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Freeing Roman Polanski: Travesty, or justice?

Switzerland is letting the 76-year-old film director walk after a court decided not to extradite him on child sex charges. Should the saga end here?

Swiss authorities formally rejected a U.S. request to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski over a 1977 statutory rape case, and released Polanski from house arrest. Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said Switzerland had decided to free the 76-year-old French-Polish director because it couldn't be sure the extradition request was justified, or that Polanski hadn't already served enough time in confinement for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, against her protests. Has justice been served, or did Polanski's celebrity get him off the hook? (Watch an AP report about Polanski's release)

Apparently it's fine to abuse children if you're famous: Congratulations, all you Polanski apologists, says Johann Hari in Britain's Independent. Thanks in part to you — remember Whoopi Goldberg saying Polanski didn't commit "rape, rape"? — "an unrepentant, bragging child-rapist" is now free. Now we know a 44-year-old man can "drug and anally rape a terrified 13-year-old girl" — as long as he runs away and directs "a few good films." Disgraceful."So that's OK then. It's fine to abuse young girls, as long as you're a great film director"

Polanski's punishment wasn't as light as some think: It's fair to ask whether Roman Polanski served enough time, says Shelby Grad in the Los Angeles Times. He spent 42 days behind bars, then fled when it looked like his sentence might be extended. Today people in California who get rape charges dismissed by pleading guilty to sex with a minor get a year or more in prison. But Polanski's lawyers point out that in the '70s the typical sentence was much, much more lenient."Did Roman Polanski serve enough time? Sentencing statistics add to debate"

Jail isn't Polanski's only punishment: In some ways, Roman Polanski's celebrity makes his penalty more harsh, says Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. Thanks in part to the outrage over his release, Polanski "is likely to be viewed in some quarters as another kind of O.J. Simpson, someone who in many circles will be shunned and whose name won't be associated with the accomplishments that made him famous." Instead, he'll be remembered as an arrogant guy who got away with abusing a child — and nothing he does will be enough to shake that."Swiss decide not to extradite Polanski to U.S.: Say he's a 'free man'"

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