Roman Polanski, the 76-year-old Oscar-winning director who was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson's house in California in 1977, will not be extradited to the U.S.
Polanski fled the United States after pleading guilty to having sex with the girl. He had originally been sentenced to 90 days of "diagnostic study," but when the judge decided to change his sentence, he ran, and has remained in Europe living the high life and directing films, such as The Pianist, ever since.
Polanski was finally taken into custody in September 2009 when he arrived in Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival, and has been held under house arrest in Gstaad, Switzerland, for several months.
The Swiss ministry gave two reasons for denying the extradition request:
"The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA. The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked. This announcement was made by Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), in Berne on Monday. The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined. Moreover, also the principles of State action deriving from international public order were taken into account.
"At the end of 2005 the US authorities issued an international search warrant against Roman Polanski due to sexual offence against a minor committed in 1977. On the basis of this international order of arrest, Roman Polanski was arrested on 26th September 2009 upon his arrival at the airport of Zürich and taken into provisional custody pending extradition. On 22nd October 2009 the US authorities filed a formal extradition request. On 4th December Roman Polanski was released from custody after depositing a 4.5 million franc bail and was granted house arrest under electronic monitoring in his chalet in Gstaad."
Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, now 45 and a mother of three, says she's gotten over the rape. In 1997, she filed a formal request that Los Angeles prosecutors drop the charges against him: "I have survived, indeed prevailed, against whatever harm Mr. Polanski may have caused me as a child. I got over it a long time ago."
In 2003, she wrote an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, "Judge the Movie, Not the Man," saying Polanski should not be barred from receiving a Best Director Oscar. "I don't really have any hard feelings toward him, or any sympathy, either. He is a stranger to me," she wrote.
Many celebrities continued to support Roman Polanski: Woody Allen (no surprise there), Martin Scorsese, Penelope Cruz, Monica Bellucci, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Weinstein, and Whoopi Goldberg (who said on The View that what Polanski did "wasn't rape-rape"). They and hundreds of others in Hollywood signed a petition for his release and rallied against his extradition to the U.S.
While Geimer and some of Hollywood were forgiving, others were not.
Celebrities who spoke out against Polanski and thought he should be punished for his crime include Kirstie Alley, Joy Behar, Luc Besson, Jamie Foxx, Jewel, Emma Thompson (who had originally signed the petition supporting him), Kevin Smith, and many more.
And in May of this year, Charlotte Lewis, a British actress, claimed that she was also sexually abused by director Roman Polanski in his Paris apartment when she was 16. She said Polanski abused her "in the worst possible way" sometime in the 1980s.
Lewis hired attorney Gloria Allred and met with Los Angeles prosecutors, saying she came forward because she heard that Polanski was fighting extradition to the United States and "that his legal team is portraying his previous offense against a minor as an isolated instance."
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Roman Polanski will be in L.A. any time soon.
Image via Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty