Roman Polanski Is Arrested

In March 1977 film director Roman Polanski was arrested and charged with a number of offenses against Samantha Geimer, a thirteen-year-old girl.

She testified that Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and quaaludes, a sedative drug and muscle relaxant, and despite repeated protests and being asked to stop, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy upon her. A grand jury charged him with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. At his arraignment Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges. In an effort to preserve her anonymity, Geimer's attorney arranged a plea bargain which Polanski accepted, and, under the terms, five of the initial charges were to be dismissed. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse, a charge which is synonymous under Californian law with statutory rape. The judge received a probation report and psychiatric evaluation, both indicating that Polanski should not serve jail time, and in response the filmmaker was ordered to ninety days in prison in order to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He was released after forty-two days. Despite expectations and recommendations that he would receive only probation at sentencing, the judge "suggested to Polanski's attorneys" that he would imprison and then deport him. Upon learning of the judge's plans Polanski fled to France in February 1978 hours before he was to be formally sentenced. As a French citizen, he has been protected from extradition. Since then Polanski has mostly lived in France and avoided visiting countries likely to extradite him. Because he fled prior to sentencing, all six of the original charges remain pending.

In 1977, Polanski visited Los Angeles again to shoot photographs for Vogue magazine and was arrested for the sexual assault of a thirteen-year-old in Los Angeles, and later pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. To avoid sentencing, Polanski returned to his home in London, but quickly moved on to France the following day, and has had a U.S. arrest warrant outstanding since then, and an international arrest warrant since 2005. Polanski avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him to the United States. Although he owns a house in Switzerland which he visited frequently, in September 2009 Polanski was arrested by Swiss police, at the request of U.S. authorities, when he traveled there to receive a lifetime achievement "Golden Icon Award" from the Zurich Film Festival. The United States formally requested his extradition on October 23, 2009.