CNN reports that controversial Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested Sunday morning by Swiss officials as he was trying to enter the country to attend the Zurich Film Festival.
Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He has lived in France since then, avoiding extradition on a warrant that was issued for his arrest shortly after his flight.
The arrest took place at the request of U.S. authorities in anticipation of Polanski attending the festival, which was holding a tribute event in his honor. He is currently being held pending an extradition hearing.
Polanski was accused of giving 13-year-old Samantha Geimer drugs and alcohol before “performing various sex acts, including intercourse” with her during a photo shoot. Though he pleaded guilty to the charges, Polanski was never sentenced. There has been discussion over the years as to the validity of the charges, whether or not proper procedures were followed, and whether or not the charges should be dropped.
Geimer herself is among many who have called for the charges to be dropped. She has been quoted as saying:
I am no longer a 13-year-old child. I have dealt with the difficulties of being a victim, have surmounted and surpassed them with one exception. Every time this case is brought to the attention of the Court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others. That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of the case.
Polanski is best known for his writing and directing roles in Academy Award-winning films like Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, and The Pianist. He declined to receive his Oscar for The Pianist in person because of the warrant still out for his arrest in America.