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The Schmooze

The U.S. Tried to Arrest Roman Polanski At Jewish Museum Opening

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The United States government still really wants to arrest director Roman Polanski —  and what better place to catch him than the Polish Jewish history museum?

Polanski, who was arrested (but never sentenced) for sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl in 1977, was attending the grand opening of Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw last Tuesday when U.S. authorities contacted Polish officials. The Holocaust survivor was questioned by police but not arrested.

“From the point of view of Polish history,” this attempt by the U.S. “showed absolute ignorance,” Tomasz Nalecz, an advisor to the Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, told the BBC.

Polanski’s mother was murdered in Auschwitz.

The U.S. first tried to extradite Polanski in Switzerland in 2009, 32 years after his alleged crime, while he was being given a tribute award at the Zurich Film Festival. He was arrested and held in a Swiss detention center for 67 days but he was eventually freed after he posted a bail of $4.5 million.

Polanski, who directed classic films such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” and the Oscar-winner “The Pianist,” was arrested in Los Angeles back in 1977 after he allegedly had sex with then 13-year old Samantha Gailey (now Samantha Geimer). The details of the case are still messy — and more than a little disturbing. During a probationary period, he fled to England to avoid a trial, and he has lived in Europe ever since.

In 2011, Polanski apologized for the act in the documentary, “Roman Polanski, A Film Memoir.” Geimer had already publicly forgiven Polanski and stated that having him come back to the U.S. for a trial would create a media circus that would make things worse.

The latest arrest attempt looks especially awkward as Polanski has been to Poland several times in recent years. In fact, his next movie, about the infamous 1894 Alfred Dreyfus affair (during which a French Jewish officer was wrongfully accused of treason, and was later pardoned) is currently set to film in Poland.

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