In the same week Roman Polanski’s former wife’s murderer died, the Swiss stepped-up and executed an arrest warrant for the famous film director. Thirty one years ago, Polaski fled the U.S. on charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer. He entered Zurich, Switzerland yesterday to receive an honorary award and was taken into custody. See update 11-26-09 below – Polanski gets bail. See 1-23-10 update below. See 7-12-10 Update – Polanski a free man.
It strikes me that today, 31 years later, raping a 13-year-old is just as abhorrent now as it was then. That is good news.
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. The Swiss are saying Polanski, 76, will eventually be extradited to the U.S., although his attorneys say they will attempt to “life the arrest warrant in Zurich….”
He has lived in exile in France since leaving the U.S. and according to reports, the French Culture Minister is “dumbfounded” by Polanski’s plight, and he “profoundly regrets” that Polanski is “inflicted” with this ordeal – which is a jail cell in Zurich. The Swiss Director’s Association is livid.
According to his 13-year-old victim, Samantha Geimer, she was being photographed by Polanski at the home of Jack Nicholson, who was out of town at the time. She alleged that she was given Champagne and part of a Quaalude pill and then was raped and sodomized. This was back in the days when Nicholson was dating Angelica Huston, who is said to have been in the house when Polanski raped Geimer.
Nicholson was not at home, but his girlfriend at the time, actress Anjelica Huston, was.
According to a probation report contained in the filing, Huston described the victim as “sullen.”
“She appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between — could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing,” Huston said.
She added that Polanski did not strike her as the type of man who would force himself on a young girl.
“I don’t think he’s a bad man,” she said in the report. “I think he’s an unhappy man.”
See a photo of Geimer at the age of 13 here. Ms. Geimer is 45-years-old today. The photo above is Geimer attending the HBO premier of a documentary about the crime against her, Wanted and Desired.
Earlier this year, Geimer asked that the charge against Polanski be dismissed because the “lurid details” of her attack, continually being discussed, created trauma in her life. She is married now, has three children and lives in Kilauea, Hawaii. Geimer says she “has become a victim of the actions of the district attorney.”
I’m not sure how it is helpful to attend a premier about your own rape unless you are on the side of promoting your rapist’s arrest and incarceration.
At the time of Polanski’s first arrest, he said Geimer was sexually experienced and consented to the sex. He entered a guilty plea and was plead down from 6 counts of rape, and the possibility of life in prison. His attorneys believed a deal had been struck for Polanski to spend only days in prison:
But the original judge in the case, who is now dead, first sent the director to maximum-security prison for 42 days while he underwent psychological testing. Then, on the eve of his sentencing, the judge told attorneys he was inclined to send Polanski back to prison for another 48 days.
I think authorities got this one right. The rape of any 13-year-old cannot go unpunished, and living in France is not punishment. Spending a total of 90 days in prison for this offense is a sad commentary on the court’s view of rape. Polanski has been offered the possibility of a dismissal but is required to show-up at court in the U.S. to receive it, and fearing arrest, he has not been willing to do so.
In the case of rape of a minor, the name should never be disclosed. Had Samantha Geimer’s name been kept private, she would not be suffering from media attention today. Having said that, Geimer has received a “settlement” from Polanski and it appears she “outed” herself:
She long ago came forward and made her identity public — mainly, she said, because she was disturbed by how the criminal case had been handled.
Polanski received an Oscar in 2002 for Directing – one of my favorite movies, The Pianist. Other movies he directed are Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, Oliver Twist and Tess.
Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by Susan Denice Atkins, a member of the Manson Family. Their unborn child died also. Atkins remained incarcerated at the time of her death this week of brain cancer. Atkins was the longest-incarcerated female in the California prison system.
Roman Polanski was granted bail
in the Swiss courts after a $4.49 million bail deposit, full surrender
of his passport and travel documents to the Zurich police, and the
donning of an electronic ankle bracelet. Polanski will spend his time
guessing whether or not the Swiss will send him packing back to the
U.S. to receive his punishment for the assault on Samantha Geimer, all
cozied up in a Swiss chalet known as the “Milky Way.” He will be
confined to house arrest inside the luxury $1.6 million Alpine abode:
Even without stepping outside, Polanski’s life will improve from the
small detention cell he had in Zurich with a sink, toilet, television
and storage compartment.
Gstaad (pronounced guh-SHTAHD) offers a range of quality restaurants
and hotels, and “people here can order food to their chalets any time,”
said Marlene Mueller of the local tourism agency.
From the gourmet shop Pernet Comestibles, fine food such as fresh
oysters, Swiss cheeses and a range of whiskies and wine can be
And, even though Polanski may now be the world’s most famous fugitive, most locals are likely to leave him alone.
See – Roman Polanski to US to Face Rape Charges