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Monday, September 28, 2009

Switzerland Arrests Roman Polanski - Justice 30 Years Later

Flashback, long story short.

31 years ago Roman Polanski drugged, raped and sodomized a 13 year-old girl, who has since forgiven him, and was arrested, stood trial, plead guilty, and then fled the country before sentencing.

Fast forward 30 years later.

Roman Polanski is a film director, whom the French have kept from being extradited for decades and he was on his way to the Zurich Film Festival, when Swiss authorities arrested him, acting on a request from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, who has sent out warrants every time Polanski went outside of France where he was being protected from arrest.

"There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. He rejected the idea that politics may have played a part in the action.

Previous attempts to nab Polanski when he left France were thwarted because authorities didn't learn of his travel soon enough — or Polanski didn't make the trip, said William Sorukas, chief of the U.S. Marshals Service's domestic investigations branch.

"This is not the first time we have done this over the years," said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. She said warrants had been sent out whenever rumors circulated that he would be traveling to a country outside France.

In this case, the honor for Polanski's work proved to be his downfall, Gibbons said.

"It was publicized on the Internet that he was going to be at the Zurich Film Festival," Gibbons said. "They were selling tickets online."

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the director will remain in Zurich until the conclusion of the extradition proceedings. The United States now has 60 days to file a formal request for Polanski's transfer, she said.

France is planning to ask Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to offer Polanski clemency.

It gets more interesting though, as a preface, here is an excerpt from Washington Post's story on Polanski's arrest:

Polanski also received support from Poland, where he moved as a toddler and avoided capture by the Nazis, who put his mother to death in a concentration camp. "I am considering approaching the American authorities over the possibility of the U.S. president proclaiming an act of clemency, which would settle the matter once and for all," said Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, according to the PAP news agency.


Patterico's Pontifications points to a piece in Wapo's Post Partisan, written by Anne Applebaum, titled "The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski", where she defends Polanski and claims that not being able to return to Los Angeles to claim an Oscar and not being able to direct or cast a film in Hollywood, has been ways he has "paid for his crime."

Patterico's point here is that Applebaum does not bother to disclose that her husband is Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, quoted above, who is actively trying to get clemency for Polanski, in his official capacity.

One has to wonder exactly how screwed up Hollywood is, that they would even consider allowing Polanski to be nominated for any type of award over the years being that he is a fugitive, but worse, his crime of raping, drugging and sodomizing a 13 yr-old child.

In another Patterico piece, he points to a ridiculous LA Times' article arguing it would be too expensive to bring this child rapist to justice and he reminds people of exactly what Polanski did to that 13 yr old, via her own words in her grand jury testimony:

I can think of few crimes that are more deserving of punishment than drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl. And that’s what Polanski did. While I recognize that my office allowed Polanski to plead to a lesser charge because of his fame — the girl was reluctant to testify once it became clear that her anal rape would be discussed in international media for weeks — the girl’s grand jury testimony speaks for itself:

A. Then he lifted up my legs and went in through my anus.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. He put his penis in my butt.

. . . .

Q. Do you know whether he had a climax?

A. Yes.

Q. And how do you know that?

A. Because I could kind of feel it and it was in my underwear. It was in my underwear. It was on my butt and stuff.

Q. When you say that, you believe that he climaxed in your anus?

A. Yes.

Q. What does climax mean?

A. That his semen came out.

Q. Do you know what semen is?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see some semen or feel some semen?

A. I felt it.

Q. Where did you feel it?

A. I felt it on the back of my behind and in my underwear when I put them on.

The girl testified that she allowed this to happen because she was afraid of him, adding that Polanski had her take part of a Quaalude, which she washed down with a swallow of champagne.

To me, this crime seems like it’s worth spending money on. Goldstein, by contrast, apparently believes that anal rapes of 13-year-olds are too costly to prosecute — or, at least, if the defendant has managed to escape punishment by fleeing the country, and has obtained the moral support of the victim (whom he paid off in a settlement).

Amazingly enough, some members of the blogosphere actually think Polanski should be freed.

Example, Talk Left with "Outrageous Arrest in Switzerland: Free Roman Polanski."

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...]

Outraged over the "arrest", yet not one word of outrage over Polanski drugging and anally raping a 13 yr-old child.


Huffington Post writer Joan Shore is another one that is outraged over the arrest, yet not the crime and actually says shame on the Swiss for arresting the fugitive Polanski:

Arresting Roman Polanski the other day in Zurich, where he was to receive an honorary award at a film festival, was disgraceful and unjustifiable. Polanski, now 76, has been living in France for over thirty years, and has been traveling and working in Europe unhindered, but the Swiss acted on an old extradition treaty with the U.S. and seized him! The Swiss Justice Ministry will decide whether to extradite him to the United States.

Shore has the audacity to blame the girl's mother for Polanski's crime:

But there is more to this story. The 13-year old model "seduced" by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It's probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence.

Kate Harding, over at Salon, gets it with a piece headlined "Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child."

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.

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? Because that would be great, and not nearly enough people seem to be doing it.

Someone else that gets it, is Lawyers, Guns and Money:

You've probably heard that Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland. I think this is a very good thing, and find most of the outrage over it baffling.

One thing to note here is that Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired was an absolutely appalling whitewash. Bill Wyman has a great deal of detail about this, but you know that you're in for a disgraceful rape apologia when early on the film conveniently truncates the victim's testimony before she actually describes the rape, preserving the illusion that it's a "he said/she said" case even though if you pay attention you'll notice that nobody actually disputes her version of events. The film's portrait of the judge is just as sloppy and morally odious; it's not just that the details about his life are both irrelevant and not very damning (he may have had sexual relations outside the sacred bounds of matrimony! With two women!), but that the attempt to create hypocrisy where there isn't any plays into the fundamental misdirection of the Polanski camp -- i.e. that he was prosecuted for being a European roue just too sexually sophisticated for provincial Americans, not because he raped a 13-year old. And the way in which Zenovich allows people to speculate about the victim's (again, completely irrelevant even if true) possible history of consensual sex is even more disgusting, although it inadvertently reminds us that one reason she probably went along with a far-too-light plea bargain is that she wasn't looking forward to the similar victim-blaming that would have undoubtedly happened in court.

Althouse also takes Applebaum to the woodshed regarding Applebaum's idiotic outrage over the arrest:

Incredible! We're talking about a Washington Post columnist here, who used the corporate pages to write a piece decrying "The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski."

But is that any more absurd than saying he's suffered enough because of all the burdens on his career? Think what this means, generalizing the opinion into an abstract rule. It means that those with high professional standing do not need the usual criminal punishments given to individuals who have very little in this world. Ordinary people must be punished in prison, but big shots are already punished heavily by the mere revelation of their crimes and therefore should be relieved of much or all of the usual prison sentence. Care to sign on to that rule?

Outside the Beltway:

Rape isn’t a tort; it’s a felony. So whether the victim wishes to press charges is irrelevant except as to the practicalities of securing a conviction, which isn’t a problem in this case since Polanski pled guilty.

Patrick Frey, an assistant district attorney in LA whose office is seeking Polanski’s extradition, notes that Polanski “pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, in return for the agreement to dismiss several other charges, including rape and sodomy.” He and a co-blogger remind us of the graphic details of the case, which belie the notion that Polanski is some sort of victim. Let’s just say that the girl in question was drugged and the encounter was otherwise decidedly less than romantic. See also the victim’s grand jury testimony, which makes clear the sex was forcible and that, even drugged with alcohol and Quaaludes, she explicitly denied consent. Which, of course, a 13-year-old can not give under the law.

Snark from Crooked Timber:

See, you or I might think that not going back to the U.S. or U.K. is an action Polanski took in order to make sure that, having raped a minor and fled the country, he would not be rearrested. But you or I would be wrong. In fact these are punishments that Polanski has suffered. But tiens, it was a long time ago. Puritanical Americans simply do not have the enlightened attitude toward wine at the dinner table, quaaludes, and child rape that the Europeans do.

The Smoking Gun provides more details of Polanski's crime:

Two weeks after Polanski plied her with Champagne and a Quaalude, Samantha Gailey appeared before an L.A. grand jury and recalled Polanski's predatory behavior in a Mulholland Canyon home owned by Jack Nicholson.

The teenager's troubling--and contemporaneous--account of her abuse at Polanski's hands begins with her posing twice for topless photos that the director said were for French Vogue. The girl then told prosecutors how Polanski directed her to, "Take off your underwear" and enter the Jacuzzi, where he photographed her naked. Soon, the director, who was then 43, joined her in the hot tub. He also wasn't wearing any clothes and, according to Gailey's testimony, wrapped his hands around the child's waist.

The girl testified that she left the Jacuzzi and entered a bedroom in Nicholson's home, where Polanski sat down beside her and kissed the teen, despite her demands that he "keep away." According to Gailey, Polanski then performed a sex act on her and later "started to have intercourse with me." At one point, according to Gailey's testimony, Polanski asked the 13-year-old if she was "on the pill," and "When did you last have your period?" Polanski then asked her, Gailey recalled, "Would you want me to go in through your back?" before he "put his penis in my butt." Asked why she did not more forcefully resist Polanski, the teenager told Deputy D.A. Roger Gunson, "Because I was afraid of him."

So, dear readers, what do you see as the outrage, the fact a child rapist and fugitive was finally arrested? The fact that it took over 30 years to apprehend him? Or the fact that he raped a 13 yr-old anally?