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Roman Polanski attorneys may have provoked arrest by complaining L.A. wasn't serious about arresting director

Roman Polanski’s attorneys may have helped provoke his arrest by complaining to an appellate court this summer that Los Angeles prosecutors had never made any real effort to arrest the filmmaker in his three decades as a fugitive, two sources familiar with the case told The Times.

The accusation that the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office was not serious about extraditing Polanski was a small part of two July court filings by the director’s attorneys. But it caught the attention of prosecutors and led to his capture in Switzerland on Saturday, the sources said.

Polanski, 76, was taken into custody at the airport in Zurich, where he was scheduled to headline the city’s film festival. Details of his appearance were widely available on the Internet. Variety also reported his planned attendance in August, the month after Polanski’s attorneys had filed two separate documents with the 2nd District of the state Court of Appeal asking for a dismissal of the 32-year-old child sex case against the filmmaker.

In both, the lawyers alleged that the district attorney’s office in effect benefited from Polanski’s absence, because as long as he remained a fugitive, officials could avoid answering allegations of prosecutorial and judicial wrongdoing in the original handling of the case.

“The district attorney’s office, in the 30 years since Mr. Polanski left the jurisdiction, has not once sought to have him extradited. If it had, there would have been a hearing regarding misconduct in this case,” wrote the attorneys, Chad Hummel, Douglas Dalton and Bart Dalton, in a July 7 filing.

Twenty days later, they filed a second document and raised the issue again in a footnote. “Combined with the fact that no effort has been made to extradite Mr. Polanski, the intent here is clear: invoke a physical absence which they caused and deliberately perpetuate in order to preserve the unconstitutional status quo and never address the misconduct head on,” the lawyers wrote. 

The allegations prompted the district attorney’s office to look for an opportunity to seize Polanski, and his appearance in Switzerland, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S., provided such a chance, said the sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because it was an ongoing investigation.

In bemoaning Polanski’s arrest, his supporters have noted that in recent years the director traveled widely in Europe without fear of arrest and even owned a home in Switzerland.

The arrest has become an international incident, with France and Poland demanding that the famed director be released on bail and questioning why he was taken into custody.

The district attorney's office wants Polanski extradited to face charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France-Inter radio that he and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Polanski be released on bail, calling his arrest  a "bit sinister."

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was quoted in French media as saying, "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face."

Swiss authorities told the Associated Press that bail has not been ruled out, but the director would have to stay in Switzerland.

Robert Harris, a British novelist who had worked with Polanski, said in a statement that he believed the arrest was "politically motivated." "I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion," he said.

-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton

Photo: Polanski leaves court on Sept. 19, 1977, after being ordered to undergo a 90-day diagnostic study at a state prison. Credit: Associated Press
Comments () | Archives (120)

I think it's absolutely correct that any man over 76 should not be held responsible for crimes.

Charles Manson is 74. Under this standard he should be released in two years.

Or is the standard different for Hollywood celebrities?

So Polanski's apologists come out of the woodwork to object to his extradition citing as their reasons:

1) It was soooo long ago, and he's been a model citizen (so far as we know) all that time.
2) He's famous, he's cool, and he's too old now.
3) Hey, he managed to escape, you couldn't catch him all this time, and who knows, we may need to do the same some day.
4) So what if he committed rape and sodomy on a 13-year old kid that he drugged. This stuff happens all the time in Hollywood.
5) The victim says she's cool with it now, 32 years later (and thanks, Roman, for the keys to the BMW just for saying I'm cool with it now).

Did I miss any?

Considering the LA County Budget issues, it would seem DA Cooley has more important local issues to deal with.....in addition, this is another bit of negative publicity for our law endorcement folks.

The man committed a serious crime and fled the country. There is a reason why civilized societies have laws... he needs to pay for his crime. I am shocked at the number of people who say 'we have to listen to the victim' or '30 years is too long to take him in now'.. what is wrong with all of those people? We live by rules, we have to follow them or we are in violation of those rules. If we want the rules changed, that's why we have a system to change them. The system is flawed but having sex with a 13yr old goes beyond any civilized societies rules. We have an obligation to protect children. Interesting that having sex with a minor is not considered a crime in France.

This predator needs to be put behind bars and die there!

The LA District attorney's office is like the Gestapo,they act without regards for human dignity,no matter what the issue is.They seem to have no control or accountability for their acts.And Americans dont know why the world hate us?

First, Lister, now Polanski...who's next?

Way to go, Cooley......

"The district attorney's office wants Polanski extradited to face charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 1977."

Get the facts straight Polanski is not facing charges he has already gone to court an plead guilty he only facing sentencing. THIS SCUM has been on the run for 30 years and it is only his fame and his money that has stop justice for being carried out.

"I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion," Robert Harris, a British novelist, said.

Oh, and a girl of 13 can be treated in such a fashion? being drugged, given alcohol and raped, etc., thats just dandy.

Will someone at the L.A. Times please show this story to Patrick Goldstein, who wrote a lengthy column yesterday stating this:

Polanski "drugged his victim with Champagne and Quaaludes before raping her during a 1977 photo session at Jack Nicholson's house".

And yet, Goldstein drones on and on about L.A. County prosecutors wasting taxpayer money and paints Polanski to be the real victim. I sincerely hope Goldstein doesn't have a daughter.

Goldstein's column appeared as the lead story on the LAT Web page yesterday, an odd choice because it made it seem as though the LAT backed this view. I was glad to see this news piece as a top story (although not with a photo as Goldstein's did yesterday), but someone ought to bring it to the attention of Goldstein in case he wants to write a follow up column correcting his first view.

I find the logic that he has been free while traveling widely (although not to the US) or the initial case was flawed so should not face prosecution incredible. This man got away with it and then went about his life normally. he admitted to drugging and having sex with a 13 year old. The French perspective is especially repugnant , calling it "sinister." What kind of society shields a confessed pedophile with such a statement?

He was a fugitive felon. Why should he not be arrested when he becomes available? It might be true that LA County prosecutors are lazy, slow, and have something to hide. But Polanski still needs to answer for his own actions, that he plead guilty to, in court and in person.

No self-respecting court is going to drop charges on a man that is not in hand where he can be punished. If they did, it encourages every person on bail to run and hope that charges drop when the prosecutors get tired of looking. No way it will happen.

He failed to appear for sentencing after pleading guilty to a reduced charge. The facts are he drugged and raped a 13 year old. he must be brought to justice, despite the victims foregiveness, his celebrity status, and the time that has elapsed.
we are a nation of laws, and one in which all citizens are not above the law.

Let's see...
He admitted to and pled guilty of intercourse with a 13 year girl; then fled from paying his debt. And his arrest is wrong for what reason? Have you ever been the father of a 13 year old girl? All who object to Polanski facing the music are moraly depraved. How totally sick and sad.

He Raped a 13 year old girl. Facts are facts, he plead guilty. If he was so innocent why run. He should be a man and step to the charges and fight the charges.

Has Europe really become so degenerate that they can't fathom the arrest of a rapist who has been a fugitive from justice for 3 decades?

It is imperative for our government to start correcting the wrings which have been perpetrated by these Dirtbags.

Roman Polandki has made a mockery of the American people. He is a child molester of the highest degree.

No wonder, he derives from Eurotrash. He's a pervert not unlike the freak that sits outside an elementary school and masterbates while looking at little kids playing in the school's sandbox.

Our government must bring this guy into court in chains to send a clear message to the rest of the world that we as a people will not take their crap any longer.

Look at our government and it's lack of interest to hunt down and get that scumbag Osama Bin Laden.

We need to strong arm that depraved culture and make them hand that killer now or else.

We can start to send a message out to the rest of the works by using Polanski as an prime example.

They need to learn that they must live under the LAW.

He and his products must be banned from entering the US.

If he feels that he has done no wrong, then he must come back and face the judge. If there was wrongdoing, then he will have to appeal his case like every other person.

Allowing this scumbag to go on for 30 years goes to show that our government is more interested in dealing will Americans as opposed to high profile and affluent Eurotrash.

What do you expect from the French. Boycott them now! We should place an economic embargo on them. They must learn that they must play ball or else!

Bring Polanski back in chains now!

Make him learn that he is not above the law!

Notwithstanding the legal mumbo-jumbo, Polanski did in fact drug and rape a
13-year old and his celebrity status shouldn't get him pass.

about time, he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. he should go to jail for the rest of his short life.

Is it really all that "sinister" to pursue an admitted sex offender. After all, Mr Polanski did confess to having sex with the young girl after he drugged her. I don't recall Mr Polanski or his lawyers stating that the confession was in any way coerced. They state merely that the plea deal to which he agreed was retracted, and thus they charge misconduct. Why? Because Mr Polanski didn't care to spend time incarcerated? How arrogant of Mr Polanski to expect that there would be no punishment for his crime.

Without a doubt, were Mr Polanski less notable, there would be no discussion on the matter of extradition.

As serious as the crime may have been, this seems like a horrendous waste of resources by our DA now. Under his plea deal accepted by prosecutors AND the judge in 1978, he would not serve any more time.

So why are we creating an international incident 32 years later? The victim herself wants this dropped, a sitting judge has found impropriety by the old judge who violated the agreement and we have Europe up in arms over it.

Drop it, I say. Drop it before LA and our justice system damage their reputations further.

Hey, when you drug, rape, sodomize a 13 year old, then flee the court to avoid prison, you deserve to be "arrested" and "deported" back to the country of the crime. We "deport" many felons all the time. What's the problem? He can serve his time, pay the fee and be a man now. Or does he want to just pay a $10 Million fine?

One effect of this story is that it has flushed out those who support and defend Polanski-type behavior.

I wonder how many sex crimes could be solved if the DNA of all of Polanski's defenders could be added to the roster of people who could be matched to evidence gathered from rape victims?

This is gigantic news overseas and is stoking anti-Americanism further. The fact that our justice system lied to one of Europe's biggest heroes to get him to plead guilty is not going over well in Europe.

It's a terrible crime he was accused of, granted. But this is another ding on America's reputation abroad that we can ill afford.

It is about time that pervert was held accountable for his actions.

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