Roman Polanski Issues A Public Statement On His Extradition


Convicted felon Roman Polanski, currently seeking refuge from the law in Switzerland, has issued an official public statement in regards to the push by the United States to have him extradited back to this country so that he can finally answer for his crimes and face punishment for his 1977 conviction of child rape. Breaking his silence for the first time, Polanski is seeking to tell his side of the story because he believes the case against him is based on lies. Here are excerpts of Roman Polanski’s official statement:

Ending a long silence, Roman Polanski addressed his possible extradition to the United States over a 33-year-old sex-crime case with a statement that accused authorities here of “trying to serve me on a platter to the media of the world,” instead of honoring what he described as an agreement, made decades ago, to limit his punishment to time already served. “I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words,” Mr. Polanski said in the statement, which was distributed to the news media on Sunday. The 908-word statement was circulated by Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is a friend of Mr. Polanski’s and the director of the French magazine La Règle du Jeu. Mr. Polanski, the Oscar-winning director whose films include “The Pianist” and “Chinatown,” was arrested in Switzerland on Sept. 26. He has since been held pending possible extradition for sentencing in the case that stemmed from his arrest in 1977 after having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Charged with various offenses, including rape, Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor. He spent 42 days in a California state prison during a psychiatric evaluation, but fled the country before final sentencing by Judge Laurence J. Rittenband. Mr. Polanski’s lawyers have argued in court that Judge Rittenband, who died in 1993, committed improprieties in the case and had promised that the psychiatric evaluation would be Mr. Polanski’s entire sentence. Prosecutors and a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge have insisted that Mr. Polanski cannot pursue his claims until he returns to the United States. But Mr. Polanski’s lawyers have argued that an extradition request sent to Swiss authorities concealed facts that would show that he does not qualify for extradition. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has strongly disputed that claim. The Los Angeles court has scheduled a hearing for next Monday on an effort by Mr. Polanski to unseal recent testimony in which, Mr. Polanski’s lawyers say, the prosecutor who handled his case, Roger Gunson, describes Judge Rittenband’s misconduct and intended limits on the sentence. “I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie,” Mr. Polanski wrote in the statement. Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said that because the matter was pending before the Swiss courts, “we will withhold comment until the Swiss make a decision on his fugitive status.”

I, personally, feel no sympathy for Polanski in the least. The fact that he plead guilty to child rape is heinous enough but that he would have the gall to flee the country before sentencing because he believed the terms of his punishment would be changed against his will (a convicted felon, mind you) and then spend the next few decades hiding out seems proof to me of his absolute guilt. I’m of the mind that the man needs to be hauled back to court here in the US and rightfully punished for his crimes. It just seems so clear to me. After the jump, if you have the inclination (and the stomach) you can read the full text of Polanski’s official statement (be warned, it’s a 4-pager) …

I can remain silent no longer!

Throughout my seven months since September 26, 2009, the date of my arrest at Zurich Airport, where I had landed with a view to receiving a lifetime award for my work from the representative of the Swiss Minister of Culture, I have refrained from making any public statements and have requested my lawyers to confine their comments to a bare minimum. I wanted the legal authorities of Switzerland and the United States, as well as my lawyers, to do their work without any polemics on my part.

I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words. I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else.

It is true: 33 years ago I pleaded guilty, and I served time at the prison for common law crimes at Chino, not in a VIP prison. That period was to have covered the totality of my sentence. By the time I left prison, the judge had changed his mind and claimed that the time served at Chino did not fulfil the entire sentence, and it is this reversal that justified my leaving the United States.

This affair was roused from its slumbers of over three decades by a documentary film-maker who gathered evidence from persons involved at the time. I took no part in that project, either directly or indirectly. The resulting documentary not only highlighted the fact that I left the United States because I had been treated unjustly; it also drew the ire of the Los Angeles authorities, who felt that they had been attacked and decided to request my extradition from Switzerland, a country I have been visiting regularly for over 30 years without let or hindrance.

I can now remain silent no longer!

I can remain silent no longer because the American authorities have just decided, in defiance of all the arguments and depositions submitted by third parties, not to agree to sentence me in absentia even though the same Court of Appeal recommended the contrary.

I can remain silent no longer because the California court has dismissed the victim’s numerous requests that proceedings against me be dropped, once and for all, to spare her from further harassment every time this affair is raised once more.

I can remain silent no longer because there has just been a new development of immense significance. On February 26 last, Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney in charge of the case in 1977, now retired, testified under oath before Judge Mary Lou Villar in the presence of David Walgren, the present deputy district attorney in charge of the case, who was at liberty to contradict and question him, that on September 16, 1977, Judge Rittenband stated to all the parties concerned that my term of imprisonment in Chino constituted the totality of the sentence I would have to serve.

I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie. In the same statement, retired deputy district attorney Roger Gunson added that it was false to claim, as the present district attorney’s office does in their request for my extradition, that the time I spent in Chino was for the purpose of a diagnostic study.

The said request asserts that I fled in order to escape sentencing by the U.S. judicial authorities, but under the plea-bargaining process I had acknowledged the facts and returned to the United States in order to serve my sentence. All that remained was for the court to confirm this agreement, but the judge decided to repudiate it in order to gain himself some publicity at my expense.

I can remain silent no longer because for over 30 years my lawyers have never ceased to insist that I was betrayed by the judge, that the judge perjured himself, and that I served my sentence. Today it is the deputy district attorney who handled the case in the 1970s, a man of irreproachable reputation, who has confirmed all my statements under oath, and this has shed a whole new light on the matter.

I can remain silent no longer because the same causes are now producing the same effects. The new District Attorney, who is handling this case and has requested my extradition, is himself campaigning for election and needs media publicity!

I can no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago.

I can remain silent no longer because I have been placed under house arrest in Gstaad and bailed in very large sum of money which I have managed to raise only by mortgaging the apartment that has been my home for over 30 years, and because I am far from my family and unable to work.

Such are the facts I wished to put before you in the hope that Switzerland will recognize that there are no grounds for extradition, and that I shall be able to find peace, be reunited with my family, and live in freedom in my native land.

In my estimation no letters, no sternly worded explanations can overshadow the fact that this man is guilty, by his own admission, of heinous crimes and should be brought before the court for rightful sentencing. If he believes he is being treated unjustly, then he has to go thru the proper legal channels just like anyone else. Until this man is brought to final justice, I cannot support his ludicrous claims of being treated unjustly. Pay for your crimes, Polanski.


  • frisa

    He is a fugitive and needs to be brought to justice for his crimes. This crap about being treated unjustly….ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!??? He fled because he was guilty and felt he was above the law because he was some famous movie director. It shocks me that people continue to stand by his side KNOWING what he did to that child. Maybe people would think differently if it were their mother/sister/daughter. Sicko!

  • jamie-o

    what were the chances he was going to be all “yay! extradition!”?

  • SuziLee

    He’s really pathetic. It was bad enough what he did but running away and flee’ing the way he did is just wrong. He should’ve just faced up to what he did and been done with it. This would be a non-issue by now and he’d probably be long past it the way people seem to forgive & forget….but it’s still an issue the longer he doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. Yes it’s sad that he lost his wife and unborn child – but – no excuse for what he did.

  • Hannah

    I fully believe that he should be brought back and serve his time. He plead guilty and should be punished it is as simple as that.

  • Denise

    The fact that he’s Roman Polanski (BFD) should not matter. He needs to do his time just like anyone else.

  • brenda

    He pled guilty. He fled the country. End of story.

  • Janelle

    Its disgusting that even prestigious actors feel he is exempt from punishment . No matter your skill in a trade, you are not above anyone else or the law. ..I.. Right here, Polanski.

  • If he wants to be treated like ‘anyone else’, then it shouldn’t matter that he made movies, ‘anyone else’ that was convicted of a crime, and fled the country would be wanted as a fugitive.
    Plain and simple.
    What he doesn’t mention, is the judge changed his mind when he was given photos of him partying with a bunch of 15 year olds /after/ he plead guilty to raping one. Poor Roman eh?

  • krissy

    1.) He gave the finger to the US justice system, so that deserves punishment.
    2.) Does he REALLY think that 42 days is the appropriate sentance for the crimes he pled guilty to? What if that was his daughter?

  • Holly

    He did the crime, he should do the crime. I think many of you forget the horror that Roman Polanski faced when his wife Sharon Tate and their unborn baby were slaughtered by Charles Manson’s clan. I can give him some sympathy for THAT.

  • Holly

    whoops! I meant that he should do the “time!”

  • janet

    He makes me sick and angry. I don’t understand why hollywood still wants to have anything to do with him. I want to say shame on all the countries that want him to be pardon like france. There advocating child pedophile’s by doing so. This coward did the crime and should do the time. I hope he gets adding to the child’s pedophile list

  • LizzieMay

    That’s so disgusting. I think the worst part is when he suggests that it’s unfair to the victim because this drags it out and she’s harassed by the media. Roman, you know what could have made this better for the victim, if you hadn’t drugged and raped her?

    He’s the one who is dragging this out. He’s the one who is unfairly causing the victim to not have closure on this matter. He’s the asshole here and yet he blames everyone except himself. He’s vile and the people who support him need to have their brains examined.

  • whotheheckami

    Couldn’t say it any better, LizzieMay. He could have long put this behind him. Instead he chooses to evade. His day is coming though.

  • rtms

    The fact that he cites dubious judicial conduct on the Judge is no reason for him to think he’s above the law. The US has due process and if he or his attorney’s thought something was wrong they should have appealed the decision and tried for a mistrial. Which is what will happen anyway. Which he doesn’t want because then he could be charged with all six counts including rape. These days he wouldn’t get to the court house alive with her testimony as it is.

    He just doesn’t get it, if he had just appealed at the time, he could have stayed out jail on bail, and it may have even be overturned etc. He basically screwed himself by doing this shit and I hope the US courts call him on it and punish him.

  • NicM

    I found this article from Sept 2009-


    He does have a valid point as far as his victim is concerned and for her family. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to tell her children about what happened and explain to them why media is hounding her. I would say keep him out of the country, we have way too many dirty rats here already. Besides does anyone live in CA and have to deal with the judicial system here, I am not surprised that such a media hungry case was butchered.

  • Katie

    I think it’s disgusting that he’s using his victim in his argument against extradition, like he’s actually doing this for her benefit. If he wanted to do right by this girl, then maybe he shouldn’t have drugged and raped her in the first place. I also love that in the middle of this statement addressing his crimes and imprisonment he finds a way to mention his lifetime achievement award. He clearly has absolutely no remorse for what he did.

  • truthyisalways

    I was horrified by all the stars who came out in defense, many of them parents, and parents of girls. The list includes Woody Allen (bah!), Pedro “friend to women” Almadovar, Martin Scorsese (I guess if Domenica is raped by a famous director you’re cool with it, right Marty? )..even Emma Thompson, who later asked to be removed after her fans pointed out that her speaking out on sex trafficking made her support of a convicted rapist look like “as long as he’s famous” logic. Shame.

  • Lily

    I am a firm believer that if the victim does not want to continue to press charges, the matter should be left alone. Also, if it is in fact true that an agreement was reached and Polanski fulfilled his side of the arangement, it is wrong to continue to seek him out. This ought to have nothing to do with celebrity status. It is only that he is a celebrity that we are hearing so much about his.

    I would honestly flee the US legal system after witnessing some of it’s major rullings. The abhorent racism in criminal cases, the use of high-priced laywers to confuse cases to the point of dismissal… OJ Simpson…

    Really… Let the family be. I’m not one to condone rape of a minor in any situation, but respect the family’s wishes in this case! This really seems like a like an attempt to garnish publicity by the prosecutors, and that, like much of the unfortunate recent developments in the American legal system (inculding it’s system of dealing with homeland security issues) serve only to confuse and distract the populace in general.

    I think it is far more imprtant for the States right now to focus on dealing with current criminal cases fairly, and justly, ensuring that such ‘deals’ that are seen as innapropriately short or unfair sentences never happen rather than trying to change a past possible mistake. Learning from a mistake is far more important than trying to correct one, when even the victim is no loger interested in doing so.

    That’s all… Fix the system. Don’t renege.

    • @Lily — I vehemently disagree. The fact that the victim now no longer wants to press charges is irrelevant because he was convicted years ago, decades ago — a conviction is a conviction. I find it outrageous to advocate the belief that a convicted felon under the illusion that he “fulfilled his side of the arrangement” should be allowed to flee the country. Outrageous. He is a criminal and should be punished to the full extent of the law. Period.

  • Trent, I have been following your blog for years. I’m disappointed that you and many of your readers have this point of view about Polanski. What Polanski did was wrong, surely, but his crime really needs to be considered within the context of its time, and not by today’s standards. Most life sentences are not so long as the time that already has elapsed. Polanski has been punished enough. xo’s

  • Anna

    Juli, how has Polanski been punished enough? He raped a young girl (and drugged her) and only served a little over a month time for it!

    I don’t know why all of this is taking so much time though. Just fly him to the US, sentence him and be done. Shouldn’t take more than a week or so.

  • martooha

    Anna, I think that Juli says about Polanski’s first wife, who was murdered, carrying his baby. A lot of people think now that he suffered enough in his life, but to me these two cases shouldn’t be associated.

  • jjj22

    I found this one quite a difficult one.

    Firstly i felt sympathy for him and maybe that the girl was very sexually developed etc, but after you read the evidence it then looks really bad.

    I then I thought, like others here, well ok he had a tough life, parent in concentration camp, wife murdered, has new wife and child etc etc but does that excuse what he did?

    no it doesn’t and he’s got to pay for it. I agree with those above that if he felt badly treated by the judge he could have used normal legal means to challenge it at the time.

    Also if Rittenband the judge saw photos of him partying with more fifteen year olds afterwards, as suggested above, not surprising he saw red..