Famed director Roman Polanski was taken into custody late Saturday night in Zurich, Switzerland in response to a 31-year-old U.S. arrest warrant against him. The Polish-born movie maker had entered the country in order to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival later today.
The 76-year-old was arrested in the United States in 1977, accused of raping a 13-year-old girl after giving her alcohol and drugs at the home of actor Jack Nicholson, where he was photographing her during a modeling session. In a plea bargain, he was allowed to plead guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse and was sent to a medical prison facility for 42 days of evaluation.
The judge had a change of heart and it looked like Polanski would receive a prison sentence and then be deported. He fled to France and has spent the past three decades there. With no extradition treaty in place between the U.S. and France, Polanski was free to continue making movies, including The Pianist in 2002, which earned him an Oscar in absentia.
Polanski attempted to get the long standing charges dropped in a petition to the Los Angeles court system last year - details and photos here. His lawyers provided the court with an affidavit signed by the victim, 45-year-old Samantha Geimer, requesting that the court drop all charges against the director. She reportedly received an undisclosed settlement from the director years ago and was satisfied that justice had been served. The U.S. court system denied Polanski's request.
Polanski's actress wife Sharon Tate was murdered in Hollywood in 1969 along with four other people at the hands of Charles Manson followers - photos and story here.
View photos of Polanski's victim Samantha Gailey at age 13 and in a current photo - click to expand.