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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)

Victor Hugo's Javert isn't dead but alive and well and living in the L.A. prosecutor's office. And probably up for election to something. And trying to use this antiquated legal relic as a spring board. How pathetic. Didn't the female in this 'case' state long ago she had no interest in filing criminal or civil charges? If so, then why should anybody care about this Hollywood historical footnote? Oh, right, it's politics and Polanski could be politically useful. Well, knock yerself out, Javert. I'm sure we'll all feel a lot safer with old Roman in the slammer.

Children have a right not to be sexual prey, even for rich/white/ famous and insecure men. The US needs to send a message about this crime, damn the expense. Since when does being an "Artist" exempt you from from rules of law or decency? Instead of feeling aggrieved for being brought to trial, how about a little remorse?

He left a pending business and now will have to finish it.
It does not matter if we like him or not, the story seems biased because it just quotes a friend...

Here's a story about a sex offender who admittedly had sex with a 13 year old girl, and the comments section starts with:
"If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate."

Now, THAT's ironic. There are a lot of things that 13 year old children can't participate in, which is the whole point in the first place. This guy belongs in prison. No one is above the law.

"He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life," she told People in 1997.

He is a Pervert. Hard to imagine politicians standing up for him. Well, that's France for you.

While I do NOT condone Mr Polanski's original actions/crimes I question the monies that will be put to this case when LA has How Many 1,000s of backed up NOT tested evidence Rape Kits currentl, because of a lack of funds?
There are 1,000s of Victims/Witnesses being ignored, disserviced, arbitrarily pushed back, to appease the DAs office's ego!?
There are possibly 1,000s of current rapists in LA,CA,US, being allowed to wander freely, not worrying about being imprisoned because a notorius decades old case is more important to the system then protecting Society now?!!

Here's your chance DA! Announce that "...as important as catching Mr P was Your Office prefers to use it's limited funds to pursue all the unknown/known current viable threats of RAPE rather then squander dollars in this economy!"

"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."

So does Harris believe that anyone who manages to evade justice for long enough should be let off their crimes? Reminds me of John Huston's line in Polanski's film 'Chinatown' : 'Ugly buildings, politicians and whores all get respectable if they live long enough.'

Polanski was 44 and the girl 13 at the time of the offence. How Harris or anyone else can defend him is beyond me. But there again, Robert Harris is a well known supporter of Britain's ruling Labour Party, which, let's face it, isn't exactly synonymous with morally upstanding behaviour.

I wonder if Polanski has sex with his own children too, one never knows what a pedophile will do.

All this whining about America being scary etc, loses site of the fact that he was a fugitive. He broke the law. There is no need for an uproar over someone who ran away from being prosecuted for his crime. Stupid.

Mr. Polanski should be brought back and sentenced. The passing of time doesn't change the fact of what he did. Drugging a raping a 13 year old?? I don't care if he is 76. He needs to answer.

Thank you Switzerland.

If Polanski's legal team felt that his appearance in Los Angeles would have allowed them to questional the case proceedings against him, why not get im to come to the U.S? Because they have no case.
Bring him back. Let him stand before the bar of justice.
He would haven't wanted no less for those who killed his wife (Manson group) if they would have fled. Of course, he had the resources. They did not.
He molested a 13 year old girl who didn't give consent (as if a 13 year old is capable of giving consent) to the sexual penetration. He was convicted and is a fugitive from justice. Bring him back!

Funny how all these comments are all absent of the case facts.

Good . As officers of the court they have a duty to justice . hehehehehehe .

OK - how does accusing the judge of making a mistake exonerate Polanski from allegedly giving a quaalude to a 13 year old, and then having anal sex with her?

I'm glad they arrested him, and I hope they extradite him.

Nice work on his own lawyers part to punt the ball to the opposing team, too. I guess that's what it took.

I am disgusted by the people who are defending Roman Polanski. This is a peadophile who raped a 13-year-old girl. Just because he's a talented director doesn't mean he should get away with his crime.
Rape is rape, no matter who prepetrates the crime.

Leave it to the crack LA District Attorney's Office to continue to pursue a 30-year-old crime that NOBODY cares about including the victim of the crime - who has petitioned the court to drop the case. Way to go DA's office! You got your man!! It's not like there are any of the more pressing issues you should be concentrating your time and resources on in Los Angeles - like drugs, gang warfare, corporate malfeasance, abuse towards minorities and immigrants, murder....

i say this to those who feel that this is a "waste of money or a gross injustice" to prosecute polanski .

what if it was your child that was drugged and raped ? no one is about the law .

scary americans ! how about scary frenchmen who condone this despicable act perpetrated on a 13 yr old.

This is all calculated so that he can return to Hollywood. Don't be naive and think he will have to serve for his crime. He's Jewish.

Let's not forget that Polanski was charged (not the legal version) with the underage sex with Natassia Kinski when she was about 16 or 17 years old. As with any pedaphile you have to wonder how many didn't bring charges or the local law community refused to indict. Yes, he did admit to the sex with Kinski as well.

finally justice has arrived for polanski! once a pedophile always a pedophile!

If the world is comfortable tracking down and prosecuting Nazi war criminals, years after commission of acts the world has deemed a crime, why are so many uncomfortable tracking down Roman Polanski who committed a vile crime?

You know what, if putting a child molester behind bars hurts our standing with foreign countries, I'm not so sure we want good relations with them.

In criminal cases, the state decides if and when to prosecute the crime, NOT THE VICTIM. That's why criminal cases are titled "The State of California" vs. "John Doe"... As for if there is a political motive behind this, it doesn't change the fact that a 13 year old girl was drugged and raped. I wonder if all the people treating what this child molester has done as nothing more than some traffic ticket would feel the same if this sexual pervert drugged and raped their 13 year old daughter, and then listen to their daughter later defend her rapist. The prosecution called the defense lawyers' bluff, and now they are shocked and outraged. This animal's crimes doesn't really shock me, but the reactions of some people, especially European politicians and artists praising this pedophile is what really shocks me.

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