Critic cites documentary for Polanski arrest

September 28, 2009 7:38:42 PM PDT
Film director Roman Polanski faces extradition to the U.S. for a crime he committed more than 30 years ago. Polanski was arrested in Switzerland over the weekend -- a country he had visited several times before, leaving many people asking "why now?"

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Film critic Ruby Rich believes the 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired is behind his arrest.

"That documentary really showed how outrageous the prosecution of Polanski was; lots of judicial misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct," Rich said.

In 1977, Polanski was arrested for raping a 13-year-old at the Los Angeles home of actor and friend Jack Nicholson.

Polanski later made a deal with prosecutors pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He served 42 days in a mental hospital.

"Forty-two days under observation, taking psychiatric tests to determine if he were a sex criminal who was going to be dangerous to society," Rich said.

But the judge changed his mind about the plea deal and before his next court hearing, Polanski left the U.S., moving to France. Until now he had avoided arrest and extradition.

After the documentary, Polanski's attorney requested the charges be dropped. That request was turned down.

"I suspect that that attempt backfired and instead of calming the waters and getting the whole thing behind him that instead it must have inflamed the DA's office," Rich said.

The current L.A. district attorney worked there in 1977 when Polanski was arrested.

"Until you're ultimately sentenced in a court of law, there is no justice," DA Steve Cooley said.

The victim in this case is now 45 years old. She has formally forgiven Polanski and filed a request to drop the charges against him.

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