Switzerland arrested film director Roman Polanski, 76, who fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to having “unlawful” sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer, a year earlier. The Swiss acted on a 2005 international warrant and a request from the Los Angeles County district attorney to arrest him as he arrived for the Zurich Film Festival. (BBC News)
What the commentators said
“Op-ed moralists, excitable bloggers, and the Glenn Becks of the world” are right, said Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. Polanksi’s crime—drugging Geimer “with Champagne and Quaaludes before raping her” at Jack Nicholson’s house—was “disgusting.” But Geimer has forgiven him and wants to move on, and you’d hope L.A. prosecutors “had better things to do” than hound Polanksi “for a 32-year-old sex crime.”
“This may come as a surprise to some in Hollywood,” said John Nolte in Big Hollywood, but “helming a few cinematic masterpieces” doesn’t put you above the law. Nor is Polanksi “some kind of tragic hero” because of some “perceived misconduct” by the 1978 judge, or even his immense personal tragedies. He raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl, and “nothing mitigates” that “unspeakable crime.”
If Polanski “weren’t famous, I bet no one would bother with him,” said Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post. Forget that his life has been tragic—his mom killed in Auschwitz; his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, slain in 1969 by the Manson family—Polanski has already paid for his crime “in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma.” Jailing him now “does not serve society in general or his victim in particular.”
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