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Q & A: The Roman Polanski case. Why now?

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(Read caption) File photo of film director Roman Polanski presenting his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Oberhausen September 29, 2008. Polanski was arrested on his arrival in Switzerland September 26, 2009, at the request of U.S. authorities for a 1978 warrant. He was due to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival today.

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As an editor, and a father, here are some of the questions I'd like answered about award-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland this weekend. I've done some digging, but there's more to do.

What's the expiration date on a statutory rape conviction?

In 1977, Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault of a minor. He drugged and had sex with a 13-year old girl. A Los Angeles judge sent him to 42 days in prison while he had psychological testing – and waited for his sentence. On the eve of his actual sentencing, Polanski heard from his lawyers that the judge was considering sentencing him to another 48 days in prison – maybe longer. So, Polanski jumped bail, and fled to France.

48 days for rape?

The average sentence imposed in a US federal rape case was 124 months (more 10 years) according to a 1993 study for Congress. The average statutory rape conviction: 37 months (3 years).

Isn't 30 years as a fugitive – unable to travel to the US – punishment enough?

The Zurich Film Festival jury thinks so. They put on red badges that said "Free Polanski" and held a press conference seeking his release.


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