Oct 02, 2009

Roman Polanski- The US should recall its arrest warrant.

Roman Polanski, the famous film director, pled guilty in 1977 in LA Superior Court to sexually violating 13 year old Samantha Gaimer.  He fled to Europe before Judge Lawrence Rittenband (now deceased) could hand down a sentence.  Polanski has been a public figure all over Europe, but he has never (officially) returned to the US.  Thus, Polanski's case has been in abeyance for 32 years.  For reasons that are not clear, a few days ago, in Sept. 2009, Switzerland decided to enforce a US warrant and arrested Polanski.  Switzerland now has to decide whether to extradite him to the US for sentencing.  The issue has created a worlwide furor.

Those who focus on Polanski's horrible criminal act do not want to reward him for avoiding capture and argue that justice delayed can still constitute justice.  Those who focus on the Judge Rittenband's alleged misconduct in meeting privately with a prosecutor and on the passage of time argue that Polanski has in effect already been sufficiently punished and that putting him in jail now would be a waste of time and money.

Since both arguments are reasonable, let's give Samantha Geimer the last word.  She's been saying for years that she's put the case behind her and that she does not want Polanski to go to jail.  If Ms. Geimer were still a minor, or if she were in psychological disarray as a result of the crime, perhaps we could discount her opinion. But she's made a mature and considered judgment, and we ought to respect her autonomy.  Under the circumstances, we should not be angrier at Polanski than is the woman who he abused.  The US should recall the arrest warrant and provide Switzerland with a graceful exit from a no-win situation.