Outrageous Arrest in Switzerland: Free Roman Polanski

Update: Here is the Motion to Dismiss (pdf)and the Victim's Declaration (pdf). If you aren't going to familiarize yourself with the facts of the case, please refrain from commenting.

The Swiss have arrested Roman Polanski on an outstanding warrant from California relating to his 1977 prosecution on a sexual assault charge. They were laying in wait, as they knew Polanski, who had always been allowed to freely travel to the country, was en route to accept an international film award. CNN has more here.

France is outraged. So am I. Polanski has lived in France since fleeing the U.S. in 1978 after the Judge, at the behest of a prosecutor not involved in the case, re-negged on a plea deal and was going to sentence Polanski to prison instead of the agreed upon time served in exchange for his guilty plea. [More...]

Polanski tried to get the conviction overthrown last year, with the consent of the victim, and the judge said he couldn't do it because Polanski had to be here in person. But, he noted how troubled he was by the judge's and prosecutor's manipulations.

France has this reaction:

In Paris, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was "dumbfounded" by Polanski's arrest, adding that he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them." Those comments referred to the fact that Polanski, a native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto as a child during World War II and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp.

Mitterrand's office said Sunday that he was in contact with French President Nicolas Sarkozy "who is following the case with great attention and shares the minister's hope that the situation can be quickly resolved."


Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner spoke to his Swiss counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, to urge that "Polanski's rights be fully respected and that the case would quickly result in a favorable outcome," the statement said.

The U.S. must now file formal extradition papers. Those are presented through a diplomatic note, from the State Department, working with the Office of International Affairs (OIA). See, Office of the Legal Advisor's Law Enforcement and Intelligence (OLA/LEI).

After being approved by OIA, the formal extradition request is sent to Department of State's OLA/LEI and then presented through diplomatic channels at the Department of State to the foreign government. After the foreign government's law enforcement authority arrests the fugitive, an extradition hearing is conducted in the foreign court. If the court finds that the documentation presented by the United States is sufficient, then a certification of extraditability is rendered. If the court does not find the documentation sufficient, then the extradition request is denied. When a court grants the extradition request, the fugitive has the right to appeal.

Here is the section of the U.S. Attorney's Manual on foreign extradition requests.

Hillary, please don't do it. Free Roman.

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    The Swiss will extradite him (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by scribe on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:31:23 PM EST
    they've been showing a lot of subordination, self-abnegation and fealty to the whimsy of the US of A lately which, I suspect, is directly linked to the UBS prosecutions and disclosures of secret Swiss bank account information to the US tax authorities.

    The shortest leash is the one connected to someone's wallet, and the Swiss are feeling the tug.  They will respond, lest their banksters get more prosecutions thrown their way when they touch down here.

    Sad to say, I suspect Polanski will be extradited and spend the rest of his life in prison.  Whether he shortens that time by his own hand or not, I have no way of knowing.

    Chalk this one down to another instance of Obama choosing to b*tch-slap another part of his base, this time the Hollywood folks who dumped huge sums of money into his campaign.  If I were more suspicious, I'd say he already has decided to be a one-termer - nobly going down in idealistic flames - and is scheming to set up the eternal profits of the insurance industry such that they put him on retainer for the rest of his post-defeat life.

    Imagine how his losing the election would make reforming health care a non-starter for generations, regardless of how badly it sapped voters' wallets....  

    See this article (2.00 / 0) (#10)
    by scribe on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:58:09 PM EST
    What a bizarre (none / 0) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:56:21 PM EST
    series of assertions, almost every one of them factually wrong or flat-out made up.

    Tell that to Reuters, for one (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by scribe on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:57:38 PM EST
    on the tax prosecutions front.

    The Swiss have been feeling a lot of pressure lately, from the US, to give up their bank secrecy laws.  It would seem a lot of people owing the US taxes have been hiding large sums of money in Switzerland to keep it away from the IRS' prying eyes and grasping hands.

    The problem (as the IRS and DoJ see it) had gotten to the point that they were ready to criminally charge UBS.  UBS might well be the largest banking corporation in Switzerland.  It came to a head after one of UBS' bankers was busted coming in through customs with a toothpaste tube full of a UBS' client's diamonds, which had been hidden in Switzerland to keep them away from the IRS.  That banker was flipped (he was threatened with spending probably the rest of his life in a federal pen) and that uncovered even more - seminars and corporate training (for lack of a better term) in-house at UBS on "how to sell to your clients how to evade (not avoid - which would be legal) US taxation on all this money".

    This did not sit well with the US authorities.

    Add to that the fact that Switzerland has, pretty much historically, put compliance with international warrants into the same scale as its banking industry, when weighing Switzerland's interests.  And, the Swiss can be pretty liberal (i.e., defendant friendly) with regard to their other criminal laws.

    By way of example, a couple weeks ago I was called in to assist a colleague on a matter in which his client, coming up for trial on a serious criminal matter here, had been out of the country for a number of years - in a Swiss prison for crimes committed there.  Obviously, the US prosecutors want to get that conviction and prison term before the jury "where were you between 1999 and 2004 or so?"  to show that because he did one crime he obviously did a very different one here.  Did you know, for example, that expungement of Swiss criminal records is pretty much automatic, starting 5 years after completion of sentence?  It goes on a sliding scale, depending on how long the initial sentence was. I didn't know that.  

    And, for that matter, the Swiss have allowed Polanski to travel, etc. in and through their country for over 30 years while the warrant for his arrest was outstanding.  That alone rankled the law and order types in the US.

    So, the next time the US comes calling about some banking indiscretion the Swiss bankers might have gone into, the Swiss government can throw back that, hey, we caught Polanski for you.

    You might like to think that governments won't trade people for political advantage like that, but they do.  Every time they send a young person off to war and spend his life killing other people, they trade lives for advantage.  That Polanski is a 70-something artist of some renown merely makes him a higher-value chip.  

    It's sad to say, but true.

    And, as to those harping on 44 year-old guy on 13 year-old girl, Polanski gets no points from me on that count.  It was wrong for him to do that.  But, one also has to put it in context.  It was the 1970s, when dope and sex were freely available, winked at, and even tacitly encouraged.  As I recall it, growing up then, the legal strictures on sex by adults with people under 18 were only really enforced once the kid got to be down around 13 or 14.  One has to remember, FWIW, that kiddie porn was not even considered to be illegal - despite statutes to the contrary it had been believed to be protected by the First Amendment until a Supreme Court decision about 1982.  And there was really no federal law about it until the second Reagan term - 1985 or 1986, I recall.  Most of the laws about sex the violation of which make up a huge part of criminal dockets today were either non-existent back then, or were effectively not the subject of enforcement.

    The times were different, then.  Doesn't make what he did right, but it has to be seen in context.

    And, FWIW, the judge handling Polanski's case was a publicity hound who would have made Judge Ito look like Mr. Reticence.  He was going to make a statement for the purpose of making himself and the prosecutor a name.


    Hold up, AP accidentally slipped this about UBS (none / 0) (#80)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:09:48 AM EST
    See this LINK. I dunno, maybe somebody at the AP slipped it accidentally on purpose.

    Here's the Wiki skinny on UBS.


    I Really Had No Idea (5.00 / 10) (#27)
    by BDB on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:32:55 PM EST
    that it was okay if you didn't like the sentence the judge was going to give you or if you thought the system had screwed you, to simply flee the country.

    Seriously, this isn't the biggest crime of the century or anything, but the only reason why Roman Polanski has been able to wander around Europe for the last several decades is because he's a rich celebrity.  Because it he was some factory worker accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, there's no way this would be the outcome.   None.  

    That's why I think this case strikes such a chord with some people.  That and nobody would think it was no big deal if he had raped a 13 year old boy.  

    I'm glad the victim got on with her life, but I don't really care in terms of prosecuting Polanski.  There's a reason cases are entitled the PEOPLE v. defendant (and not the victim).

    deterrence is the point (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by diogenes on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:42:36 PM EST
    The point is to deter people from fleeing the country to escape trials/sentences, not whether the then-victim wants him jailed today.  And exactly how many millions did she get in the "undisclosed" settlement?
    Bring him back and reopen the case; the case can be tried or dismissed on its merits, although the case that he fled should lead to at least one conviction.

    That is so Swiss (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by ricosuave on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:13:48 PM EST
    They can't be bothered to help hunt Nazis or Nazi loot for decades, but some old Holocaust survivor Jew gets scooped up right before Yom Kippur.

    I agree with all of the sentiment that he should not be given special treatment just because he is a famous Hollywood star, but does anyone believe he would be in this situation in the first place if he were not a famous Hollywood star?  He was so hated by the right that one of the first reactions to his wife's death at the hands of the Manson gang was that he brought it on himself by making Rosemary's Baby.  How were ordinary folks being treated in similar situations in 1977?  Was it anything like the slap on the wrist at the other coast that a certain political scion got for drunk driving around the same time (the point being that this was not uncommon treatment for a crime we now believe to be much more serious)?

    Perhaps he will get shipped back to California and have this mess cleared up for good.  What kind of power does Arnie have to show some sort of clemency here (and will he do it)?

    Indeed (1.00 / 1) (#67)
    by eric on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 07:00:12 PM EST
    I really do feel that much of this has a political feel to it.  I am sympathetic to Polanski, my right wing friend, for some reason, hates him for no other reason than some right-wing radio show told him to.

    As you allude to, Mr. Polanski had some right-wing enemies from long ago.  Perhaps that is the root of it.  The right-wing needs some blood.


    sorry jeralyn, (5.00 / 6) (#58)
    by cpinva on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:38:09 PM EST
    his personal history is irrelevant, with respect to the case at hand. he's been a fugitive for 30 years, all for the sake of not spending another 48 days in a psychiatric institution, assuming his motion to set aside his plea was rejected.

    he'd already plead guilty, 48 days was going to kill him? geez, he got off light. personally, he committed a heinous offense, not as bad as murder, but heinous nonetheless. if she was my daughter, he'd be lucky to have escaped in one piece.

    i have no sympathy for him.

    I'm not a fan (5.00 / 8) (#72)
    by Steve M on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:36:28 PM EST
    of rewarding folks for successfully eluding justice.  By and large, it's another way that folks with resources get to use them to cheat the system.

    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:51:09 PM EST
    it basically givwes a guy a free pass if he's rich and powerful enough to get off the first time- by this same logic shouldn't we have also avoided re-prosecuting the civil rights crimes of the 1960s (Medger Evers et al)- after all its been a long time and hey why shouldn't we just let it go- heck, if anything they had a better case- after all most of them were prosecuted and found not guilty (by a jury basically accepting if not proud of their crimes).

    Reclusive Leftist has a good post... (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:58:04 PM EST
    LINK: Hey, kids, here comes Roman Polanski! It's kind of 'fair and balanced', considering.

    As for all the foregoing speculation that "Polanski no longer poses a threat", I agree we probably wouldn't see a repeat of his 1977 performance. But still, who would let him babysit their 13 year old daughter?

    I would (4.00 / 4) (#78)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:03:24 AM EST
    so please take your smear campaign elsewhere. You've made your point several times. It's chatter now.

    I believe a smear involves false accusations. (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:12:42 AM EST
    If I may: I have made no false accusations about Polanski, nor stated my opinion as fact, nor unduly repeated myself.

    Jeralyn, I greatly appreciate TL and the wit and wisdom of the people who comment here. I also respect your judgment on the vast majority of issues.

    However, in a matter like the Polanski case, when you have such a vehement, unwavering editorial stance, in combination with strong admonitions - all of that can have a decidedly intimidating effect on someone who may see things differently. Perhaps I resist that sense of intimidation by persisting on a subject sometimes.

    By comparison, I find BTD's overall style to be much more confrontational. But, he has never found it necessary to give me a pants-down spanking on his threads. At the moment, I feel discouraged from making any further comments on any subject. Suffice to say, I'll spare us both the grief and stay off your threads altogether. I trust that is good.

    It is now officially September 28th, so Happy Birthday and all the best.


    smear campaigns (1.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:44:09 AM EST
    are not limited to false facts:

    A smear campaign, smear tactic or simply smear is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group. Sometimes smear is used more generally to include any reputation-damaging activity,

    The comment that this 76 year old man whose singular offense was more than 30 years ago would endanger a child entrusted to his care as a babysitter was an unnecessary smear to make it appear as if he remains a danger to the community, or is a pedophile.

    There are plenty of comments in this thread I disagree with -- even wince at. Your's crossed the line, in my view, from a discussion of the case to a gratuitous slam. We've been here before, and you know the comment policy.

    I don't mean for you to feel intimidated, but we'll just have to disagree on this one. And thanks for the b-day wishes -- they are sincerely appreciated.


    What smear campaign (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:53:03 PM EST
    - if anything saying this is statuatory rape sells it short- the victim's testimony seem to indicate forcible rape which would be a crime regardless of age.  I mean should say Mike Tyson have fled the country and fought overseas instead would that have been a better option since apparently its all cool after a while.

    I feel sorry for your daughter (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:26:15 PM EST
    Neither one of us know whether he has ever raped another 13 year old, but I know and you should also that 76 year old men are perfectly capable of perversion.
    As some one who was raped and molested at 13, I am sorry that you would put your personal feelings about this case ahead of the safety of your daughter just to prove a point.

    Ted Kennedy (5.00 / 3) (#79)
    by Potfry on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:07:22 AM EST
    I'm also waiting for the Ted Kennedy defense to surface here-- that his contributions to society were so grand that we should overlook his indiscretions, that they were simply the price we had to pay for benefiting from his brilliance.

    for those interested (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:11:13 AM EST
    there is a very good documentary on this subject.

    Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

    the judge cited it when (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:33:39 PM EST
    denying the motion to dismiss. Reportedly, it has interviews with the wayward prosecutor who admits to the ex parte contacts with the judge.

    It's available on Netflix with streaming for immediate viewing for those of you with Netflix accounts that accommodate it. I highly recommend viewing it.


    Why is Polanski's arrest "outrageous"? (5.00 / 3) (#110)
    by John Albert on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:58:05 PM EST
    I don't understand why Polanski's arrest is considered "outrageous." He has been a fugitive from justice for 31 years. The case he's been running from is one of abusive crime against a minor. He explicitly confessed to the original charges (though he copped a plea to lesser ones), so it's not like there's any question about whether he did it.

    I have always been a fan of Polanski's work. I feel he's an extremely talented director, but he obviously has some serious problems in his personal life, especially where women are concerned. However, I certainly don't feel that being a talented artist should exempt him from justice of his crimes.

    The judge in that case had the authority to reject the plea bargain. Plea bargains are good faith offers made to defendants by the prosecution to avoid a trial and/or in exchange for cooperativeness in securing other convictions. When the case gets to court, however, the judge is in charge of the proceedings and plea bargains merely serve as "recommendations." The judge can use his own discretion in deciding whether or not to honor them.

    If the judge had rejected the plea bargain, he would have had to specify new charges and require Polanski enter a plea to those. But since the judge accepted his guilty plea to "unlawful sex with a minor," he would have had to sentence Polanski in accordance with that crime. If the judge meted out a significantly harsher sentence, then Polanski would have had ample grounds for an appeal. Instead, Polanski cowardly fled the country before his sentencing could take place, so arguing what sentence he might have received is a moot point.

    Last year's documentary claimed that the judge was going to railroad Polanski for life, but the fact is, he never sentenced Polanski so it's unclear. Also unclear was how Polanski would have known he was going to get the book before deciding to flee. The judge and prosecutor are both dead now, so they're unable to speak in their own defense.

    Another thing: victim statements like the "forgiveness" expressed by Geimer are incidental to a violent crime case. It's not uncommon for rape victims to lose the will to follow through with prosecution of their attackers, especially when it involves court testimony or other public attention. As jbindc pointed out, victims do not call the shots in cases of violent crime. Once they've filed charges and involved the criminal justice system, they have no authority to terminate investigations or nullify criminal charges. As far as the justice system is concerned, Polanski's crimes are not private interactions between himself and his victim. Criminal acts, especially violent ones, are transgressions of the law against society at large. Otherwise, criminals could simply pay off their victims and continue their predations on society.

    This is not a case of vengeance. If it were, the victim would be the only person deciding how the case should proceed. This is a criminal case involving a child rapist who also happens to be a famous and wealthy artist, who flaunted his disregard for the law by fleeing the country.

    Regardless of Polanski's advanced age, justice has still not been served in this case. Why should the US courts give special treatment to Polanski and allow him to remain free? Simply because he's making movies that entertain people, garner praise and win awards?

    Special concessions were already granted to Polanski because of his position within the  movie business and his wealth and fame. He was allowed freedom of travel outside the state of California and even outside the US, despite the seriousness of the charges against him and the fact that he holds citizenship in a country with a shaky extradition policy (France). He abused that privilege by running away from his sentencing.

    I don't understand why they haven't made a more vigorous effort to apprehend him over the past 31 years. It's not like his whereabouts have exactly been a secret the entire time. You can suppose some arcane or duplicitous political reason for Switzerland's sudden cooperation in this case, but that's irrelevant to the case regarding Roman Polanski. Despite all the accolades, glowing reviews, Oscars, black-tie dinners, sublime intellectual discourse and artistic prestige, this guy administered alcohol and illegal drugs to sedate a 13-year-old girl, then forcibly took her virginity and violated her anally, despite her protests for him to stop. Polanski even confessed to doing these things. That's a serious crime even by generous standards, is it not?

    Even those who dismiss the societal taboo against sex between a middle-aged man and an adolescent girl as an ageist convention cannot escape the fact that he drugged her using dangerous illegal substances and then raped her. That would have been an insidious sex crime even if he'd done it to a woman his own age.

    I'm sorry if stating the particular facts of this case is deemed offensive by anyone, but I consider the crimes this man committed to be far more offensive then any words used to describe them.

    Despite the scenario presented in that documentary, this is not a case of partisan politics, of film criticism or of court agents trying to steal the limelight by railroading a beloved and famous artist. As I see it, it is a case of another wealthy and famous person committing crimes, then behaving as if he's above the law and using his privilege to escape justice. In my opinion, this is an example of one of the most serious injustices we have here in the USA. In addition to all the other unfair advantages the wealthy enjoy over the rest of the populace, impunity from criminal acts is possibly the most outrageous.

    terrific (none / 0) (#124)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:36:46 PM EST
    Best comment on the thread.  I hope that this: Even those who dismiss the societal taboo against sex between a middle-aged man and an adolescent girl as an ageist convention isn't actually happening.  

    the injustice is to Roman Polanski (none / 0) (#132)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 02:22:57 AM EST
    and by extension, to all of us.

    Aren't you all just so sophisticated (4.42 / 7) (#17)
    by CMike on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:56:56 PM EST
    This is the case of a celebrity plutocrat who had sexual intercourse with a thirteen year-old when he was a forty-four years old. He ended up fleeing the country while on bail, prior to his sentencing.

    Jaralyn, who I assume argues against determinate sentences, believes that a judge would have been guilty of some grand violation of the public trust had he exercised his discretion and rejected the plea deal the prosecutor in the case reached with Polanski and his lawyer.

    Ms. TalkLeft, who I assume has absolutely no knowledge of the course of the victim's life since she was sexually abused at the age of thirteen, believes that it is significant that the now adult victim does not publicly call for Polanski's incarceration. Granted, Samantha Geimer has said:

    I think he's sorry, I think he knows it was wrong. I don't think he's a danger to society. I don't think he needs to be locked up forever and no one has ever come out ever - besides me - and accused him of anything. It was 30 years ago now. It's an unpleasant memory ... (but) I can live with it.

    Jeralyn makes the case here, my apologies if I am interpreting this incorrectly, that a survivor of the Holocaust should not have been subject in to the sanctions that were in place for those who violated California's criminal laws regarding adult/minor child sex in 1977.

    From Wikipedia:

    Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor. These charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

    Following the plea agreement, according to the aforementioned documentary, the court ordered Polanski to report to a state prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, but granted a stay of ninety days to allow him to complete his current project. Under the terms set by the court, he was permitted to travel abroad. Polanski returned to California and reported to Chino State Prison for the evaluation period, and was released after 42 days.

    For those of you who wish to see the perpetrator in this case -- just this perpetrator or the rest of them in these cases? -- get off with a 42 day psych evaluation and decades of living in France for engaging in middle-aged man on thirteen year-old girl sex, this is indeed a dark day.

    I'm not a lawyer (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by CMike on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:27:45 PM EST
    However, I'm sure you are 100% wrong when you state, "The court long ago determined, as was and is its discretion, that Mr. Polanski had been punished enough." The court did no such thing.

    While awaiting sentencing, Roman Polanski came to believe that the judge, i.e. the court, would not agree to the terms of the plea deal worked out for him by his defense attorney and the prosecutor. Polanski then fled the jurisdiction prior to his sentencing.

    It was entirely within the purview of the judge to reject the terms of that agreement. Granted, judges rarely reject the terms of a plea agreement. Doing so more frequently than rarely would make it tough for prosecutors to reach plea bargains, dispose of cases, and keep the wheels of the criminal justice system turning. This, however, is a classic example of a case in which I would want a judge to reject a deal made between prosecutor and a celebrity/plutocrat defendant.

    Whereas I do not think Polanski deserved to be treated by the court worse than he would have been treated if he were not a rich and famous person, neither do I think because Polanski was rich and famous he deserved to be treated better by D.A. than an ordinary person.    


    why don't you read the pleadings in the case (none / 0) (#43)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:21:47 PM EST
    before spouting off. If you can google wikipedia, surely you can find them. And if not, here they are:

    Your point of view is noted. And since you mischaracterized what I've repeatedly said -- I never said the case should be dropped because he's a holocaust survivor, but because his constitutional rights were violated by the Judge, in cahoots with a DA not on the case, you are banned from commenting further in this thread.

    It's your blog (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by CMike on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:32:09 PM EST
    I'll respect your ban. However, I responded to a comment above before I read your comment here.

    C'mon dude! (none / 0) (#47)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:40:55 PM EST
    You can "P" in your own sandbox.  You cannot "P" in someone else's sandbox and expect to be able to stay in the sandbox.  ChiTownMike, I agree with much of what you say, but you need to think about how you say it!

    he didn't have sex with her (none / 0) (#125)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:39:12 PM EST
    he raped her.  Other than that, great comment.

    the victim herself (3.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Turkana on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:31:12 PM EST
    wants this over with. i saw her interviewed, a few years ago. she's fine, she neither hates nor even resents polanski, and just wants this over with. if she seemed angry at anyone, it was at the people still pursuing polanski.

    True (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by jbindc on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:39:33 PM EST
    But as this is a criminal case, it's not up to the victim, or rather, "complaining witness" as to whether the charges get dropped or not.  It's up to the state.  Of course, they can take wishes of the complaining witness into account, and my guess is, they probably will.  But the warrant on which Polanski was arrested on was not about the sexaul assault case, per se, but it was a warrant for failing to appear at his sentencing- in other words, the arrest warrant is for fleeing (a separate crime).

    Apparently the LA prosecutors have tried to get him before and have prepared paperwork to do so, but apparently he found out about it at the time, and canceled his trip.


    I disagree (3.66 / 3) (#100)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:57:51 AM EST
    It perhaps may be technically correct that it is up to the state to decide....but I think it is morally wrong.  

    If the victim does not care to prosecute, then the case should be over....Really, are you going to subpoena the girl, now woman, to testify against her will about what happened?  Yes, you could legally do that, but it would be wrong and immoral to do so.    

    "The state" has way too much power as it is....  


    it is a criminal case (3.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Turkana on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:17:00 PM EST
    but keeping it open serves no social good, including to the victim.

    Maybe not (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by jbindc on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:25:06 PM EST
    But that isn't Polanski's call - it's up to the people of the great State of California (through their elected officials / court system).

    yes it does do some social good (5.00 / 1) (#120)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:04:58 PM EST
    it says that "even if you are famous and make great films and get to be an old guy, raping teen age girls is not alright.  So don't do it or you too can go to prison".

    it says (none / 0) (#134)
    by Turkana on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 08:51:23 PM EST
    that judges can inappropriately and unilaterally vacate plea agreements, thus undermining the very concept of rule of law.

    For what offense (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Peter G on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:57:49 PM EST
    was the warrant issued, and for which extradition is sought?  Unlawful intercourse with a person below the age of consent ("statutory rape")?  Or willful failure to appear for sentencing?  It makes a difference in many ways in thinking about the case, or at least so it seems to me.

    A measured response. Thanks. (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:38:06 PM EST
    Polanski was indited on 6 counts = life sentence (none / 0) (#73)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:48:31 PM EST
    I've been googling around to find WHAT the six counts were - but it's not coming readily to hand.

    Does anybody have this info?


    The six charges (none / 0) (#89)
    by barbarajmay on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:13:00 AM EST
    Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor. These charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

    excuse me (none / 0) (#121)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:06:45 PM EST
    Unlawful intercourse with a person below the age of consent ("statutory rape")?

    that is not what happened.


    The victim wants to stop being smeared. (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by DeputyHeadmistress on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 05:16:57 PM EST
    Whenever I have read a full account of the victim expressing a desire that the case be dropped, she expressly says she has no sympathy for Polanski, but that every time this comes up the media crucifies her, her mother, and her family and she finds that quite painful.

    This could be fixed by Polanski apologists such as Anne Applebaum and others simply not blaming the 13 year old child who was plied with alcohol and drugs and then raped while saying "no."  Since most defenses of Polanski include some element of 'she was asking for it,' so it's no wonder she keeps saying she's over it, please leave her alone.

    Polanski was fine with his attorneys making it clear to the victim and her family that they would drag her name through the mud if the case went to trial, that they make her own sexual history part of the case (as though having sex twice at 13 makes you fair game for a 44 year old man), so it's no wonder the family accepted the plea bargain and later civil suit.

    Polanski went on after this rape to have a sexual affair with a 15 year old girl, to tell the media that everybody, after all, wants to have sex with little girls, and to say that he can't believe he is being prosecuted simply for 'making love.'

    He knew the girl was 13. He had consent forms for the photograph session stating her age, and he testified that he knew she was 13 years old.

    I find any defense of him absolutely outside my ability to comprehend.



    can you link (none / 0) (#135)
    by Turkana on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 08:53:31 PM EST
    to her saying such? and why wasn't he prosecuted for having an affair with a 15 year old?

    btw (1.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Turkana on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:32:35 PM EST
    off topic, but susan atkins died in prison, last night.

    she died a few days ago (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:35:56 PM EST
    you can comment on that here.

    I just hope he is somehow freed and (3.00 / 2) (#9)
    by athyrio on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:55:02 PM EST
    can be allowed to go back to his life in France...this is obviously not about justice but some type of revenge...

    no (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:14:50 PM EST
    it is about justice.  Time doesn't make what he did okay.  He was given a chance to plea to something pathetically far short of the crime he actually committed and even at that he felt he shouldn't have to pay for his crime.  
    I don't feel sorry for him even if "The Pianist" is one of my top five favorite films of all time.

    France (3.00 / 2) (#77)
    by Potfry on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 11:00:24 PM EST
    I do believe that living with the French for three decades is punishment enough.

    WSWS on documentary "Wanted and Desired" (2.00 / 0) (#1)
    by Andreas on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 12:22:24 PM EST
    There is a section on "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" in a WSWS report on the Sydney Film Festival:

    The feature-length documentary exposes how hysterical media reportage and the illegal behaviour of presiding Judge Laurence J. Rittenband made a fair hearing of the case for Polanski and Geimer impossible.

    Zenovich provides some background detail about the tragic circumstances of Polanski's early life--the murder of his Jewish parents, the Nazi occupation of Poland--and the terrible psychological impact of the murder of his pregnant actress wife, Sharon Tate, and four others in California in August 1969. Scandalously some section of the American media initially claimed that Polanski was involved in satanic drug rituals and suggested that he had murdered his wife.

    Judge Laurence J. Rittenband Judge Laurence J. Rittenband briefs the media

    Rittenband, who had presided over the Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce and other celebrity cases, however, was determined to use the Polanski case to lift his public profile. The judge ignored recommendations from the parole board and two court-appointed psychiatrists that Polanski be given parole and conspired to try and imprison the filmmaker.

    The judge, in fact, lied to defence and prosecution lawyers, held a press conference during the trial and privately discussed possible jail terms for Polanski with various outsiders, including a Santa Monica journalist who he invited into his chambers. It was under these conditions that the filmmaker decided to flee to Europe in February 1978, where he has lived ever since.

    Sydney Film Festival 2009--Part 3: Some perceptive documentaries
    By Richard Phillips and Ismet Redzovic, 13 July 2009

    Andreas (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by lentinel on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:00:53 PM EST
    Are you disputing the facts in the case?

    he's citing the pertinent facts (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:24:21 PM EST
    of the case. If you want to review what you think are the facts of the offense, there probably are plenty of sites doing that. There wasn't a trial, he pleaded guilty in exchange for a certain sentence, which his lawyers informed right before sentencing the Judge intended not to impose.

    I saw the Wanted/Desired documentary... (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 07:03:59 PM EST
    I have nothing against your comment Andreas. My response is more to the documentary than what you've said.

    Imho, Polanski came off as an unrepentant, elitist, pri@k. Yes, I do know his attitude is not against the law. And I do feel badly about the tragic early loss of his family and the later tragic loss of his wife, Sharon Tate. However, Polanski's horrific life events leave me all the more puzzled by the total lack of empathy that enabled him to drug, rape, and sodomize a 13 year old girl.

    This interview clip from the documentary is quite instructive - although it will, no doubt, mean different things to different people. I was particularly struck by his smirk and what I perceive as the irony in a comment he makes toward the end. Enjoy, if that's the right word.



    Has he never traveled before this to (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:48:20 PM EST
    a country with an extradition treaty with U.S.?  Kind of surprising.  Perhaps LA DA's office will decline to extradite?  All governments in CA are in dire financial straits, after all.  

    Answer: yes. Germany and he owns (none / 0) (#59)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:39:09 PM EST
    a home in Switzerland.

    Wow (none / 0) (#18)
    by eric on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:59:50 PM EST
    were you there?  I would love to hear your story!

    Were you? (none / 0) (#20)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:05:23 PM EST
    The victims story has been published.

    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:28:13 PM EST
    for making a false statement. Polanski served 42 days in the psych ward of a maximum security prison before his guilty plea. As the CNN article I linked to above states:

    But the original judge in the case, who is now dead, first sent the director to maximum-security prison for 42 days while he underwent psychological testing. Then, on the eve of his sentencing, the judge told attorneys he was inclined to send Polanski back to prison for another 48 days.

    Polanski fled the United States for France, where he was born.

    Thanks for the clarity. (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:37:01 PM EST
    I was wondering what happened to that comment.  
    BTW, 42 days for psych eval?  That's a deal.  All depressed, lonely, pedopheliacs, the line forms to the left....

    I suspect the trial judge exercised his (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:49:28 PM EST
    discretion to send Polanski for a 90-day max evaluation to assist the judge in determining whether Polanski was a suitable candidate for probation, as opposed to state prison.  Apparently the evaluation came back in sooner than 90 days.  This type of evaluation is not uncommon in CA.  

    Oculus, please read the pleadings (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:24:10 PM EST
    I am correct re statutory evaluation. (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:19:23 PM EST
    See page 5, footnote, of defendant's motion to dismiss.  

    Did defendant ever make a motion to set aside the plea?  Quite a different matter to move, years after FTA, to dismiss case entirely.


    I cheer every dismisal (none / 0) (#98)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:31:10 AM EST
    and every not guilty verdict....

    The current balance tilts way too far in favor of the prosecution....


    yeah (none / 0) (#119)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 07:59:12 PM EST
    we really should not be prosecuting 44 year old men who drug and rape 13 year old girls.  It's so unfair when you consider that they have sexual needs that just aren't as fun to meet with their right hands.  Much Much better to use your status as a famous director to get a little girl to your friends house and then rape her.

    Had the judge sent Polanski back (5.00 / 4) (#33)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:44:57 PM EST
    to prison for another 48 days, he would have spent a grand total of 90 days for having sex with a 13 year old child.

    Somehow, I don't consider that excessive punishment for his crime.  Wonder what the normal sentence for a 44 year old man having sex with a 13 year old child would be.


    Penal Code provides for 90-day max (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:20:15 PM EST
    for evaluation pre-sentencing.

    That's for evaluation (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:39:43 PM EST
    What was the normal sentencing for the actual offense?

    Judge probably had choice of (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:43:44 PM EST
    state prison (1-3 yrs.) or probation for statutory rape.

    Actually, I can't locate CA (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 05:08:06 PM EST
    Penal Code section 261.5 as it read at the time of commission of the crime. Defendant's brief re motion to dismiss case miscites as "161.5" and doesn't include the entire statute.  

    Are penalties that much different (none / 0) (#62)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:49:24 PM EST
    between states? Didn't that AA 18 yr. boy (can't remember his name) get a much larger sentence for having consensual sex with an underaged girl?l

    Each state legislature sets sentencing (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:51:26 PM EST
    parameters or indeterminate sentencing.  And defines what is a crime in that particular state.

    Yes, penalties can vary radically (5.00 / 3) (#69)
    by Peter G on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 07:25:57 PM EST
    between states for what is essentially the same offense.  As Oculus says, it's up to each state's legislature.  You are thinking of the case in Georgia a few years ago, MO.  In addition, most states have "Romeo & Juliet clauses" that penalize statutory rape much less severely when the defendant is relatively close in age to the underage victim.  Not so with Polansky, of course.

    "Romeo and Juliet clauses" New (none / 0) (#70)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 07:30:23 PM EST
    one for me!

    If you are talking about the Georgia case (none / 0) (#99)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:33:27 AM EST
    it was a horrible travesty.....No need to use an injustice as a correct measure or gauge for other cases....

    Given the era, (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:21:00 PM EST
    there were a number of factors which made this a 'lesser crime' than it would be at this point in time.

    In 1978, there was considerably less public awareness regarding the sexual abuse of children. There was also much more cultural acceptance of consensual coupling between young women and much older men in positions of power (i.e. male professors and their female students). And, in all likelihood, drugging a child would now be viewed as a more grievous offense than it was in the free-wheeling 70s.

    Mo Blue, I know you meant no harm by describing Polanski as "having sex" with his victim. But for the sake of factual accuracy, the most benign thing we can call this is statutory rape. The girl was a child incapable of giving consent even if she had not been drugged by Polanski.

    All things considered, I think it's safe to say if some 'average' guy committed this crime today, he'd be going away for a very long time. Polanski, with the wealth and fame? Who knows.


    Your point is well taken (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 09:22:59 PM EST
    I agree with you that my description was sorely inaccurate. In my unwillingness to call it statutory rape because I felt it went well beyond that, I inadvertently gave it even less meaning. Thank you for the correction.

    Regardless of the era, I can not  excuse drugging a child and preying on them sexually.


    There are a couple of Polanski comments (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 10:50:18 PM EST
    on the Sunday night open thread. Here's a LINK to the original indictment of all 6 counts.

    BTW, I don't doubt your wisdom on the issues Mo Blue.


    People really lose (none / 0) (#21)
    by eric on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:09:38 PM EST
    their minds about this case.  And their seems to be a great correlation between right-wingers and the anti-Polanski crowd.  I wonder why this is.  Blood-thirst?

    Well (5.00 / 7) (#22)
    by jbindc on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:22:10 PM EST
    I don't think you have to be a right-winger to think that a grown man having sex with a 13 year old girl is wrong.  I guess the real test would be if, instead of a famous Hollywood director, he was a right-wing televangelist who had evaded justice for 30+ years.  Maybe he won't spend time in jail, and maybe he shouldn't, because maybe there really was a problem with the judge, but the fact is, it wasn't up to him to just walk away and not face the music.  Call me silly, but I don't think it's ok for people to ignore laws that are inconvenient for them personally.

    Moral of the story - don't get underage girls high and then have sex with them and then run to Europe when you are about to be sentenced.


    Aren't you swayed by the fact "France (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:26:28 PM EST
    is outraged"?  Me neither.  

    Well, gosh (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by jbindc on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:36:13 PM EST
    if France is outraged, then that changes my whole view! <snark>

    no one is justifying having sex with an (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:34:12 PM EST
    underage girl. Regardless of the offense, he was entitled to be treated fairly. He gave up his right to a trial in exchange for a sentence concession that was going to be denied him. He should be entitled, at a minimum, to withdraw the plea. If there was misconduct on the part of the prosecutor or judge, the case should be dismissed.

    In the 30 plus years he's been gone, he's lived under a cloud and the threat of extradition. He hasn't committed another crime. He's not a threat to anyone.


    Yes (5.00 / 4) (#31)
    by jbindc on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:38:39 PM EST
    He should be entitled, at a minimum, to withdraw the plea.

    But he would have to have come back to the US to do that.  He chose not to. Again - just because you don't like the sentence you're going to get, or if you think you've been treated unfairly does not give you the right to flee and expect no consequences.


    that's not what happened (none / 0) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:25:34 PM EST
    If you aren't going to familiarize yourself with the facts of the case, please refrain from commenting.

    Point taken. (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:46:05 PM EST
    With all due respect, perhaps you should have included this in your posting.  As it is, there is a U.S. justice system that has not been served by Polanski's fleeing.

    I am absolutely certain Polanski had (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 02:46:52 PM EST
    the right to file a motion to withdraw his plea in light of the judge's inclination not to honor the plea bargain.  But instead Polanski chose to flee the jurisdiction pending sentencing.

    The point is that his motion to withdraw the plea (none / 0) (#39)
    by scribe on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:00:59 PM EST
    would have been a futile gesture.  The judge was inclined to throw the book at him because he was from Hollywood, and almost certainly would have declined to allow him to withdraw the plea.

    The only option left to him - if he wanted to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison - would have been to flee.


    The judge was incline to throw the (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by MO Blue on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:33:13 PM EST
    book at him? Per the CNN article Jeralyn cited and her comment #26, this is what the judge was inclined to do.

    Then, on the eve of his sentencing, the judge told attorneys he was inclined to send Polanski back to prison for another 48 days.

    Somehow, 48 days does not qualify as my interpretation of a judge throwing the book at him. If you add the 42 days he spent in prison while he underwent psychological testing and the additional 48 days that the judge was considering, Polanski would have spent a total of 90 days in prison.  


    He probably isn't a threat to (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by hairspray on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:13:53 PM EST
    young girls anymore, of course.  We presume he has been in exile leading an examplary life.  But fleeing the country in the nick of time seems as though some restitution or closure should happen over this. But I agree with others that "aw, let him go, he has suffered enough" just doesn't cut it for me.  

    Tate and Gailey seem (none / 0) (#81)
    by beowulf888 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:42:18 AM EST
    Well, after watching that propaganda video that FoxHoleAtheist posted, I was struck by how much Samantha Gailey resembled Sharon Tate. And despite the tone of moral outrage, the video certainly plays up the sexy innocence of the young Gailey. It's ironic that who ever put this video together exploits Gailey as minor. I suspect that, if she hadn't been a model, her identity (and the glam photos of her they used in the video) would have been unavailable for public consumption. Moreover, whoever created this video montage doesn't bother interview her as an adult -- and they don't care what she thinks now. She's just a permanently sexy little minor who got molested -- and anything she says as adult would prejudice their case against Polanski. Sorry, my cynicism is coming through!

    One last thing, beowulf... (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:02:58 AM EST
    We'll see if your "cynicism" is a welcome addition to Talk Left. If your comment meets the definition of desirable discourse I, for one, am done.

    It is no secret, I disagree with Jeralyn's unilateral pro-Polanski position. However, the film clip I linked to up-thread is not some little amateur anti-Polanski "propaganda video montage". It is actually the introduction to a primarily pro-Polanski feature length HBO documentary film, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, first noted on this thread by Andreas.

    It has made the rounds of every major film festival. Here is a review of said film, from the Sundance Film Festival. It is available on HBO - you can probably rent it too.

    Now I'm really out of here. Congratulations, you are the straw that broke the camel's back.


    Heh. (none / 0) (#91)
    by Fabian on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 06:01:30 AM EST
    She herself said that she was essentially tired of being the thirteen year old who was raped by Polanski.  I agree.  And if this whole thing had been settled once upon a time, there would be no continually dragging out the footage, the photos and the story.

    Why doesn't someone do a documentary about what a wonderful human being she is?


    Idiot lawyering waives red flag at prosecutors (none / 0) (#83)
    by liberalpatriot on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:21:48 AM EST
    The 2008 motion by Polanski's lawyers to dismiss was idiocy. It was doomed to fail as the court had no jurisdiction over the person, Polanski, as he was not in court. It could only have been made to generate fees and/or publicity. The truthfulness of what is in the motion can not be resolved by declarations and I suspect that something set out in the declarations are erroneous. Note that the joint statement in Exhibit C to Dalton's declaration does not say that both lawyers agreed that the judge wanted a televised hearing. That appears to be a sensitive point and it angered the judge. Also the allegatins of the initial judicial misconduct may be specious.
    What is known is that Polanski needs to come to court and his continued scoffing at the law has set the stage for the current DA to get publicity as well as an opportunity for everybody else including the DA's office and judge to get redemption.Never motivate the DA against your client.
    The public has no sympathy for sex crime violators and escaped criminals so the DA has everyhthing to gain. It is doubtful if Polanski will ever see the same deal offered as he will be charged and imprisoned for failing to appear.
    No judge or DA will be willing to work a deal now. That motion in 2008 was bad lawyering as certain things in the sausage making process of getting a deal should never see the light of the day.
    They recently conducted a sweep in LA for all those who failed to appear so Polanski is just one but the most prominent.
    Remember there is the element of deterrence in this case; however he now faces the motive of vindictiveness which can be truly dangerous to the well being of the accused

    your comment is wrong in (none / 0) (#106)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:40:16 PM EST
    almost every respect. The motion was excellent, the Judge said had Polanski been at the hearing, he was likely to toss the case. The sweep in LA was of individuals with outstanding warrants who the LAPD judged to be members of LA's most violent gang. It was a very focused sweep conducted for public safety. Big difference.

    If he's returned, I believe the most likely outcome is either the judge will sentence him to time served per the original agreement or throw out the guilty verdict for judicial misconduct and the case will be dismissed.


    Polanski entered a change of plea. (none / 0) (#136)
    by oculus on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 03:27:57 PM EST
    First of all, (none / 0) (#84)
    by JamesTX on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:55:23 AM EST
    I realize that I am automatically committing social suicide by saying it, but our laws about sex with minors have gotten way out of hand. They are reactionary political acts dreamed up to attract the support of young people who are naturally supportive of attitudes which ostracize old men who make sexual advances toward them.

    I am not saying sex with adolescents is acceptable. I am saying it doesn't warrant life imprisonment -- or anything close. The maniacal rage against older males who have sex with teenagers is the product of the conservative movement, and it was promoted in the late 70s and 80s as a political tool --  a strategy to re-align attitudes of white middle class young people toward authoritarianism. Yes, at the time of this offense, people like Polanski simply weren't seen as public enemy number one. That is, provided the kid they hit on was female. If it was an old man hitting on a male, then they made retching noises and killed them.

    If you recall what was happening in those days, nobody much liked authority or the police. Richard Nixon had resigned in disgrace. The small but powerful right wing had just declared the "war on drugs", but "drugs" weren't really what they are today. In those days, "drugs" (marijuana and cocaine) was a political proxy for liberal attitudes, youthful sexual freedom, and all those things the conservatives hated. Even today's neocons, who preach greed and hate, were getting high then. The purpose of the whole sex pervert chase thing was to re-align white middle class young people with police authority, and since police authority was identified in those days with marijuana hatred, something had to be done to help cajole middle class young white people begin to identify with police authority again.

    So, public enemy number one was switched from "pot-head" to "old male sex pervert". The police began lifting up on pot prosecution for middle class kids, and everybody became one big happy family under the new, improved social model where the number one national value was seeking to hang old horny males by the balls. The police regained their respect, and pot smokers started voting Republican and smoking their dope in the back of Mercedes Benz automobiles with a "Don't bust me -- I'm on your team -- Go after sex perverts" sign in the back window. They could even smoke with their police friends now, and trade stories about what they would do to an old horny man if he hit on them.

    The drug laws and distribution networks were reorganized to take the heat off middle class white kids and put it back in the Black ghetto where it belonged, and everybody had a big party on Wall Street complete with police guards, cocaine and a new sense of national pride which involved absolute deference to authority (because, obviously, authority was now our friend).

    Young people made a sport out of calling for more and more absurd sentences for old horny men, and the drug laws kept escalating in the ghetto (but not on Wall street). Everybody was happy. Everything went well. Until the ugly truth finally ate the bottom out of the whole system of reasoning.

    I was seduced by a 44 year old when I was 15. I don't want that person nailed to tree. In some cases, some punishment is in order, but for the most part, these people just need therapy.

    Roman Polanski's decision to return to his homeland rather than get caught up in a maniacal, nonsensical, politically motivated rage movement actually makes a lot of sense. If you were somewhere abroad and about to be hung for something that was a relatively minor offense in US, wouldn't you come home? How about forty lashes and having your head off for that Martini? Or maybe just catch the next plane back to New York?

    If Roman Polanski is sent here, he'll spend the rest of his life in prison. That is simply not justice, and I can't help it if the average American can't see why.

    The maximum sentence would (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:53:09 AM EST
    be statutory maximum for violation of California Penal Code section 261.5 (probably 3 yrs.) and the FTA.  Hardly "a lifetime in prison."  

    there is sio much crazy here (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 07:38:11 PM EST
    I don't know where to start.
    The girl was not seduced she was drugged and raped.   The move to crack down on older men having sex with, or raping teen age girls was not some sort of ridiculous conspiracy like the one you cooked up, but rather and out crop of society saying "just because a child has breasts, doesn't make her fair game".  It was the woman's movement which inspired some of this and NONE to soon.
    Shame on you.  You are a man who was "seduced" not raped by a man who should have known better.  IF you liked it, fine.  But it was still wrong and had you been my son, he would be sorry.
    Polanski is not a victim, he is a man who didn't have decent boundaries and felt entitled in the age of "if it feels good do it", to take what he wanted.  He was and probably still is, a pervert. Whether he has or has not raped any more 13 year-olds is hardly the point.

    Sorry, but age doesn't change someone from a perpetrator to to harmless, as some survivors of Grandfather incest can surely tell you.

    What is at hand here is that regardless that he is old or a great director or any other circumstance, he fled justice. His victim doesn't get to say what happens to him (whatever his punishment is, it will not be harsh...so why the ridiculous hyperbole?). What matters here is that other people should not feel that they can drug and rape a child and get away with it.


    Perhaps so, but (none / 0) (#126)
    by JamesTX on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:19:33 AM EST
    I have a right to my story.

    From my understanding, there is, as usual, some amount of dispute in regard to the amount of assent involved. There are also many contextual details that make it not exactly as it has been painted -- that is, violent and forcible rape. I am not defending the act, and to accuse me of such is to build a straw man. I am just certain there are many things about it we all don't know, and if it had been as it is now painted, I don't think the guy would have been let out so quickly.

    I want to make a couple of important things clear about me and my case. First, I didn't say I liked it, and I didn't say it was right. It is not a good memory for me, and it makes it worse when others put words in my mouth. I said I don't think the person should be punished. And I know for a fact it wasn't as some describe -- a careless and selfish act brought on by the context of the "if it feels good do it" society with diminished boundaries. It was an isolated act perpetrated by a sick person largely in the context of chance and poor judgment. These people are not always animals. They are often ordinary humans who, under some circumstances, made bad choices. The survivor mantra regarding recidivism and the idea that all people who do this are somehow fundamentally different from other humans, and remain different all their lives, is just not true. The survivor movement has created that stereotype out of thin air. Scientific evidence is to the contrary. They actually re-offend at a lower rate than other classes of convicts.

    Arguing for the restoration of reason and balance in this issue is not the same as supporting sex with minors, just like arguing against the war on drugs is not the same as saying addiction is good. I should re-affirm that I hold to the basic belief that most people have. It is wrong. It is clearly wrong. I am not arguing otherwise. What I am saying is that the reaction to it has surpassed anything remotely related to reason. The reaction is just as bad, if not worse, than the act. The cure has become more harmful than the disease. Most of these people really don't deserve incredibly harsh punishment. I realize some of them -- I suspect very few -- actually do fit the stereotype of "predator" or "animal" that the survivor movement has created. But not all of them -- nowhere close to all. These people are often fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, people that others depend on and love. Their qualities, like most people, include both good and bad behavior and traits. I agree that they should probably get some form of punishment in many cases, but not the mandatory, life-destroying, hate-driven social death that they get now whenever the legal criteria are met.

    I am sorry that I can't agree with you, but just like those in the very vocal survivor movement, I have my story and I have a right to tell it. Others have a right to know that all victims don't think the way the survivors think, and that some of us think that the system is out of hand. I don't think I should be shamed for that. You are free to have your opinion, but I have a right to mine. I will go to the grave with my secret, because the world is incapable of dealing rationally with the person who did this to me, and I will not be a party to such grave injustice.


    What's entirely missing (4.00 / 4) (#94)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 09:15:32 AM EST
    in  your long, sad apologia for sexual offenders is a single statement of concern for the horrible effects of such behavior on children. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only thing anyone needs to know about people like you.

    What is missing (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by JamesTX on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:53:39 PM EST
    from your restatement of the typical hyperbole associated with American attitudes on this topic is the fact that many people who experience these things don't hold your point of view. I was a victim, and I don't see the effects as "horrible", nor do I think they always are "horrible". I also know other victims who don't beat your drum. I think it is time we speak up, instead of allowing you and others like you to define a part of human experience and demonize a category of people who are often not the "terrible people" you would have us believe.

    Again, I don't advocate for sex with minors, but "sex with minors" encompasses a tremendous range of behavior with an incredibly diverse set of consequences, meanings and culpability. Lumping all of those behaviors under one category, and declaring all the perpetrators as evil and deserving of the worst of inhuman treatment is just wrong.

    I don't mind you speaking for yourself and those you know, but you can't speak for everyone who knows something first hand about this issue. We don't all see it your way, and many of us don't want our life experiences associated with your hate and its consequences.


    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:09:58 PM EST
    'my hate'?? yeah, sure, my hate....

    and 'sex with minors'? nice euphemism - he drugged and raped a 13 year old.

    but nice try.


    Nobody is (none / 0) (#113)
    by JamesTX on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:35:35 PM EST
    "trying" anything. But that phrase is, I think, a little bit telling regarding what you are probably in this for. You are in it for the thrill of trapping people and watching them try to escape, aren't you? You sort of enjoy that, don't you? You see me as someone who is trying to escape your airtight hold, and you are taunting me with your "nice try" comment.

    I am just a victim telling my point of view. If you cared about victims, you wouldn't be so quick to condemn. But, you know, I don't think you care about victims. Like many others of your kind, you aren't in this for the victims. You're in it for the hate -- the power to destroy helpless people and to focus that awful social anger on weak people and watch them suffer. You like it.

    No, nobody is "trying" anything. I'm just stating my experience and the way I feel about it. I have a right to do that. Why is it so important that you discredit me? Am I some kind of threat?

    There is another side to this issue that deserves airing, and everybody doesn't feel the way you do. We have been silent for these past few decades in which you and your ilk have been creating one of the most deplorable criminal justice nightmares in world history, and doing so under the false pretense of helping people like me -- victims of sexual abuse. But we aren't going to stay silent and let you continue to define this issue by default, and to use our misfortune to promote your own agenda of hate. You aren't going to do this in my name. I don't need people like you to avenge my abuse. I don't share your hate. I'm not like you. You aren't everybody, and you don't speak for everybody. Again, you are free to speak for yourself and those you know, but you aren't everybody, and I have a right to voice my experience and my point of view.


    If Roman Polanski is returned (none / 0) (#88)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:00:45 AM EST
    I doubt he'll spend any time in prison. The judge all but said had Polanski been present for the hearing on his motion, he'd toss the case due to the misconduct of the judge and non-involved prosecutor. The prosecutor admitted to it on tape in the film. Neither that prosecutor's conduct or the judge's misconduct (in conducting the ex parte communications, misusing the media, intending to deny Polanski the opportunity to address the probation report and improperly demanding voluntary deportation) seem to be in dispute. When combined with the victim's desire the case be dropped and Polanski's exile for 30 years, as well as the original probation report that recommended no jail, with which the prosecutor assigned to the case agreed, I think the result will be he either gets the agreed upon sentence -- 42 days of time served -- or the case gets thrown out on misconduct grounds. But Polanski shouldn't have to be dragged here in chains to achieve it.

    he is hardly being dragged her in chains (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 07:46:07 PM EST
    He is being brought back to get his slap on the wrist.  Much less than what he deserves.  He should have stayed and faced the music when he was in his forties.  It is his fault that he is having to face this at 76.
    Do you remember those days?  Where you old enough?  It was a time when drugs and social/sexual revolution gave people the idea that anything went and as a teen ager at the time, I can attest to the fact that lots of men acted like pigs who thought they were entitled to sexual satisfaction from anyone at any time.  Liberal men were the worst.

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#93)
    by jnicola on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 09:02:31 AM EST
    I'm been arguing precisely that this is the likely outcome over at CrunchyCon on Beliefnet, where this is not the most popular point of view. Would it be OK if I quoted your comment over there, please?

    sure James, go right ahead (none / 0) (#104)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:29:04 PM EST
    good thread you have going over there, I read through the comments earlier. Most seemed focused on the legal issues rather than the raw emotional reaction to the offense.

    Thanks. (none / 0) (#107)
    by jnicola on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:46:04 PM EST
    A few of the commenters are trying to stick to the facts, but given the post Rod's just put up, I doubt that this is going to last.

    Thanks Jeralyn. (none / 0) (#103)
    by JamesTX on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:09:59 PM EST
    I am not an expert in such matters, and I realize you are correct. But what will actually happen legally and what the public will demand are two different things. If he isn't severely punished, it will fuel the rhetoric of the people who demand the worst of punishments for people like Polanski, and they will fill the airwaves with complaints about him being "let off the hook". That is, the typical American will see him as deserving life in prison.

    Notice to new commenters (none / 0) (#90)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:15:17 AM EST
    Please read the comment rules. You may not use profanity here. I just deleted a comment with an objectionable phrase.

    In re Roman Polanski , . . . (none / 0) (#92)
    by Doc Rock on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:28:29 AM EST
    . . . is contemptible and I have no sympathy for him. On the other hand, it is tragic that periodically this victim has had to be confronted again and again with the pain and humiliation and have her family dragged into the headlines. The ambitious prosecutors, in light on the victim's filing, are nearly as contemptible as Polanski himself.

    Ah, but (5.00 / 2) (#96)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:20:27 AM EST
    Had Polanski not fled the jurisdciton at the time, and just taken his punishment, the victim would not have to be confronted "again and again" with this.  Think about it - we heard about this again at the Oscars when Polanski was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in absentia, and guess what topic came up?

    Don't blame the prosecutors for the victim having to relive this over and over.


    WSWS on arrest of Roman Polanski (none / 0) (#97)
    by Andreas on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:09:11 AM EST
    The WSWS writes:

    Expressions of shock and anger are mounting internationally over the arrest Saturday night of Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski. ...

    "I think this is awful and totally unjust," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters. "Just as there is an America which is generous and which we like," he added, "so there is an America which is frightening, and that is the America which has just revealed its face."

    Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski announced that he was considering requesting clemency for Polanski from US President Barack Obama. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he had asked his Swiss counterpart to ensure that Polanski's rights are fully respected and that a "favorable solution" is rapidly found.

    Calls for the release of Polanski have been combined with anger towards the US government and disgust over the Swiss government's compliance with US demands. ...

    Since fleeing the US, Polanski has resided in France, while frequently visiting Poland, Germany and other countries where he felt he would not be subject to extradition to the US. He has continued to make films, including a film entitled The Ghost which he shot last spring in Babelsberg, Germany, near where he filmed The Pianist.

    According to the New York Times, the film is "a thriller about a ghostwriter whose life is put in jeopardy after he uncovers secrets while completing the memoirs of a former British prime minister." Polanski's arrest could block release of the film.

    Robert Harris, a British novelist who has been working with Polanski over the past several years, writing two screenplays, expressed outrage over the director's arrest. "I am shocked," he said in a statement, "that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion." He added, "It's hard not to believe that this heavy-handed action must be in some way politically motivated.".

    International protests against arrest of film director Roman Polanski
    By Barry Grey, 28 September 2009

    Polansky's 13 y/o victim (none / 0) (#101)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:08:10 PM EST
    was paid off very well in an out of court settlement.

    I would imagine that has a rather large bearing on her apparent preference that this whole thing just "go away."

    And I guess she's psychic too (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by jnicola on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 03:15:38 PM EST
    Because she first asked for him to serve no jail time in 1977, more than a decade before she brought the civil suit.

    Could you provide links (none / 0) (#111)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:10:26 PM EST
    to support both parts of your comment?

    Jeralyn already has. (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by jnicola on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:19:37 PM EST
    The letters are annexed out as exhibits in the Motion to Dimiss, and referenced in the Victim's Petition. The probation report (also in the Motion to dismiss) also states that neither the victim nor her mother wanted Polanski to undergo jail time.

    As for the civil case - this states that it was not settled until 1993 .


    Fair enough. Thanks. (none / 0) (#114)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:35:57 PM EST