Roman Polanski Will Remain in Swiss Prison

Swiss ministry rejected his appeal for bail while awaiting extradition charges.

ByABC News
October 3, 2009, 1:31 PM

Oct. 6, 2009— -- Roman Polanski will remain in a Swiss prison while awaiting possible extraditiion to the United States.

On Tuesday, the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected the 76-year-old director's appeal to be let go. Ministry spokesman Folco Galli told The Associated Press there was still a high risk that Polanski would flee if released from custody.

Polanski's lawyers had hoped that the filmmaker could get out on bail or house arrest. They filed the appeal with the Ministry on Sept. 29, the same day they initiated a similar process in the Swiss courts that also seeks Polanski's freedom.

Last week, ABC News learned that 15 years after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, Polanski agreed to pay $500,000 to his victim, Samantha Geimer, to settle a civil lawsuit she filed. But it is unclear whether that payment was ever made.

According to documents released to the press, the two reached a deal in October 1993, but the terms of settlement were not disclosed. According to The Associated Press, it took Geimar two years to get Polanski to agree to pay the sum, but it was unclear from the court filings if the money was ever given.

In 1978, Polanski pleaded guilty to the charge of raping then 13-year-old Geimer. He spent 43 days in a California jail where he underwent a psychriatric evaluation and was deemend mentally fit. But amid fears of facing a long-term prison sentence, Polanski fled the country before he was sentenced.

Since then, Polanski has lived in Europe but has avoided countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

But in late September, the director, who won an Academy Award in 2003 for "The Pianist," was arrested at the airport in Zurich, Switzerland, as he was arriving for the Zurich Film Festival.

Officials there are now waiting for an official extradition request from the United States, and Polanski's attorneys are seeking bond to fight the extradition.

Nearly 31 years after he fled the United States, Polanski still has an outstanding warrant for his arrest and the 1977 rape case is still pending.

In 1993, Polanski agreed to pay Geimar the amount she was asking, but according to the AP, in December 1995, Geimar's attorneys wrote in a court filing that the Hollywood director had failed to pay. With interest accruing, that would amount to more than $600,000.

The AP reports that the victim's attorneys tried to solicit the help at the time of the Directors Guild of America, International Creative Management, Warner Bros. Inc. and Sony Studios.

It remains unclear if Polanski gave any money to Geimar and why the case was not pursued further.

In 1997, Geimar, who is now in her early 40s, began advocating that Polanski's case should be dropped. Since then, she has continually said she forgives Polanski and does not want him to face further jail time.

Experts say it's not unusual for victims in this type of a case to seek financial damages.

"There's nothing illegal, believe it or not, the victim of the crime asking for money because there's always a parrallel civil claim already attached to these things," said ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole. "Frankly, it's both expected and not frowned upon to reap some sort of financial settlement. [It] gives a victim some restitution, compensation, so there's nothing inaprorpriate about that."

And the settlement could be the reason why Geimar has forgiven Polanski and doesn't want him to spend more time in jail, he said.

"I don't think it's unsual, when a financial settlement has been reached," Cole said. "That again is part of the perhaps implied agreement between the parties. The civil claim."

He added, "It's sort of like ... understanding between parties."