When is rape not rape? That question has been debated for decades, but there seems to be at least one answer that is apparent: when it is committed by a Hollywood film director… or at least in Europe. As of this afternoon, Swiss officials have turned Roman Polanski loose. Needless to say, the Los Angeles District Attorney was disappointed.
Roman Polanski is now a free man. Switzerland rejected a U.S. request to extradite him to be sentenced. The Swiss officials stated that U.S. authorities failed to address defense arguments that Polanski had served his sentence before fleeing the U.S. three decades ago. Switzerland only rejects about 5 percent of the 200 extradition requests it handles annually. So I guess an Oscar-winning film director is special.
In case you forgot the facts… 44-year-old Roman Polanski poured his 13-year-old victim champagne and gave her a Quaalude during a 1977 modeling shoot, and then he raped her. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy. He also pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse, for which the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence him to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. He was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again. The judge then said he was going to send Polanski back to jail to serve out the remainder of the 90-day sentence. Polanski then fled the U.S. on the eve of his Feb. 1, 1978, sentencing.
The decision might just mean the end the United States’ long pursuit of Polanski (and justice). France, where he has spent much of his time, does not extradite its own citizens and Polanski has had no trouble traveling throughout Europe — even if he’s stayed away from Britain.
The Swiss officials said this decision was not about deciding whether he is guilty or not guilty of a crime, but that extradition had to be rejected due to persisting doubts concerning the facts.