Will Los Angeles DA Give Up Polanski Fight?

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/128495087/128495068" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

Now that Swiss authorities have refused to extradite director Roman Polanski to Los Angeles, the three-decade legal battle may be all but dead. Polanski is once again a free man, so long as he doesn't return to the U.S. or visit some country willing to arrest him on a Los Angeles warrant. But will the L.A. County D.A. finally give up the fight to try Polanski for forcing sex on a minor?

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The woman who was Roman Polanski's teenage victim says enough's enough. She wants to move on with her life and she hopes that officials in Los Angeles will finally stop trying to bring him back to the U.S. in a sex case that is now more than three decades old.

Yesterday, Swiss authorities refused to extradite the Oscar-winning director to California. The question is: where do L.A. authorities and Polanski go from here?

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has our story.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: The ankle monitor has been deactivated, the chalet that served as his elegant prison during a seven-month house arrest is empty, and Roman Polanski is once again a free man, at least in the eyes of Swiss authorities.

But the D.A.'s office in Los Angeles hasn't given up the idea that Polanski will someday wind up in custody in a country thats willing to extradite him.

Ms. NIKKI FINKE (Editor, DeadlineHollywood.com): This creates a situation where Polanski's career will only now go so far.

BATES: Nikki Finke, editor of DeadlineHollywood.com, says Polanski still has to watch where he goes and look over his shoulder.

Ms. FINKE: Yes, hes won an Oscar recently, but he will never be a true Hollywood filmmaker if he can't freely go from country to country or even work in this country.

BATES: It's why Polanski was a no-show back in 2003, when he won the Best Director Academy Award for "The Pianist."

(Soundbite of music)

BATES: As far as Steve Cooley, L.A. County's district attorney, is concerned, Polanski is still a wanted man, and this week's setback with Swiss authorities has changed nothing.

Ms. SUSAN ESTRICH (Law Professor, University of Southern California): This is not a minor crime. This is not an instance where no harm was done. Harm was done.

BATES: Susan Estrich, a law professor at the University of Southern California, says Cooley's team had a hard but necessary task.

Ms. ESTRICH: They tried to stand up for the principle that no one is above the law, and the fact that that's not the rule in Switzerland doesn't mean it's not the rule that should be pursued here.

BATES: As a fugitive, Polanski has outlasted many of the players in the case. The judge who presided over it, perhaps improperly, is dead. Both the former prosecutor and Polanski's original defense attorney are elderly and frail.

Polanski himself is 76. Both his victim and his admirers say enough, let the case just fade away. But that's not likely to happen. Polanski may get back to making the kinds of films that caused so many to regard him as a genius.

(Soundbite of film, "Chinatown")

(Soundbite of gunshots)

(Soundbite of car horn)

(Soundbite of crying)

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) Go home, Jake.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.

(Soundbite of music)

BATES: But he'll always have to choose his locations carefully, which means that yesterday probably wasn't the finale to the Polanski opera but just an intermission.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.