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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)

Well as the hollywood story goes this girls mother was pimping her around and Roman was the last of the big time stars to have her. If hes guilty then her mom should get the electric chair and thats the rumors i heard.

Those who know the true facts about this case know Polanski was tricked into pleading guilty by a judge guilty of gross misconduct. Even DA Cooley knows the facts. Looks to me like Cooley intends to run to Governor and is looking for some media attention!

Is everyone forgetting....Polanski, a 44 year old man, CONFESSED to the RAPE (oral, vaginal and sodomy) of a 13 year old child, after coaxing and intimidating her in to getting drunk (on Champagne) and giving her drugs (half a tablet of Qualude). These are not allegations, he has confessed to them. He then was not man enough to face punishment but fled like a common criminal. A 40 yr old Paedophile who intoxicates and sodomizes a 13 yr old child....everyone rising to his defense should have their heads examined.

you can see the liberal minds accusing the little girl of seducing the poor man. you can feel the European admiration of rape and sodomy....what a bottom of scum America has become

There is no doubt that Polanski has sex with the girl, however today she does not want to prosecute. Given the economics of California it seems that spending money on continuing this saga is not money well spent. Does the LA District Attorny lack important cases to prosecute or is it just looking for publicity.

We extradite Nazis whose crimes were committed over 60 years ago. Why shouldn't Polanski have to face justice in the same manner?

good thing it all just took about 32 years now put him were he belongs

This is ridiculous. Polanski is a very important celebrity, and has had to put up with this trivial pursuit of his honor for years. Hasn't he paid any debt due to society by now? The purported victim has been paid. Everyone should just grow up and move into the 21st century. After all, it was only sex after drugging a girl barely into her teens. Happens all the time. What's the big deal? Get over it.

So let me get this straight, Poland just approved a law in which "pedophiles convicted of raping children under the age of 15 years or a close relative would have to undergo 'chemical castration' on their release from prison." Yet they "demand" Polanski be released on bail (despite the fact he fled the last time?) What if he had done this to a 13 year old Polish girl? Would they follow their own laws or let him go because he is famous? If he had not fled on the first place then this wouldn't have been an issue. He brought this on himself and has no one else to blame.

I am really surprised that so many people do not think this man did anything wrong. Whether you assault a 13 year old in Thailand or here, most people consider that a crime...even if it was consentual. I am not saying that it was by any means but how would someone think that's ok? Is it because he is a famous director? Talent means you get a "Get out of Jail Free Card"? As far as just now being arrested, it sounds like his own legal team provoked it by having the audacity to try and make it go away. He plead guilty, he should do the time. Arrogance on his part in my opinion.

And so a man is caught 30 years after his crime. Drugging and raping a 13 year who is now in her 40's and wishes to discount the whole matter. Bad memories not wanting to re-live I guess. The jet set type people think he should be left alone. Hollywood stands and cheers when he receives his Academy in abstention. He is a artist. A movie maker. A director. Yet I cannot get it out of my mind that - a man - who was in his 40's no less (not some testosterone teenager) thought it be a good idea to get this girl drugged and place his, well what supposedly makes him a man, where ever it pleases him. Very artsy, don't you all think. Creative, talented. Something that all parents would not mind their daughters to go through. Especially with a famous person. not just your run of the mill creepy guy. Don't you think. Let's see if one of the, uh let's call them 'Let Roman Free people' or even the high placed politician will volunteer one of their 13 year old daughters to such a liberating and creative experience by a 40 ish year old man (Gotta be famous and creative, though). I think the problem here - beside my sarcasm - can the rich and powerful and very talented be allowed a nonchalant attitude towards their excesses and crimes. But - who am I - just a smoe who is not artsy, talented or famous.

"Maybe in France they believe in two systems of justice -- one for the rich and one for everyone else. But here we don't. "

OJ Simpson, anyone?

Why is he being arrested??? He drugged, sodomized, and raped a 13 year old GIRL (not a woman, a CHILD). It does not matter if it was 30 or 300 years ago, nor if the victim forgave him, under our code of laws and societal structure ( which the convicted had profited handsomely under) he is accountable to the people of the state of California. That the Europeans are indignant is a reminder of why we came here, so that the wealthy and powerful would be beholden to the same laws as the poor and weak.

if his lawyers would've kept their mouths shut he would still be free. the victim doesn't even want his charged though. his punishment is that he wants to come home and he can't. whaaaa. don't rape little girls freak - o.

I am disgusted and horrified by all of the actors that are defending Mr. Polanski! What would they have done if he would have raped them or one of their children? He is not the victim, the 13 year old that has had to live with this all of her life is! If he touched my daughter I would have followed him to france, and killed him myself!! Why are these actors and movie makers treated like gods? He needs to go to prison for the rest of his life!

Pervy Polanski arrested. Yeah! Let's not forget he gave that 13 yr. old girl champagne and part of a quaalude, then raped and sodomized her. His wife is 33 years younger than he. She was 23 when they married, he was 56. He obviously likes 'em young. If nothing comes of this, I'm glad his pervy past is disrupting his life. May it never cease.

This is interesting twist in the story and because of the lack of sincere outporings of supports here I, Viktor created special www.FreePolanski.tk site and facebooks groups to show SUPPORT for the Great Polanski, I thank you for article and time and MAY YOU SOAR LIKE EAGLES!

Thank goodness for Steve Lopez, once again the voice of reason. I, too, wonder what Polanski's supporters would think if it was their daughter that he had raped. A lot of people have tragic lives, but they don't rape children. There is no excuse for his disgusting behavior. I am amazed and appalled at the outpouring of support for Polanski, the perpetrator of this horrible attack on a child. The fact that he escaped justice for so long by hiding should not change the fact that he is guilty and deserves punishment.

Amazing that there are people who actually support pedophiles in this world. Make excuses for them and want their crimes overlooked. What type of parents are these people that support this type of action on kids. Seems that child protective services may want to check out the homes of such.

Yes his crime was serious and he should have been punished, however why was he not pursued until now? There are far more pressing issues facing our State today. Budget cuts for schools and parks, unemployment at 12%, etc... All of you who want to extradite him deserve to be unemployed and bankrupt. I guess only politicians are above the law, remember Chappaquiddick? Oh but in that case the victim died. Wake up America!

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