the best thing is to bring him back, and negotiate a plea bargin. It would be a tremdous waste of very limted resources to try to go to trial.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  32. Shanteria

    People have short memory spans. They tend to forgive and forget. Maybe their own human frailties play a part in the acceptance. I personally find it revolting and a gross misuse of their so called “power” status.
    The spouse usually will suffer through it in silence and the children if any are probably emotionally scarred as well.
    I guess people see that they are humans too and that they do make silly mistakes. We need to stop holding them on such high pedestals and understand they cook, eat, and do the same things we do. All Humans make mistakes.

    September 28, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  33. discovery101

    Get over it! Who wasn't doing drugs and having sex in the early 70's. What do you think all these people who go to Thailand and Philippines do?

    September 28, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  34. Mike

    I don't normally respond to blogs, but this is a very hot topic as evidenced by the responses listed. I have no sympathy for child molesters but circumstance should be considered. How did the girl get there – did her parents drop her off on the casting couch? This does not excuse his behavior as nor does the fact that this man who had to fend for himself since childhood – probably had his own demons. He should return and face his accuser and may they both shed light on a horrible tradgedy that still faces countless children every day and needs to be stopped.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:59 pm |
  35. Senlarona

    As I recall, this girl was presented as much older by a mother who wanted to further or start a career in film. Remember that was Hollywood where otherwise wonderful parents throw their children at film makers hoping to get in the spotlight.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  36. Grace Chu

    As a liberal, latte-sipping, New York City resident who is part of the pop culture mafia, I respectfully decline to give this man a free pass due to his talent and I look upon those who defend him with disgust.

    YA DO THE CRIME, YA DO THE TIME. Period.

    The thing is, had he gone to prison like he should have in the 70s, he'd be a free man by now. Oh well, Roman. Too bad, so sad.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  37. Janice

    I think it's appalling that someone can rape & drug a 13 year old girl, plead guilty & flee the law for this many years. Polanski has reaped many rewards for his successes & not once has looked back.. It really scares me that so many want to keep protecting him. Anyone else would have paid their time & he should not be held to any higher standards. This young girl has spent many years the victim when she doesn't deserve it. Stand up & take your punishment like a man & not like a coward...I will shed no tears for you!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  38. Cheryl B

    I agree with Rich, I'm not at all comfortable with thinking other artists find Polanski is justified by his status or wealth... Does that mean they are too, oh, is this a different world they live in?
    Pulling down the veil of such games the rich and famous play, there are no secrets that won't be brought into the open!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  39. Marcus Rollo

    He raped a thirteen year old girl and escaped prosecution for thirty years. He needs to be extradited and he needs to serve his time. Anyone who says otherwise is, for all intents and purposes, advocating for the molestation of children.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  40. Chelsea

    Roman should not go to jail. The judge at the time forced a strict sentence because he was famous. Plus he was lied to and served time in jail. If it just been reported the statute of limitations would have run out.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  41. Bernice Bamburak

    It wasn't that shocking to me that Hollywood is speaking out on behalf of Polanski. Woody Allen is still hero-worshipped and he married his young stepdaughter. If you are talented and your work makes other people lots of money, you are permitted to get away with all sorts of things. Isn't it ironic that these same people were completely outraged that Michael Vick was reinstated after paying his debt to society? Seems to me that women sometimes have less status than dogs in this country.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  42. JP

    I do not think Polanski should be extradited. What many people don't understand is that Polanski's trial in the US is really the problem: Polanski was set to be sentenced with no jail time; however, a DA from a separate district interfered with the judicial process. The judge then recanted his agreement twenty-four hours (roughly) before sentencing and advised Polanski's lawyers that he will probably issue jail time (again, after an outside DA interfered.) In this case Polanski was abused by a judicial system. Had Polanski known that he would have been sentenced to a harsher sentence, perhaps he would have agreed. If you put yourselves in Polanski's position during his trial and you were informed that the judicial process isn't a fair process, then you might have ran away too.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  43. Andrew

    I absolutely agree that money and fame shouldn't have any say in justice. Which is why Roman Polanski's case was such a miscarriage of justice, with both prosecution and defense in agreement for a moderate sentencing, but the judge mugging for the press trying to show that rich & famous will be punished for the crimes trying to lock up Polanski for the rest of his life. I don't blame him for running, with the options being either exile from America or being locked up by a judge more concerned with appearances than rule of law.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  44. David

    Three cheers for the authorities. There are consequences for criminal actions, and time does not diminish them.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  45. Natalie

    "The Academy Award-winning director"..."Child rapist sick freak of nature turned on by pubescent, drugged little girls rather than women" probably because of his "little man syndrome" probably – is how he should be seen.

    I love this country. I spent 20 years serving in the military...but we have a major problem: We seem to be willing to give sports icons and hollywood moguls passes at all the wrong times. Why is this?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  46. hank castle

    He should be forced to watch endless reels of his own crappy movies.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  47. Jeff

    How many of you were there in the room with them? How many of you truly know what happen? I believe you all have the rite to comment and express your opinions on this curious violation of nature, but I think none of you have the rite to judge the man personally.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  48. Rodney Taylor

    I shall be succinct: France sucks! I don't care if they DID give us the statue of liberty!!!

    September 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  49. Scott Stodden

    Roman Polanski is very talented but not above the law, he should be brought to justice and sent to prison for the rest of his pathetic life, this is just inhumane

    September 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  50. Dave

    I think the extradition will be blocked on some type of faux legal grounds long enough for the guy to get back into France.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
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