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Oscars 2003: Did Roman Polanski miss his best shot at freedom?

October 2, 2009 |  7:28 am

Up until this week, many Roman Polanski supporters believed that the case against him might get squashed because of allegations of judicial misconduct. In the documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," former prosecutor David Wells claimed that he'd had an inappropriate chat with the judge in 1978, advising him on how he could throw out Polanski's plea bargain and put the confessed sex offender back behind bars.

Roman polanski

But, oops, now Wells has recanted the claim and it looks like Polanski no longer has an easy way out. Did he ever?

Perhaps so. We'll never know for sure, but there were many reports back in 2003 that prosecutors might reduce his sentence to time served (42 days he spent in state prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation in 1978). All he had to do was agree to return to a California court and face the sentencing he dodged when he got out of jail.

Back in 2003, Polanski's "The Pianist" was a major Oscars contender and Hollywood put on quite a show, whipping up sympathy for him. Surprisingly joining the welcome-home party was his victim, Samantha Geimer, who asked everyone to forgive him. In an article she wrote for the L.A. Times, she even encouraged academy members to vote for him if they felt he deserved to win.

The New York Post was among the news media that reported "promises from prosecutors that he can return to America and avoid prosecution on the under-age sex charge that sent him into exile."

However, the Post added, "The director is said to be holding out for total amnesty." When no deal was struck and Polanski won the Oscar as best director, he ended up accepting it via satellite from Europe.

Why can't a new deal get struck now? Apparently, the old goodwill is gone because of that controversial documentary, which accused the California legal system of unethical behavior, which no longer seems to be true. The accusation caused Polanski's lawyers to seek a dismissal of the case. That infuriated authorities, who responded by intensifying the hunt for Polanski — and finally nabbed their man.

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Poll: Do you think Roman Polanski deserved to win the Oscar for 'The Pianist'?

Photo credit: Jacques Brinon / Associated Press

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Comments

I gotta admit I don't understand why so many people are willing to forgive and forget just because it was 30 years ago and he's an 'artist' - if he had just been some schmo he woul dnot be getting so much sympathy from the glittterati

if it was your child who was drugged and then raped (after she said no) by a famous person would you feel the same way? i doubt it.

polanski is a predator and rapist - there can be no excuse for his crime. if it was anybody else he would have been extradited year ago. the fact that the victim forgave him (and probably doesn't want to revive horrific memories) does not let him off the hook.

he should be taken off the streets immediately and after his release he can wear an ankle bracelet like the rest.

The real expense in getting Polanski back on US soil would be lawyers - and all the legal expenses required to mount his extradition. But, there's a way to bypass all that.

Correct me if I'm wrong but, when Polanski left the US, he violated a bail agreement - didn't he? Not all that long ago, another sex criminal escaped the USA to Mexico. But he was caught and brought back to justice without all the trappings of an extradition (and at a fraction of the cost). How?

"Dog" the bounty hunter! California state must have one or two private jets for use by state officials, right? Let Dog borrow one to fly to Switzerland, bag Polanski, and fly him back to California. Pay Dog for his expenses and a cut of the bail recovery fee - and that would be that.

Why do they keep acting like he is innocent? He PLEADED GUILTY. I do not care if his victim forgave him or not. She was 13 and he used drugs and alcohol to have sex with her. And he admitted that. So why are people still defending him?

Polanski NEVER pleaded guilty to forced rape. He pled guilty to a lesser charge to time served. The ONLY reason he fled was because he was going to be screwed by the judge. He HAS ALREADY SERVED HIS TIME. GET IT?

What makes you hallucinate that the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct "no longer look true?" That prosecutor is obviously a liar.

I hear they are saving a cell for him next to Bernie Madoff!

Polanski is guilty, but he is cleary not a risk anymore and the victim has moved on. Stop wasting our tax dollars on this case and catch some of the criminals that really threaten us.

If California is bankrupt why would they want to spend another sixty million dollars prosecuting Polanski?

Is not the D.A. is looking for a free vacation in Switzerland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The real issue is not that Roman Polanski will go to jail for the rest of his life for his mistake that occured after his unborn child was murdered and his wife slaughtered by that monster Charles Manson is wonder California. Nobody is talking about that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Roman Polanski goes to jail in the U.S. he will be beaten and tortured, raped and probably killed just like all the
other offenders who go to jail there.

The U.S.A has openly stated that it is exempt from abiding by the treaties that it signs but every other country has to follow.

Just look at how many times they violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!!!!!!!!!!!! The answer is always that the USA is so much better in Freedom that it is above the law and since every other country is worthless so what.

Why isn't George Bush and Dick Cheny being extradited to Europe to face war crimes and crimes of genocide?????????

What about the 5000 pound bomb that was dropped on somebody's house because they had a hint Sadam was there or the horrific murder of a bunch of Iraqi's huddle inside a bomb shelter???

What about using Depleted Uranimum on poor Iraqi's and crying about Iran's weapons of mass destruction in the same breath???

Nobody talks about that any more. What about bringing to justice those responsible for the genocide of agent organe?

It is all a farce. Polanski is going to jail to prove to the world the U.S.A. still rules the world with it's iron fist and nobody will get away with anything.


Many highly accomplished and successful people have criminal backgrounds. Many people do bad things and then change and go on to make valuable contributions to society. A person is much more than the worse thing he/she has ever done. This is why an unreasoning fear of criminals and notions that offenders cannot be rehabilitated are so very wrong. The criminal justice system needs to be driven less by frothing-at-the-mouth, vengeance-crazed sadistic zealots and more by the need to disarm criminals by getting them back to being useful citizens wherever possible, and where that doesn't work, isolating them from society. It seems to me that Polanski already has been rehabilitated since he has not faced any new charges since apparently.

Many highly accomplished and successful people have criminal backgrounds. Many people do bad things and then change and go on to make valuable contributions to society. A person is much more than the worse thing he/she has ever done. This is why an unreasoning fear of criminals and notions that offenders cannot be rehabilitated are so very wrong. The criminal justice system needs to be driven less by frothing-at-the-mouth, vengeance-crazed sadistic zealots and more by the need to disarm criminals by getting them back to being useful citizens wherever possible, and where that doesn't work, isolating them from society. It seems to me that Polanski already has been rehabilitated since he has not faced any new charges since apparently.

Sure, all sex offenders deserve an oscar. Let's celebrate men who rape little girls. I just threw up in my mouth.

read or listen to the court transcripts and you will want this man to be prosecuted

You guys are really naive, if you believe that everybody who confesses a crime in form of a plea bargain committed the crime as confessed. Remember the renegade scandal? Innocent people confessed crimes that they had not committed. I'm not saying that Polanski was innocent or framed, just that you shouldn't assume he committed exactly what he plead according to the bargain. Who knows what a jury had found, if Polanski had recanted. Everyone who discusses the severity of the crime misses the point. The only thing that matters is that he ran from justice because he didn't like the way his case was going. So, stop discussing the crime, just the issue: is it worth expanding all these resources and taxpayers' money to get him back to the US, face a long trial with endless appeals to probably acquit him or at most sentence him to probation or 1-2 mths in prison? Shouldn't we use our resources to fight crime here in california? It's not like we don't have any crimes to fight to keep our authorities busy...

If she doesn't care, why should we? Because we all have an interest in prosecuting criminals, whether or not they have the means to pay off their victims. The crime is committed against the state (people) of California, and everyone who cares about the law, justice or (need I say this?) child rape has an interest in seeing Polanski brought to justice.

She either wants to be done with this or the Hollywood celebs that love him have paid her to keep quiet either way if she doesnt care why should we??

im not a lawyer or anything but its seems its cut and dry. ppl are saying free him because of judge misconduct? the guy pled guilty to a charge of raping a child! and then ran before they could sentence him! if this was some other joe schmoe he wouldve been on america's most wanted a long time ago. i believe he truly is a changed man, but the guy pled guilty to raping a child and though they dropped all those other charges its pretty obvious he drugged and raped and sodomized a 13 yr old girl she had no reason to lie about the situation. then he ran before he could finish the case. how can anybody really defend this guy?

Geimer sued and accepted a settlement. Many settlements in situations have gag clauses attached to them. If she had to sign one in order to avoid being in court forever, who could blame her? but that may be why she is not willing to pursue the case.

Stephen, you really are totally clueless when it comes to the rule of law. The crime is against the state. Understand that. Only the state can forgive.
If a family has their son murdered it does not matter if they want the killer free. If a woman burns down a sister's home and the sister wants her free it does not matter.
The Crime is Against The People.
They are the ones saying that wealth and the ability to run does not make a man innocent.

To Stephen G. : The case is the People v Roman Polanski not the victim v Roman Polanski. Certain crimes do not need consent from the victim to get prosecuted. If you do not know anything about the law, refrain from making comments regarding such topic.

Sex laws have been built on misconceptions and myth.
The Supreme Court just ruled on sex offender laws where some factions of our government think by some inert reasoning that sex offender should be quarantined like some virus steaming from Draconian/Islamic radical view that sex offenders should be executed. I have seen for myself, video taken in another country where a sex offender was placed on a pole much like the Catholics use to use a pyramid shaped object and have them sit on it and spin, the pole travels through the body looking for the throat but if not found its ok because the sharpened end of the pole will come out somewhere to the delight of these very strange people who think such sad thoughts. The heritage of the act is in its self a brutal throwback to violent uneducated people who are so obsessed with any sex they can find & the only way to deal with this kind of "hierarchy" of historic hysteria. A word taken from hysterectomy, hysteria is tied to castration used to make animals less threatening which clearly explains the atmosphere we have made for our selves.
Anyway we are supposed to be the most advanced nation and we still have a death penalty when the rest of the world except for some nations we are still warring with, selling weapons too, {think!} while other nations went home our weapons dealers and torture lovers delighting in support for the death of people they don’t know or want to simply because they don’t know how to get money with out taking it from someone by force. Is that supposed to include mutilations? In my humble opinion that alone are terrorist activities as much as severed hands, ears, heads, or making a case with nothing more than an obsession justified by lies.
The truth about the sex offender registry will come out soon enough. When it does, People will see how the use of the registry was created, and by exactly who and why and the devastation it has created and the worthlessness of the use of it. It’s origin in the Jim Crow hanging laws that brought disgrace to our nation allowing thieves and murderous societal bigots who have trashed any shot at making good of a program in its design to make money destroying our nation and its people. We can not play god and we can not survive using this behavior model because we are compounding the problem since the numbers increasing to include the children they purport to protect.
It's a ruse designed by people who are getting rich off the doctoring, castration/hysterectomy/health care/physic care of people through sex laws that have gone wild. What about the people who are being used by the Medicare programs that requires these mutilations for both men and woman after they take their means of support? Digging around in someone’s genitalia because you want what a weaker nation? Can't you see? You have created the model and it is worthless! Why don't we just indiscriminately kill people we don't know? That is statically the next sex offender, because over 90% of all new offences are committed by someone “not” on the sex offender registry and the numbers are increasing not decreasing so as a behavior model this is really worthless.
So what is the use of such laws as the sex offender registry other than to terrorize people? With the murder of so many sex offenders and the continued disregard for life by the use of the registry it will be no time at all before the federal government will be held liable for their deaths through federal court.
In a nation where a statement may have a double or triple meaning and our entire linage can be traced through mud, guts, and beer it’s nice once in a while to get the picture of what is meant instead of what some thinks someone may have implied being translated by greed. So it is from the trenches to the hill. Remember the game where someone says something in someone’s ear then passes it the same way to the next; the person advocating such destructive laws are the ones who need to be section 8 by simple brake down of the issue not the sex offenders. Best regards

He's a fugitive who pleaded guilty to statutory rape then ran for 30 years. What a moron. And the idea what anyone else would have been forgotten? Seriously? Most people don't have the means to run like he did. When there is a warrant out for your arrest, you'd find if very difficult to hide for that long in the US.

All he has to do is appear and let his lawyers deal with it. With appeals, lack of evidence, accusations of misconduct and so on, he could have dealt with it years and years ago if he had been smarter and not such a coward.

Micheal Jackson had more sense.

The victim in a child sex abuse or rape case is not the prosecutor. The state is the prosecutor, and should decide whether or not to proceed. This case is not just about the wishes of Samantha Geimel, but is about how child sex offenders are dealt with. Not pursuing the case will send an unacceptable message that an esteemed film director means you are above the law. In my opinion, RP should be sent home to face the music.

Polanski didn't accept his Oscar via satellite, the Academy (and Harrison Ford) accepted on his behalf. He wasn't present in any way.

Why do they keep acting like he is innocent? He PLEADED GUILTY. I do not care if his victim forgave him or not. She was 13 and he used drugs and alcohol to have sex with her. And he admitted that. So why are people still defending him? If it was just some guy down the block on your street you would already have the pitchforks out and rightly so. The people supporting him disgust me.

Im not a republican but at least the Governator has the right idea. At least someone in authority and with some celebrity clout is thinking straight. No pardon for you raper.

It is a cheap and easy populist angle to tap into public anger and jealousy toward the rich and accomplished, but I would submit that if Polanski had been a "nobody" in Los Angeles in 1977, no secret grand jury would have been convened to investigate a routine sex case, the plea bargain (that the Department of Corrections evaluation would govern whether Polanski would do additional prison time, and which evaluation concluded he should not) would have been honored, and certainly none of us would have read about the case--ever.

This is especially true in view of the fact that the victim's family told prosecutors and the court on day-one that Polanski should not do more time beyond his 42 days in prison as well as the victim's current statements that the case should be dismissed.

Or do Polanski bashers all of a sudden not respect the views of the victim in a criminal case? If the victim (who is now 45 years old) says the case should be dropped, who are you to say otherwise?

 

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