The XX Factor

Roman Polanski Is Free

The Swiss have freed Roman Polanski instead of extraditing him to the United States for trial for the 1977 alleged sexual assault of then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer. Why? Because of the legal murk that’s engulfed this case for more than 30 years. The Swiss wouldn’t send Polanski because the United States wouldn’t release secret documents that explain what the judge overseeing the case back in 1977 was doing when he supposedly told the parties that Polanski could do 42 days in a psych ward, and no more. Was that part of the terms of Polanski’s plea bargain at the time, or just a condition to be met before formal sentencing? Did judicial misconduct take place? Or as Los Angeles prosecutors argue , did Polanski just panic and flee, assuming he’d never be called to account? Now we may never know.

Polanski wins. Los Angeles D.A. Steve Cooley, who is running for California attorney general, loses. Maybe Geimer will finally get some peace. She has said that she ” got over it long ago ” and just wants the case to go away. And yet we’re also left with this unavoidable resolution: A man who allegedly plied a young girl with drugs and alcohol and then forced her to have sex-and was prosecuted for it-did only six weeks time, not even in jail.

Photograph of Roman Polanski by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.