Reading the sordid facts of the original case it is difficult at first glance to see how fleeing the country and avoiding capture for thirty years can in any way negate the need for society to express its abhorrence for sexual abuse of children by punishing the confessed offender. The complication arises from the fact that Mr. Polanski’s flight, after respecting his end of a seemingly very lenient plea bargain, was motivated by substantial evidence indicating the prosecutor had improperly persuaded the judge to renege on the agreed sentence and impose imprisonment rather than the probation which had been agreed upon in exchange for the guilty plea. Some say running away was necessary to avoid irreparable harm to the offender, while others maintain the American justice system is well able to deal with any unfairness arising during legal proceedings. Indeed, unquestionably there exists a substantial body of law dealing with plea bargains and the rights and consequences flowing from them. It seems difficult to understand how a person, particulary one possessing all the resources necessary to benefit fully from the safeguards of the criminal justice system, should be able to avoid the resolution of his case by simply fleeing the country.
Whatever the result, one can only hope everyone agrees Polanski’s celebrity status should have no bearing on the courts’ decisions.