Director Roman Polanski and his attorneys were shocked when Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on Saturday for a child sex charged filed back in the 1970’s. Read more on Polanski’s arrest below.
Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for a child sex charge filed in Los Angeles years ago.
“We absolutely were not expecting such an arrest, in so far as he regularly goes to Switzerland, and he’s done so for several years,” lawyer Herve Temime told Le Figaro, adding that Polanski “even owns a chalet situated in the Gstaad,” a Swiss ski village.
Polanski was arrested 31 years ago at a Beverly Hills hotel when a 13-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s house.
Polanski was arrested in the late 1970s and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to the 13-year-old girl and having sex with her at Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood home. Polanski said the girl was sexually experienced and had consented.
Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests. Polanski then left the country in 1978 before being sentenced.
Two months ago Polanski asked a California appeals court to overturn a judge’s refusal to consider his request to throw out a 1977 case in which he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Judge Peter Espinoza agreed there was misconduct by the judge in the original case, but said Mr Polanski must return to the US to apply for dismissal.
The victim at the centre of the case, Samantha Geimer, has previously asked for the charges to be dropped, saying the continued publication of details “causes harm to me, my husband and children”.
Polanski, who now lives permanently in Paris, is considered an international fugitive.
His Oscar for directing the 2002 The Pianist was collected by Harrison Ford, who had previously starred in his 1988 thriller, Frantic.
A statement from the organizers of the Swiss film festival stated: “Roman Polanski, one of the greatest film directors of our time, would have received an award for his life’s achievement at the Zurich Film Festival.
France’s culture minister says he is “dumbfounded” by the arrest of Polanski, who is a French citizen.
Frederic Mitterrand said he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them”.
The lawyer said that Polanski was able to inform his wife of the arrest, and that “his wife and his children were very shocked … ; however, they remain supportive and confident.”
Temime said he would be flying to Zurich, Switzerland, tonight with Polanski’s wife to meet with Polanski’s Swiss lawyer, and plead for his release.
“We are going to argue a defense based on the extradition procedure,” he explained.
Temime said there is “a problem” with the extradition order because “the supposed victim withdrew [her claim] many years ago.”
“Humanely, it seems to me unbearable that 30 years after the events, a 76-year-old man, who obviously presents no danger to society, and whose reputation on the artistic and personal level is clearly established, can be subjected to a single day in jail,” the lawyer said.
In a statement, the director’s three Los Angeles attorneys, Douglas Dalton, Chad Hummel and Bart Dalton, who are representing him an ongoing attempt to have the case against him dismissed on the grounds of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, said, “We were unaware of any extradition being sought, and separate counsel will be retained for those proceedings.”
Their request to have the 1977 charges against Polanski dismissed is pending before the state Court of Appeal.
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