Law in Popular Culture

Roman Polanski Documentary Puts New Spin on Child Sex Crime

More than 30 years after movie director Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl and then fled the U.S. when an initial plea bargain wasn’t honored, a controversial new documentary is portraying him as, at least to some extent, a victim of injustice.

Although there is no question that Polanski committed a sex crime, “the documentary is sure to renew calls for the director’s arrest warrant to be quashed so that he can return to America,” reports the London Times. That’s because the documentary, which was shown at this year’s Sundance film festival, depicts widespread agreement on the part of subjects including even the victim, now 45, and lawyers looking out for her interests that an indeterminate sentence of up to 50 years in prison was too harsh a punishment for Polanski, according to the newspaper.

As the New York Times writes, in an earlier review of the film, “Mr. Polanski survived the Holocaust and the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson. It was the American legal system that almost did him in.”

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