Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Schwarzenegger: Roman Polanski talented but should get no special treatment

October 2, 2009 |  7:35 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said director Roman Polanski should be "treated like everyone else" and is not due any special status.

The governor said he respects Polanski's work, but it should not be a factor in the case of his sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl 30 years ago.

"It doesn't matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer. I think that he is a very respected person, and I am a big admirer of his work," he told CNN. "But nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations but the allegations about his case. Was there something done wrong? You know, was injustice done in the case?"

Polanski, now 76, fled Los Angeles on the eve of his 1978 sentencing after he admitted to having sex with the girl. As part of a 1977 plea deal, the director pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor while prosecutors promised to drop rape, sodomy and other charges after sentencing. A judge was to determine Polanski's sentence.

Los Angeles County's top prosecutor responded to criticism from Polanski's supporters over his office's pursuit of the case, saying fugitives must be brought to justice and that the famed director committed a crime.

"It's about completing justice," Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said. "Justice is not complete when someone leaves the jurisdiction of the court."

Cooley took issue with attempts to minimize Polanski's admission that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl, particularly movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's recent description of the offense as a "so-called crime."

"Mr. Polanski pled guilty to a crime, so apparently Mr. Polanski believes there's a crime," Cooley said. "There are still five or six other much more serious charges pending that have yet to be resolved."

Cooley declined to talk about how his office intends to handle the 30-year-old case should Polanski be extradited to the United States from Switzerland, where he was arrested over the weekend. Under California law, the state will pick up the county's costs associated with extradition.

-- Shelby Grad and Jack Leonard