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Polanski granted bail by Swiss court

Roman Polanski pleaded guilty in August 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old.
Roman Polanski pleaded guilty in August 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Polanski arrested in Switzerland in September on U.S. arrest warrant stemming from 1977 sex case
  • Last month Swiss Criminal Court refused Polanski's bail request and said director was a flight risk
  • Polanski, 76, pleaded guilty in August 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl
  • Prosecutors dropped other charges in exchange for his guilty plea but he fled the country
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(CNN) -- Filmmaker Roman Polanski, who is being held in Switzerland on a U.S. extradition request related to a sex charge, has been granted bail, a Swiss federal police spokesman told CNN Wednesday.

The Oscar-winning director must post bail of 4.5 million Swiss francs ($4.5 million) and remain under house arrest, Falco Galli said.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has 10 days to appeal the decision, he said.

Galli could not provide further details, but said Polanski's lawyers have been notified about the development.

The Academy Award-winning director was arrested in Switzerland in September on a U.S. arrest warrant stemming from a 1977 sex case. He is fighting extradition to the United States.

Last month, the Swiss Criminal Court refused Polanski's request to be released on bail and said the director posed a high flight risk, according to court documents.

The Swiss Criminal Court said measures such as revoking Polanski's travel documents and requiring him to report daily to the police would not reduce the possibility that the director would flee.

Polanski, 76, pleaded guilty in August 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl five months earlier. He was 43 at the time.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles, California, dropped other charges in exchange for his guilty plea.

But Polanski fled the country before he was sentenced, after he learned the judge might not go along with the short jail term he expected to get from the plea agreement.

Polanski remained free -- mostly living in France -- before he was arrested in Switzerland on a 31-year-old arrest warrant. Los Angeles authorities said they sought his arrest when they learned he would be traveling to Switzerland for a film festival in September.

Polanski agreed to pay his sexual assault victim $500,000 to settle a damage claim she filed against him nearly 12 years after the crime, according to court papers released October 2.

Polanski still owed the money -- plus another $100,000 in interest -- three years after the 1993 settlement, according to the documents.

The victim sought money for damages suffered when Polanski had sex with her. She claimed Polanski plied her with alcohol and Quaaludes during a photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor Jack Nicholson.

It's not clear if Polanski ever completed paying the debt to the woman, although the court papers document efforts by her lawyers to garnish residuals and other payments owed to Polanski by the Screen Actors Guild, movie studios and other Hollywood businesses.

The victim came forward long ago and made her identity public -- saying she was disturbed by how the criminal case had been handled. Samantha Geimer, now 45 and a married mother of three, called in January for the case to be tossed out.

Polanski's arrest has divided public opinion, even in Hollywood. Some high-profile filmmakers, such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Pedro Almodovar, have called for his release. Others, including actors Kirstie Alley and Paul Petersen, refuse to defend him.

Polanski won an Academy Award for Best Director in 2003 for "The Pianist." He was nominated for a best director Oscar for "Tess" and "Chinatown," and for best writing for "Rosemary's Baby," which he also directed.

 
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