Justice moves slowly, but it does move...
Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland on a decades-old arrest warrant stemming from a sex charge in California, Swiss police said Sunday.
Polanski, 76, was taken into custody trying to enter Switzerland on Saturday, Zurich police said. A spokesman for the Swiss Justice Ministry said Polanski was arrested upon arrival at the airport.
He has lived in France for decades to avoid being arrested if he enters the United States and declined to appear in person to collect his Academy Award for Best Director for "The Pianist" in 2003.
The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to a single count of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, acknowledging he had sex with a 13-year-old girl. But he fled the United States before he could be sentenced, and U.S. authorities have had a warrant for his arrest since 1978.
What Polanski actually did was to use his status as a famous Hollywood director to get close to a 13-year-old girl in the neighborhood, taking photos of her and talking to her about getting into the movie business.One night over at Jack Nicholson's house, he fed her a quaalude and a lot of champagne and essentially used her as a blow up doll, with all three inputs involved.
Polanski was able to afford good lawyers and Los Angeles has always been friendly to the movie industry, so he ended up pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, rather than drugging and raping a thirteen-year-old. But afterward, he fled to France before he could be sentenced ( can you imagine a non-celebrity getting bail after being convicted of an offense like that?). The French refused to extradite him and he's been there ever since.
Part of what changed was that Polanski's lawyers made a strong attempt earlier this year to have the charges tossed out, onth ebasis that the Los Angeles D.A.'s office hadn't made an effort to extradite Polanski inyears because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza rejected the request, correctly noting that those arguments needed to be made with the defendant present in the court, not overseas.
That stirred the waters a bit, and L.A. prosecutors, who were always disturbed at the way Polanski had essentially walked made a formal request to Swiss authorities to arrest him when they learned Polanski was going to be in Switzerland. They'll now have to go through formal extradition proceedings, so hopefully Polanski will be on his way home soon and on his way to a cell.