Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Children's Advocate Decries Roman Polanski Release

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Children's Advocate Decries Roman Polanski Release

Article excerpt

A Swiss judge's decision not to extradite director Roman Polanski to the US is 'disturbing,' says a leading children's advocate. The filmmaker had faced sentencing in a 1977 child sex case.

A leading advocate for missing and exploited children says a Swiss judge's decision not to extradite film director Roman Polanski is "disturbing."

"Our concern is that it's very important that no one appear to be above the law," says Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington.

Mr. Allen fears that the opportunity to arrest and sentence Mr. Polanski is gone. "My suspicion is that Polanski will very quickly return to France, where the options for prosecution will be minimal, if any. This window is closed."

Press reports are that Polanski immediately left his Swiss chalet where he had been under house arrest.

The next step for the US, if there is one, would be up to the prosecutor in Los Angeles, where the original case was tried in 1977, and the US Justice Department, whose Office of International Affairs pursued Polanski, who fled the country prior to sentencing.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said in a statement issued Monday that US believes its request to extradite Polanski was supported by the evidence, met the requirements of the extradition treaty, and involved a serious offense. "We are very disappointed in the decision of the Swiss Government," stated Ms. Sweeney.

The government, she added, has no comment on whether it will appeal the decision, nor any comment on any future actions to try to extradite Polanski.

In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor. However, says Allen, grand jury testimony showed he seduced a 13- year-old girl, used alcohol and drugs to lower her inhibitions, and then had sex with her. "Part of the defense has been that the sex was consensual," says Allen. …

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