Roman Polanski Raped a Child - Complications Ensue
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Kate Harding nails it in Salon:
Roman Polanski raped a child. Let's just start right there, because that's the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in "exile" (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never -- poor baby -- being able to return to the U.S.). Let's keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she'd rather not see him prosecuted because she can't stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let's take a moment to recall that according to the victim's grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, "No," then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.

Drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are

Can we do that? Can we take a moment to think about all that, and about the fact that Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, before we start talking about what a victim he is?
Personally, I'm mystified how many liberals, who normally disapprove of men raping women, seem okay with a famous director raping a girl. I'm shocked that someone like Whoopi Goldberg has signed onto the outrageous "Roman Polanski has suffered enough" meme. This is not an issue where the facts are much in question. But all sorts of Beautiful People are saying "can't we all just move on," and it appals me.

No, we can't move on. Polanski has not, in fact, been punished at all. He escaped punishment pretty much entirely. He did not spend a single night in jail. (The 42 days he spent were in "psychiatric evaluation.") He raped a child, then fled to France. He is a pedophile child molester, by his own confession, and he's never been punished for it.

Society does not hold together when you can get away with raping girls if you're rich and famous enough. Justice has to be seen to be done, or the whole social compact falls apart.

That is, incidentally, why it's irrelevant if the victim wants the whole thing to go away. If I were her, I'd want it to go away, too.

Is that so hard to understand?

48 Comments:

As a fairly gung-ho liberal myself, I find it mystifying as well. I don't know if it's people opening their mouths without knowing anything about the case or rich and famous people who think Polanski was "set up." Like Chris Rock said, I've never met a 13-year-old girl who looked 18. 13 is 13. Rape is rape. The law is the law. It's hard to imagine moving past that.

By Blogger Little Miss Nomad, at 12:30 PM  

It's the same reason everybody rushed to defend Kobe or any of the athletes who commit similar crimes. If a famous person has done something you like, you immediately give him a pass, as if somehow he's a better person so anything he does is okay.

It's disgusting.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 1:45 PM  

Alex,

I've been a fan of your for a good while, learned a lot from your blogs and your books - to the point of actually giving me a career.

This, my friend, is the best post you've done to date.

Well said, indeed.

By Blogger Polly, at 2:59 PM  

The really mystifying thing here is people who want to pull details of the offending crime into the light and retry the whole thing again.

I mean, he was convicted. He skipped town before sentencing. What does it matter if it was statutory rape, or bank robbery? Is the argument that the law was unjust, or unjustly applied? No. Nobody seems to be saying it was okay for him to do what he did. This is not Jean Valjean steals a loaf of bread and is chased for 30 years here.

He admitted he did the crime. He should be punished for it. I don't care if he saved every kitten in Europe from drowning over the last 30 years.

This is when I start to shake my head and think we don't even need conservative types to oppose us. Maybe we lefty artist types are as bad as they paint us.

Like you, I am just. mystified.

By Blogger DMc, at 2:59 PM  

One things that's interesting is that the french and the polish government backtracked from their original outrage. Thank god.. *That* was embarrassing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8283707.stm

I don't think Polanski actually has much support in the US, so don't get upset by Whoopi.

By Blogger frederic, at 6:04 PM  

This sentiment that he should be given a pass and that he has suffered enough... I am sure they would extend it to anyone else who had done the same thing. Say if it turned out that George Bush had committed the exact same despicable thing three decades ago, everyone who had signed that petition would line up to sign one for George as well. Right?

As a libertarian who holds himself off of the left/right spectrum, I long ago gave up pretending to be surprised by how people can forgive their compatriots for the very things they would lynch the other wing for doing.

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 8:30 PM  

In fairness to Whoopie, she did clarify the day after her statements that she only wanted to have the facts and that she was not in support of Polanski.

That said, I never much cared for the liberals and am in no way surprised that they are in support of this. I've always noticed how they rabidly support any and all kinds of debased, indifencible sexual perversion while calling it 'love'. (mind you, I'm not fond of the republicans either because they have a bloodthirstines when it comes to war and people of other races and religions). I'm appalled, but not surprised.

Look at what's her face (Mackenzie Phillips), she pens a book where she says she's had a sexual relationship with her father from she was 19 to his death. She then defends him saying he was a "good man" even though he gave her drugs at 16(she says).
People are flummoxed by this. How do they respond? Do they sympathize with a woman who consentually has sex with her father for over a decade? Especially when she defends him? What does she want, ultimately? For incest to be acceptable or for her to now cry victim of drugs and fame?
See, that's usually the road liberals tend to take. Very soon, I promise you, paedophilia and incest will no longer be taboo or unnacceptable. In fact, when people like me raise an alarm I'll swiftly be labeled an ignorant bigot.

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 9:14 PM  

So glad you posted this.

What the hell is with the media playing up the fact she was 13 years old and he was unsure of her age?

It's not a statutory case.

If you roofie a woman of ANY AGE then rape them (orally, vaginally AND anally) it's rape. In this case, it's rape AND pedophilia.

And, like DMc says, would someone please tell the media that POLANSKI WAS CONVICTED?

His guilt or innocence isn't up to the public to debate. It isn't up for investigative journalists to discuss. It isn't even up to the judicial system to decide. It is a fact that was recorded decades ago. Guilty - as pronounced by a court of law in the United States of America.

The punishment for rape isn't banishment to France. It's jail time (where he will hopefully be raped).

Suffered? Polanski hasn't suffered one modicum of the humiliation, regret, sadness, fear or violation that he selfishly inflicted on another human being.

What's right is right.

They want to give him a pass because he's a celeb? Fine, then don't charge him for fleeing the country. That alone is enough to put him in jail.

Eugh. The whole thing makes me sick.

The worst part is that Samantha Geimer (his victim) is pleading for the charges against Polanski be dropped - after she received an "undisclosed amount" (read enough to drown a whale) of settlement money.

Not even the victim will stand up for what is right - will America?

Someone should put forth a bill to change the statute of limitations on rape to 33 years and see what kind of an uproar that generates from both the left and the right.

Sick.

By Blogger blindmind, at 10:59 PM  

Personally, I'd love to have suffered how he has over the last 32 years.

By Blogger Tim W., at 2:33 AM  

"Justice has to be seen to be done, or the whole social compact falls apart" you say above.

I can't believe you are so naive. It is an every day event that people with enough clout get away with worse crimes and the society(ies) does not collapse into chaos.

Though I believe what Polanski did was a crime and that it has to be punished, we are not living in a world where every crime is punished. If you do not believe me, ask a practicing lawyer.

So you thought "Sopranos" was just a pretty Tv series. Hah!

By Blogger gezgin, at 12:12 PM  

@gezgin: I guess you're an "everything has to be either black and white" guy.

I would say the social compact is somewhat frayed in New Jersey and New York, because organized crime gets away with lots of stuff. On the other hand you can be reasonably certain that you will not be raped or murdered walking the street.

To the degree that bad guys are seen to get away with stuff, which they sometimes are, society is the worse for it.

To the degree that bad guys are seen to be punished, society works.

If the bad guys do what they want scot-free, you are probably in Kinshasa.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:37 PM  

Liberal/conservative, doesn't matter -- you hold onto the bs long enough, you start to believe it. And let's be honest, Hwood is up to its ears in bullshit.

It's worth noting that there are plenty of celebrities (and I've no idea where they fall on the political spectrum) who condemn Polanski's actions, AND his supporters. Folks like Chris Rock.

But indeed, it makes me wonder what in the hell some of them are thinking. Good article here on the stinking, muddy morals coming out of the mouths of Hollywood's elite these days.

By Blogger daveed, at 4:15 PM  

When Susan Aitkens approached Sharon Tate with the knife, she begged for mercy for herself and her unborn child. Aitkins said, "I have no mercy for you!" and did what she'd come to do.

When Polanski had his victim naked and drugged, she begged him for mercy, and he showed her none and did what he'd planned to do.

The transcripts of the grand Jury are on "The Smoking Gun" for those with the stomach to read them.

I don't think this is a Liberal or a Conservative thing. It's people who understand what's right versus people infected with that Hollywood disease of trying to figure out who might be upset or offended before they speak.

Kinda like Canadian writers sometimes...nameen?

By Blogger jimhenshaw, at 11:10 PM  

I sort of wonder if Hillary Clinton is the answer to the "Why now?" question. A foreign extradition requires the help of the State Department, and she's made maltreatment of women and girls her personal focus as S. of S.

The fact that European governments are starting to back off their initial outrage would suggest that at least SOMEONE in the liberal U.S. government cares whether a 13-year-old girl was raped. So I'm not sure this is really a red-blue issue.

By Blogger Lisa, at 11:57 PM  

@gezgin

Within the criminal community, there's a social construct (a pecking order if you will) based on a wide spectrum of crimes. I can't speak for the USA, but in Canada if you are charged and convicted of rape, you'd better be prepared for a rough ride in prison. Doubly so, if you abuse or rape a child.

While I don't condone any form of criminal activity, I would have to agree that there are crimes far more heinous than drug trafficking, or theft. There will always be a fray in the social compact - but society must ensure that certain offenses do not slip through the cracks. As far as Roman Polanski is concerned, we have failed.

By Blogger Erin, at 11:58 PM  

The issue here is one of double jeopardy.

Polanski reached a plea agreement that was declared acceptable to all parties. He served his time according to that plea agreement.

After her served his time, the judge voided the agreement and wanted to re-sentence him.

Now, we can all agree that 42 days is not adequate for what Polanski did. Unfortunately, the time to have that discussion was BEFORE that plea was agreed to. Once the prosecutor and judge signed off on it (perhaps because they thought it was the best they could do) it's too late to re-evaluate that.

Saying that Polanski was "convicted" is not entirely true. Since his plea was part of an agreement, it seems to me that if you want to revisit his punishment, then you need to revisit his guilty plea, as well. That being said, I think we can all agree: what Polanski did is not okay, and we would like to see people who commit that crime suffer more than 42 days of incarceration.

But you can't change your mind about the punishment after you've reached a plea deal, which is exactly what the judge did in this case. Polanski's original punishment may have been inadequate, but a judge can not arbitrarily change that after-the-fact.

By Blogger Ron, at 5:04 PM  

RIGHT ON!

(Sorry for the shouting.)

By Blogger Anna, at 5:26 PM  

@Ron: who says the judge signed off on the plea bargain? I think Polanski's problem was that he did NOT sign off on it. It was reached between the DA and the defense attorney.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 6:43 PM  

It's been a long time, but I believe Lawrence Weschler wrote an profile of Polanski for "The New Yorker," later republished in "Vermeer in Bosnia," which, if I recall correctly, suggested that the judge signed off on the original deal.

I haven't been able to find a copy of that article online to confirm this, however. I believe the "Wanted and Desired" documentary covers this, as well, but I haven't seen that and am reporting what others have told me about it.

It would be strange for somebody to serve time without the consent of the judge.

By Blogger Ron, at 7:02 PM  

Thank you for this! I've been dying to see more industry professionals speak out against him. So few people seem to want to stand up right now, and it's shocking to me.

By Blogger Wool in Sunshine, at 7:16 PM  

Well Ron, if the plea deal was 42 days and he served his time, why is he deemed a fugitive by the justice system?
There will always be someone to defend the indifensible, I tell you...

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 7:48 PM  

Ron,
When Polanski made his plea, the court asked him if he understood that the judge had not yet made a decision on sentencing. After conferring with his lawyers, he said yes. But he apparently didn't understand that.

The court also told him that he was free to withdraw his guilty plea up until sentencing and demand a trial. He didn't.

By Blogger Lisa, at 7:53 PM  

@Ron: Polanski was arrested and "spent time" in prison (actually in a psychiatric hospital under "evaluation") but that was a result of his arrest, not his conviction. Presumably there was a judge present at his arraignment, but that particular judge would only have set bail (obviously too low) for his appearance at trial.

Had he been acquitted at trial, instead of entering a guilty plea, he would have been released. The plea bargain was an agreement between the prosecutor and the defense proposing a sentence, to short circuit a trial; but the judge was not obliged to accept it, and indeed found it unacceptable.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 7:58 PM  

To the above comments:
The 42 days had nothing to do with serving time. The 42 days was part of his psych evaluation.

I'm really disappointed in the people/celebs/artists defending him. I don't think it's a left/right thing although I do recognize that Hollywood is mostly left. I think it's more of a creepy Hollywood solidarity thing.

FACTS: She was 13 years old. He was 43 or 44. He was in a position of power (read Hollywood director). He drugged her with Champagne and Qualudes. He raped her (orally, vaginally, anally) after she repeatedly said 'No' and rejected him. There are no grays here. Even if she was adult it would be rape, but he DRUGGED and RAPED a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD. Even if she said yes, it would be statutory rape, he DRUGGED and RAPED a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD. It doesn't matter what hardships he endured before or after. His art doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that she just wants us to leave it alone (I totally get why though). It doesn't matter if they settled a civil lawsuit for any amount of money (She filed the claim in '88, was awarded $500,000 in 93, as of '96 Polanski had not paid one cent - there is no known record of him ever paying). He DRUGGED and RAPED a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD. He shouldn't have 4 luxury homes in Europe, a great film career, an Oscar, a family because he DRUGGED and RAPED a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD! He should be rotting in prison for life!

I'm never going to watch a Polanski film again, because, he DRUGGED and RAPED a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD.

Ok, I'm done. Salon has a great article on it.
http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/09/28/polanski_arrest/

By Blogger Maurey, at 8:14 PM  

How, do you think, people (e.g. McKee) who have been praising his work (mostly Chinatown) feel nowadays? Why are people's consciences activated so vehemently only after his arrest? Why did people turn a blind eye up to this moment in time? Is a crime unimportant until it is brought to spotlight by the media?

Bueller?... Bueller?...

By Blogger gezgin, at 9:18 PM  

@gezgin: I do make a distinction between himself and his art. I still think he's a pretty good film director (though he's made some crap) and it's possible to praise his works without suggesting he's anything but a horrible excuse for a human being. Just as I don't think being a Great Artist makes you automatically a good person, I also don't think being a horrible person makes you automatically a wicked artist.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:27 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger gezgin, at 10:30 PM  

Alex, don't you think "art" and "artists" have certain roles in the society? And don't you think they should meet at least certain humanistic standards before they deserve the the respect they seek from the society? We are not talking about a man who uses the parking spot saved for the handicapped. We are talking about a CHILD RAPIST.

By the way, I could never wrap my head around the so-called "dichotomy between the character of the artist and his work". Being an avid pschology reader, I have never come across a theory explaining such a separation, save for "schizophrenia". Can you say that your work is not heavily influenced by your personality? I can not.

By Blogger gezgin, at 10:32 PM  

I believe you are thinking that "personal eccentricities" (e.g. homosexuality, etc.) should not overshadow the value of a work of art. In that sense, I'm with you. However, "personal eccentricity" is one thing, and "having committed a serious crime" is another.

For example, can you define Adolph Hitler as an artist who happens to have killed millions of people in his free time? Would you be able to hang one of his paintings on your wall by dissociating yourself from the fact that he was a mass-murderer? I would not.

Art is a way of expressing oneself AND contributing to the society. I don't believe you can pass for an artist if you are destroying the fabric of the society to whose interest you are submitting your artwork.

By Blogger gezgin, at 11:06 PM  

Some of the great Renaissance painters were killers. Off the top of my head, I think Caravaggio killed a guy. Ezra Pound was a vicious anti-Semite who was convicted for collaborating with the Fascists in Italy. Caravaggio's paintings are stlll good, and many of Ezra Pound 's short poems still have something to say. I wouldn't have voted to give Polanski an Oscar, and I'd like to know he's rotting in jail, but I think CHINATOWN is a well crafted (though overrated) movie, as is ROSEMARY'S BABY.

I wouldn't hang an Adolf Hitler in my place, for the reasons you mention. But I could judge his paintings independently from his mass murder. (They are, in fact, horrible.)

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 11:17 PM  

@Jamaicin

"There will always be someone to defend the indifensible"

I have to assume that's aimed at me, and I have to say represents typical sloppy anti-Polanski thinking: if you think he shouldn't be a fugitive from justice, then you must think what he did is okay.

There is no reasonable way to read what I wrote to defend Polanski's conduct with the girl.

As for why he was deemed a fugitive if he served his time, the answer is that the judge voided the deal after he served the time. That's my whole point: it is not reasonable to consider someone a fugitive IF they serve their deal and you change the plea after the fact. While it would have been better for Polanski to appeal the judges ruling, if he was not getting a fair shake from the government, the descision to flee because, if not ideal, understandable.

But feeling that the justice system wronged Polanski is NOT a defense of Polanski's conduct with the victim. Try to keep those two issues separate.

@Lisa We have different understandings of the facts. I would love to see a source for your version of the facts, because I am open to the possibility that my understanding is wrong (and have been trying, without success, to find the Weschler article to confirm it, but I believe it came out around the time of "Death and the Maiden" so it's hard to track down). However, my understanding is quite specifically that the psychiatric "evaluation" was his punishment.

@Alex I think it's splitting hairs to differentiate between the time spent in a mental hospital and time spent in a prison. The Weschler article makes clear that we're talking locked doors, small cells, etc. If Lisa's understanding of the facts is correct, and there wasn't an agreed-upon plea deal, then my opinion changes drastically. But when the state locks you up, I think it becomes nitpicking to argue about what the sign on the front of the building says.

By Blogger Ron, at 12:07 AM  

Thank you. I simply don't understand people AND 'artists' who have no issues with Polanski and who seem happy to work with him (Johnny Depp - I'm talking to you) - it's quite frankly irresponsible and disgusting. And anybody who hides it behind talk of separating Polanski the 'man' from Polanski the 'artist' is full of shit. I don't care how old he is, he should go to jail and receive the 'special attention' that people like him get there. And To Depp and all other so-called artists who have supported Polanski either directly of implicitly by working with him; Shame on you.

By Blogger Omar, at 12:36 AM  

@Lisa, @alex

I haven't been able to find the Weschler article, but "Wanted and Desired" is available on Netflix's streaming service, so I watched it.

It does not support your version of the facts.

In minute 56, it indicates that the judge was a party to the plea agreement.

In minute 64, it indicates that the judge said that the observation time in Chino would constitute the entire punishment for the crime.

Incidentally, minute 76 makes clear that the distinction between the hospital where he served his time and a prison is largely an academic one.

It's a little technical, but it's not quite the judge "voiding the plea agreement" as I wrote earlier. It is, however, Polanski entering the plea agreement with the judges consent to one thing, and having the judge change his mind later, with questionable motives.

I recommend the film to anyone interest in the legal aspects of the case. It doesn't spare Polanski, but the victim, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney all seem to agree that the judge's behavior was completely inappropriate.

By Blogger Ron, at 1:46 AM  

Ron, you're talking in circles plain and simple. It's one of those 'principle' arguments that holds absolutely no water. It's plain to anyone with even half-a-brain that you're defending the indefensible.

But lets suppose this; Suppose you are right, the judge plan to reneged on the deal(how you know what's in the judge's mind is beyond reasoning, but that's another point), so what? Are you putting a deal(which can't be proven since the law deems him a fugitive) above the rape, drugging and sodomy of a child? Is that what you're telling me? That a 'deal' which let's a rapist off the hook should be upheld?

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 2:21 AM  

to Alex and Gezgin, I notice you both debating the separation of Art and the artist.

Alex, the 'art' came from 'the artist'. Whether it's called 'his soul' or 'the inner recesses of his deranged mind', it came from him. It's a part of his experience and his worldview. It's a part of what makes him him.
Separating it from him is being deliberately ignorant of the anatomy of the 'art' he produced what it was borne of.

I was jarred into this reality a couple months ago when I saw a french guy interview an american director. The guy who made 'Carrie' (Brian De Palma). The interviewer had the director recount parts of his childhood. I was shock to hear the vitriol he expressed towards his mother (she left his father for another man. She only had boys, so she left them with there dad. He claimed she tried to poison him(the youngest) and his brothers against his father until his father told him the truth. He said she had always been cold towards them and never expressed love. He hated her to the day she died. He still hates her)
Prior to that, the interviewer had noticed how all his films up to that point(I think the interview took place in the 80s or 90s) had women meet violent deaths or was at the centre of much violence. He gave an answer that he loves women, or something to that effect. So when the interviewer dug deeper, the layers peeled away. He was expressing anger toward women because of that one woman he never got close to. His mother.
Yeah, I know he did 'scarface', 'mission impossible' etc but
that great 'art' came from somewhere(soul or recesses, take your pick).

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 3:24 AM  

I think the classic way an artist justifies his perversities to himself is: I need to know myself and the world completely. That's why I'm following my desires and impulses. My artistic genius is the product of this radical investigation. Laws and rules are for the bourgeois.

The reason why Polanski is so easily forgiven is because many artists and intellectuals recognize this reasonining within themselves.

By Blogger brat, at 3:55 AM  

@Ron: the "Wanted and Desired" documentary isn't a good source of facts. See my earlier post linking to a Salon article about it.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 7:43 AM  

With regards to the art vs the man:

From being on the run after escaping the Nazi concentration camp, having his mother killed in Auschwitz, having his wife and unborn child brutally eviscerated and her blood spread on the walls, in the Manson murders, there is a lot of stuff in Polanski's live beside that one day when photo shoot that turned horribly wrong.

He's guilty of this crime, or a younger (probably drugged) of version of himself is, and must face justice.

But it's baffling overreaction to now say that anyone that's appreciated a Polanski work should now be ashamed. His movies are not sexual abuser propaganda, in case you really don't know what's there.

At the time of the crime, there was still a lot of sympathy for Polanski, after the Manson murders, and the details of the crime were not really well known, and were distorted by the press. But he is certainly not the only troubled artist in history.

By Blogger frederic, at 10:53 AM  

Roman Polanski - "But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls – everyone wants to fuck young girls!"

When a man states this flat out in an interview it makes me think that this was not a one time slip up for an otherwise decent man but rather the systemic behaviour of a man who believes he was being treated unfairly by those who are jealous that he got to "fuck young girls".

There has probably been a long string of drugged, deceived, coerced or charmed "young girls".

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 11:14 AM  

@Jaimaican

Unfortunate, Jamaican, the only crime Polanski pled guilty to was "unlawful sexual intercourse." This is not a crime for which people normally serve more time than Polanski served, and certainly not a crime for which people served meaningful amounts of time back then.

This is one of the things I don't like about the Salon.com article: it treats the victims grand jury testimony as proven fact. But it is not proven fact. If I recall correctly, the Wechsler article indicates that some of her testimony was inconsistent - hardly surprising, since we're talking about a 13-year-old girl under an incredible amount of pressure.

@Alex I've read both Harding's recent article on the case, and Wyman's original commentary about the film, which is scathing ... but actually doesn't take issue with the facts I mentioned in my previous post. Having watched the documentary, I think that Wyman's article grossly mischaracterizes some aspects of it (such as the point he says is "played for laughs.") Watching the documentary last night, I did not feel like it was taking it easy on Polanski, particularly in the opening sequence which quotes extensively from the victim's grand jury testimony.

I would encourage you to watch it and form your own opinion. Is it exhaustive?

In any event, there are several misstakements of the facts in this thread. (Specifically that he pled guilty in an agreement that did not involve the judge, and that the evaluation in Chino had "nothing to do" with his punishment.) The real facts do not exonerate Polanski for what he did to the girl, but they do make the issue of punishing him further problematic.

If you believe in principles like double jeopardy, you have to believe in them even when the criminal involved did something awful. Basic rights apply to bad people and good people alike.

It's also strange that the DA was evidently willing to settle the case with no further time served in the mid-90s, but now thinks chasing him down in Europe is a worthwhile use of resources.

By Blogger Ron, at 3:51 PM  

@JamaicanInToronto, This is belated, but to imply that supporting the right for gays to marry is even remotely akin to supporting rape or incest is absurd and pathetic. Also, you are a terrible speller.

By Blogger Little Miss Nomad, at 8:22 PM  

@Ron,
Here's the transcript of Polanski's plea hearing.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0928091polanskiplea1.html

I'm not surprised that the account differs from a documentary made by friends of Polanski to try to vindicate him.

By Blogger Lisa, at 8:52 PM  

@Little Miss: Let's keep the ad hominem attacks out of the blog, k?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:19 AM  

It's hard to imagine this discussion if a 43 year old priest drugged and sodomized a 13 year old boy, plead to a lesser charge and then fled to Europe.

At least it's hard to imagine the same people involved in the discussion making the same arguments for leniency.

By Blogger John McFetridge, at 4:12 PM  

Little Miss, since you mentioned homosexuality while I had not, you are the one making any comparisons.
Also, whether my spelling skills are poor or well, your mentioning of it is simply petty.

Ron, someone pleading guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse" with a CHILD warrants 42 days only? Remarkable. keep defending...

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 12:03 AM  

"It doesn't matter that she just wants us to leave it alone (I totally get why though)."

I think if you really got it you wouldn't find her wishes so easy to dismiss.

By Blogger Dave Hunter, at 2:03 AM  

I can't agree more and I'm horrified that grown women plenty old enough to be mothers of thirteen year old girls are leaping to the defense of a pedophile and a rapist. Talent is not and should not be a "get out of jail free" card.

This mindset is the one that has allowed what I would call a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment to permeate the entire entertainment industry and continue into the 21st century.

Sex is to be a mutually consensual activity between adults. Yet this week, I heard a female casting director from L.A. on the CBC defending Letterman this week. She actually said that no woman with talent sleeps with a boss to get ahead. When your job is on the line and the person who wants to sleep with you is your boss can it honestly be said there's no element of coercion for the adult in the one-down position who "consents" or risks losing a job? It is just a short series of steps down a slippery slope from coercion to assault.

It's also this same morally gray thinking that tolerates manipulations of power to garner sexual favours from young, vulnerable staff taken from a two to a ten that allows people to say, " But Polanski won an Oscar. Give him a get out of jail free card!"

If Polanski was a Nazi or Serbian war criminal you can bet your ass no one would be arguing that the time that had passed should let him off the hook.

Until we stop making and accepting excuses for this kind of repulsive behavior and cease condoning it in any form, people will continue to proffer these lame excuses for leniency in the face of it.

As the victim of an aggravated sexual assault I can sympathize with the victim's desire to get on with her life and not have to relive this. When I was "date-raped" by a boss I chose not to go to the police and not to press charges for precisely this reason. I can tell you the scars of that incident changed my career and my life forever, trial or no.

I was an adult, not a child and this was my decision to make. More than twenty years later, the incident continues to haunt me. I paid, he didn't.

Mr. Polanski drugged and raped a child and then fled the country to escape prosecution. We as a society either think rape is OK or we think it's not OK. If we think it's not OK - and certainly the law says it's not OK - then Mr. Polanski must man up come back to America as a convicted felon and serve his sentence and pay society's penalty for his truly awful crime.

By Blogger Celeste, at 2:51 PM  

"The issue here is one of double jeopardy.

Polanski reached a plea agreement that was declared acceptable to all parties. He served his time according to that plea agreement.

After her served his time, the judge voided the agreement and wanted to re-sentence him."


I guess I'll drop in late and clear up a few misconceptions like that one. I've read a transcript of Polanski's plea and it covers a lot of these things, and I really wish people would do a minimum level of research before making statements like the ones above.

Above all, the judge made it clear to Polanski and his attorney that the court had not made a decision on what Polanski's sentence would be at the time the plea was entered, and that Polanski was eligible for anything from the minimum to the statutory maximum. And by clear, I mean the judge said that to Polanski and made Polanski repeat it back to him:

"MR. GUNSON: Mr. Polanski, who do you believe will decide what your sentence will be in this matter?

THE DEFENDANT: The Judge.

MR. GUNSON: Who do you think will decide whether or not you will get probation?

THE DEFENDANT: The Judge.

MR. GUNSON: Do you understand that at this time, the Court has not made any decision as to what sentence you will receive?

THE DEFENDANT: (No response.)

MR. GUNSON: Do you understand that the Judge has not made any decision?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes."


The entire transcript consists of the judge explaining something to Polanski and then the judge either asks him if he understands, has him fill in a blank, or has him repeat something outright. In the case of the possible sentence lengths, the judge asked Polanski what the maximum sentence was, and Polanski stated it on the record from memory:

"MR. GUNSON: What is the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse?

THE DEFENDANT: It's one to fifteen – twenty years in State Prison.
"

There was nothing in the plea that addressed what the sentence would be, so "he served his time according to that plea" is demonstrably false. As is the second sentence about "re-sentencing". Polanski was never sentenced before he fled the country.

What has been lost here is that Polanski had a verbal agreement with the prosecutors that a short sentence would be recommended, but it was not binding on the court, and he knew it wasn't binding because the judge made him acknowledge that fact under oath. After pleading guilty, Polanski got cold feet and fled the country.

Those are the facts.

Regardless, whatever happened in that court 30+ years ago could have been appealed then just as it can be appealed now. When you look at the facts of what happened, there really is no excuse for running like he did.

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 10:59 AM  

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