There are several lessons to be gleaned from Roman Polanski’s 33-year-long sex case that apparently ended Monday when Swiss authorities refused to extradite the movie director to the United States.
One is that if you’re going to drug and rape a 13-year-old girl, as Polanski was accused of doing in Los Angeles in 1977, it pays to be a wealthy movie director.
Charges of rape and sodomy were dismissed against Polanski when he agreed to plead guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, during which he was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
It’s hard to imagine Joe Sixpack receiving the same sort of plea deal after being accused of a similar crime.
Then a jail official released Polanski after he had served only 42 days. When the judge demanded he return to court, he instead fled to France, where he has lived comfortably ever since. At least he did until last year. He was arrested when he traveled to Switzerland, where he was held pending possible extradition.
And therein lies the second lesson. If you want to extradite someone from a country friendly to the United States, you ought to be able to prove what has occurred with that person’s sentence.
The Swiss judge who handled the extradition proceedings said that because U.S. officials refused to release records of a confidential court hearing involving a former prosecutor on the Polanski case, it was impossible to determine whether he had fully served the sentence handed down by the court in 1978.
Justice wasn’t served in the Roman Polanski case. But the injustice began long before the Swiss decided not to approve extradition for the film director.