Roman Polanski’s internationally publicized arrest at a Switzerland airport stirred up the dregs of his past. It has taken over three decades for Polanski, the Oscar-winning director of Chinatown and the Pianist, to be arrested for the 1977 drugging and rape of a 13-year-old girl.
In court, Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. During the plea bargain process, prosecutors dropped a list of more serious charges including sodomy and furnishing drugs to a minor. He was sentenced to 42 days in prison and given time to finish up his latest project. After Polanski failed to show up for his actual sentence, he left on a plane for Europe, fleeing punishment .
Polanski has been living free in France, where he is a citizen, but has traveled through Europe relatively undisturbed until his arrest on Sept. 26 in Switzerland. He was in the country to attend the Zurich Film Festival.
Immediately, Polanski’s longtime friends, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar and Martin Scorsese demanded his immediate release.
These big names are among the many entertainment industry stars opposed Polanski’s arrest. They point to the length of time that has lapsed since the crime and the fact that his rape victim reconciled with him and accepted an undisclosed sum of money to not pursue the case further.
However, none of this changes the fact remains that Polanski fled a court sentencing that he was legally bound to attend. While Swiss authorities have not ruled out bail, any leniency for Polanski would be highly unreasonable. Polanski has already eluded his sentence for over 30 years. Who’s to say he would show up to his court date this time?
Polanski cannot be allowed to get away with his crimes because he was rich and famous enough to pay his victim to not seek charges.
Though Polanski may have come to peace with his past mistakes, the law has been waiting on him for over 30 years, and it’s time that it catches up to him. Sure, Polanski may be considered a great director of films, but neither that nor his age excuse him from the law.
For Polanski to continue to avoid his case would make a mockery of the U.S. justice system. Saying sorry does not cut it. Polanski must receive his court sentence.
It is frustrating to the general public when those with more power or influence believe that they are above the law – it degenerates the legal system.
Polanski would not have fled his court date if he had known that he did not do anything illegal. Instead, he attempted to escape the law, which created a snowball effect of criminal activities. Though he and his victim Samantha Geimer may have come to terms with what happened three decades ago, Polanski should not be exempt from the law’s consequences. Paying off Geimer was of no consequence to Polanski’s disregard for and avoidance of the law. The legal action that should have been taken against this famous movie director three decades ago should go through.
Alexander Helmintoller is a first-year English major. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.