In 1977 Polish-born filmmaker and Academy Award winner Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, and then fled the United States before he could be sentenced. For three decades he has lived as a fugitive under the protection of the French government. But finally, on Saturday, September 26, the 76-year-old was arrested by the Swiss police after flying in to - ironically - receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival.
Disturbingly, some are up in arms, claiming that - even though Polanski performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on a frightened girl he had plied with Champagne and a Quaalude - the incident should be forgotten. One such person is Tom O'Neill, the senior editor of In Touch Weekly. On September 28, during a CNN interview, O'Neill first claimed that Polanski "seduced" the young girl when it's obvious after reading her grand jury testimony that she was raped. Also, during that same interview, O'Neil argued that Polanski shouldn't be extradited to the U.S. for a trial, saying:
It's mind boggling why they're still pursuing this. I thought back in 2003 this was pretty much resolved when he was trying to get to Hollywood for the Oscars; his, uh, victim publicly went on Larry King and forgave him. It looked like a deal may have even been worked out with the courts behind the scenes, but he didn't pursue it. Then in 2005 an international warrant for his arrest was issued, which is different than just an American-based one. And we found out this case is still going on. And now this arrest at, uh, Zurich. It just seems that the prosecutors in Los Angeles won't let go these many years later.
O'Neill, immersed in the world of celebrity gossip, can't believe the law would hold a celebrity to the same standards as regular people. But Polanski is finally facing the consequences of raping a young girl. All his fame, his Oscars and his wealth don't override the law. Nor do the intervening decades or his victim's reported forgiveness.