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Polanski arrested
September 27, 2009 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Film director Roman Polanski, who won numerous awards for films like Chinatown and The Pianist, has been detained for extradition to the US, whilst travelling to Switzerland to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zürich Film Festival.

Polanski spent the past three decades in exile in France, which (unlike Switzerland) has no extradition treaty with the US, after being convicted of having raped a 13-year-old girl at a party. He was nonetheless able to sue for libel in the UK despite being a fugitive there. The victim has asked for charges to be dropped, though Polanski has, until now, been a wanted man in the US. If he is extradited, he faces up to life imprisonment.
posted by acb (581 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares? I think even the victim has requested that he be left alone.
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Roman Polanski Victim Urges Case Dismissal
posted by caddis at 7:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"In the February hearing, [Judge] Espinoza mentioned a documentary film that depicts backroom deals between prosecutors and a media-obsessed judge who was worried his public image would suffer if he didn't send Polanski to prison."

I haven't yet seen the documentary, but I was under the impression that the documentary filmmaker had an agenda with their documentary, portraying Polanski as an innocent victim of an "I swear I didn't know she was 13" situation.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that quote was from this CNN article.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:05 AM on September 27, 2009


I'm sure this has something to do with last year's documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired:

In particular, it explores the dubious actions of Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, whose zeal for celebrity cases was coupled with a vindictive streak against Polanski, who was vilified by much of the American press. Convinced he could not trust Rittenband after a series of rulings against him - including a 42-day stay at a California prison for observation - Polanski finally left the country for good just before his sentencing. He has lived (and been highly honored) in France the last 30 years; his 2003 Best Director Oscar® for The Pianist was awarded to him in absentia. Ironically, shortly after his victim publicly forgave him in 1997, an LA judge decided that if Polanski returned to the U.S., he would serve no more time in custody, on one condition: the proceedings would be televised. Polanski, now 74, has declined to return, and his case remains unresolved.

I bet the case is dismissed.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 AM on September 27, 2009


Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares?

After what period of time should one be able to get away with having raped a 13-year-old girl?
posted by acb at 7:08 AM on September 27, 2009 [138 favorites]


Lots of reviews at the film's official site.
posted by mediareport at 7:08 AM on September 27, 2009


I took a screenwriting class from Spike Lee in college. Much of the class involved making speakerphone calls to people Lee knew and asking them questions about their work. Right before we called Polanski, Lee's face got really serious and he said "If you don't know why he's in France, don't ask him."
posted by escabeche at 7:13 AM on September 27, 2009 [65 favorites]


After what period of time should one be able to get away with having raped a 13-year-old girl?

He's an artist, you fascist! He's nothing like a rapist-plumber or an rapist-accountant.
posted by codswallop at 7:14 AM on September 27, 2009 [64 favorites]


To choose a random example: We tolerate Eliot being an anti-semite because his poetry is that good. As great as Chinatown was, for me, it wasn't good enough to make up for drugging and raping a 13-year old. YMMV.

But I suspect mediareport is right about the case being dismissed. Judicial malfeasance, uncooperative victim... plus all the advances in celebrity legal representation we've seen in the last 30 years.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:14 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


what period of time?
statues of limitations
posted by robbyrobs at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2009


How young would the girl have to have been before you would care? 10? 6? It's amazing to me that the only thing you ever hear about this case is how much grief Polanski's had to put up with. Yeah, life's hard when you live in France and make movies with Harrison Ford and Johnny Depp.

What if the girl was your daughter? If some average guy had raped a thirteen-year-old girl and been on the run for 30 years, then was caught, who would be arguing that we should 'give him a rest?'
posted by Huck500 at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [29 favorites]


Congratulations Switzerland, shame on France and the other countries who shielded him.

(And yes, it's that simple. This isn't a difficult moral problem: he admitted his guilt long ago.)
posted by Sova at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


The statute of limitations for prosecuting non-aggravated rape in Los Ageles is six years, if I read the law correctly. If Polanski had not been tried in absentia, he could not be tried now. Not saying it's right or wrong, just adding that detail to the discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hmph. I like Polanski's movies, but he raped a 13 year old.

On the other hand, that judge sounds like a nutjob.
posted by paulg at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2009


Astro Zombie: "The statute of limitations for prosecuting non-aggravated rape in Los Ageles is six years, if I read the law correctly. If Polanski had not been tried in absentia, he could not be tried now."

I wondered about that. But I assumed that either: 1) his guilty plea made it a moot point, or 2) the statute of limitations clock doesn't run while the accused is fugitive.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:17 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares?

Hilarious.
posted by phaedon at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who wishes that a clearer distinction was made between rape and statutory rape in cases like this? Mistaking someone's age, while a violation of the law, is a much different act than disregarding their age, and both are in a whole other league in comparison to ignoring a person saying no.

So many writeups use the exact same language to describe all three, where the common meaning of the word rape is IMHO on a much different scale than the other two.
posted by idiopath at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2009 [34 favorites]


I don't think the discussion should be about the value of his art. He's made some terrific films, yes, but, then, there's also Pirates.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:19 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Smoking Gun has the victim's grand jury testimony.
posted by mediareport at 7:23 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


who would be arguing that we should 'give him a rest?'

Well, in this case, it's the victim herself, who was a surprise guest at the premier of the HBO documentary. So, yeah, if she's ok with it, I am.
posted by mediareport at 7:26 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


The Paris-born Polish filmmaker - who is also a French citizen - has not set foot in the US for more than 30 years. He has even avoided making films in the UK for fear of extradition.

What a knucklehead. A US court denied his request to have his case dismissed in May. He's aware of the possibility of extradition, depending on where he travels. Surely he can afford to consult an attorney for a list of countries to avoid. If you're going to be an international fugitive, at least act like one.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:26 AM on September 27, 2009


Meant to link: surprise guest
posted by mediareport at 7:27 AM on September 27, 2009


The victim's testimony is pretty intense. Keep in mind she was 13 and he was 43 at the time (warning, not for the squeamish):

Q. What did he say?

A. He asked, he goes, “Are you on the pill?”

And I went, ‘No.”

And he goes, “When did you last have your period?”

And I said, “I don’t know. A week or two, I’m not sure”.

Q. And what did he say?

A. He goes, “Come on. You have to remember.”

And I told him I didn’t.

Q. Did he say anything after that?

A. Yes. He goes, “Would you want me to go in through your back?”

And I went, “No”.

Q. Did he say anything else?

A. No.

Q. How long did he have his penis in your vagina?

A. I can t remember how long, but not a very long time.

Q. Had you had sexual intercourse with anyone before March 10th?

A. Yes.

Q. Approximately how many times?

A. Twice.

Q. How did you know that he had his penis in your vagina?

A. I could tell. I could feel it.

Q. What happened after he says “Do you want me to – “was it go through the back?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened then?

A. I think he said something like right after I said I was not on the pill, right before he said, “Oh, I won’t come inside of you then”.

And I just went– and he goes — and then he put me – wait. Then he lifted up my legs farther and he went in through my anus.

Q. When you say he went in your anus, what do you mean by that?

A. He put his penis in my butt.

Q. Did he say anything at that time?

A. No.

Q. Did you resist at that time?

A. A little bit, but not really because –(pause)

Q. Because what?

A. Because I was afraid of him.
posted by m2002 at 7:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


We tolerate Eliot being an anti-semite because his poetry is that good.
I don't. His poetry is crap, and anti-semitism is wrong. So is rape, no matter when it occurred or how famous the person who committed it.
posted by trip and a half at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


From mediareport's link: Geimer had flown in from Hawaii, "a beautiful spot where no one is aware or even cares"

If she doesn't want anyone to care, I'm more than happy to oblige.
posted by shammack at 7:32 AM on September 27, 2009


mediareport: "Meant to link: surprise guest"

If she wants people to forget her involvement in this crime, she's doing it wrong.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's about time.
posted by lexicakes at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


"her involvement in this crime" is a strange way to put it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:37 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Great m2002, you just did what th victim does not want, replay all the lurid details of this painful memory.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on September 27, 2009


Am I the only one who wishes that a clearer distinction was made between rape and statutory rape in cases like this?

There is also a difference between a 20 year old with a 17 year old girlfriend and a 44 year old man giving Champagne and Quaaludes to a 13 year old girl.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:37 AM on September 27, 2009 [33 favorites]


He gave a 13 year old girl a qualude and champagne, got her naked in his hot tub, and had sex with her. Seems like that would be considered full-blown rape, and not statutory rape these days.

It would certainly be described as rape if it came up on ask metafilter.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:38 AM on September 27, 2009 [30 favorites]


Guys, come on, he's a director. Let's cut him some slack.
posted by phaedon at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2009


Congratulations Switzerland, shame on France and the other countries who shielded him.

And shame on Britain for allowing him to pick and choose which parts of the law applied to him, i.e., sue for libel whilst remaining a fugitive from English law (not to mention asserting, and profiting from, copyrights and moral rights as an author). What happened to the ancient Anglo-Saxon concept of outlawry, where a fugitive lost all protection under the law for the duration of their flight from the law?
posted by acb at 7:42 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jail time for the rape case or no, I am pretty sure that running off to a country with no extradidtion treaty after you are found guilty and before you are sentenced is, as they say in legal circles, illegal. It'd be sad f he died in prison, but I hope they can squeeze a few years in there.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:42 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


ugh, because widespread attitudes like "are his films good enough that we can ignore the fact that he's a noted rapist? Probably!" and "it was so long ago, who cares? This is boring to me now, which obviously means it has no lasting consequences for anyone else" would have nothing to do with a young girl who was raped feeling pressured and intimidated into wanting to drop charges.

This happens all the time in non-celebrity rape cases - girls are pressured into backing down from pressing charges so as not to potentially ruin the life of such a nice boy. This is exactly what's going on here. It doesn't make Roman Polanski any less guilty, or what he's guilty of any less wrong. He's already been convicted - the reason this is being dragged out so long is not because of the victim or the court or the media, it's because he fled the country to avoid the consequences of raping someone. This is entirely his own bed he has made. Why shouldn't he have to sleep in it?
posted by ellehumour at 7:45 AM on September 27, 2009 [65 favorites]


It'd be sad f he died in prison

Would it really?
posted by acb at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


she's doing it wrong.

That's one way to put it. I prefer her take, though:

"Generally for me, it's just easier that if people want to talk to me, I talk to them," she says. "That way they don't sit out in front of my house and wait for me...I'm glad [director Marina Zenovich] put the truth of the way it happened out there, because I don't want to have to tell people," she says. "It's nice that she went ahead and did it, so people can know the truth and I can just go, 'It's a great movie!'"
posted by mediareport at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay. I was reading down through this thread, thinking, Yeah, it was over three decades ago. Let it go. It was not even ten years since his wife had been brutally slaughtered - he probably wasn't in the best head space.

But then I clicked on that Smoking Gun link and read m2002's comment regarding the victim testimony.

Films aside, he is a sexual predator who has been too much of a pussy to face the consequences of his actions. He has been thumbing his nose at these charges for years and this entire situation would have been resolved and forgotten long ago if Polanski had just gone back to the States and faced the fucking music. He raped a thirteen year-old girl who at this point, as a 39 year-old woman, sounds like she just wants this whole thing to go away. Imagine being sexually assaulted and having your private shame be the knowledge of millions of people. Awful.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:49 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


What Polanski did was sleazy, but not as sleazy as "OMG he raped a 13-year-old" would make it sound; it seems clear he didn't know how young the girl was, and had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.

As to how someone could be so stupid -- I once knew a girl who started doing bar crawls when she was twelve (in the 1970's, at about the same time of Polanski's act). She had no trouble at all passing for 20, and people were much less paranoid about such things than they are today. N left a trail of would-be rapists in her wake through her teenage years, one of whom does not know today he has a son (given up for adoption) and two others who I'm sure don't know about the abortions.

Polanski has made restitution and even the victim has called for it to be dropped.

Meanwhile, it is clear that what the judge did was also sleazy, and unlike Polanski it seems he was quite clear on what he was doing and why. Overall, judges who abuse their power bother me a lot more than men who don't think of asking every girl they meet for ID.

Polanski owned up to what he did and has only been asking for a guarantee that he is not facing a railroad should he return. I think that's a reasonable demand and the unreasonable thing here is that he has always faced the possibility of life in prison should he return, a totally ridiculous possibility given what he has admitted to doing, and nobody can figure out how to promise him a reasonable outcome.
posted by localroger at 7:49 AM on September 27, 2009 [23 favorites]


Good riddance.
posted by Atreides at 7:50 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This happens all the time in non-celebrity rape cases - girls are pressured into backing down from pressing charges so as not to potentially ruin the life of such a nice boy

That's really not what's happening here. You're right that it happens a lot and is horrible, but in this case the victim did indeed press charges. They got reduced in a plea deal, and we can argue how much Polanski's celebrity allowed *that* to happen, but when it seemed the judge was going to renege on that deal out of fear for his career or public image or something, Polanski ran. Now she says she'd prefer to drop the charges. I don't see the similarity to the situation you describe at all.
posted by mediareport at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


futureisunwritten, she went to the premier of the documentary. She's hardly in the wilting flower camp. Seriously, read a couple of reviews I linked on the doc's official site. The misconduct by the judge is pretty blatant. At the very least I think you have to consider that element to the story.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: ""her involvement in this crime" is a strange way to put it."

Yeah, that came out odd. I hope it's clear from my other comments that I think she was the victim of a sexual predator. But her appearance at the documentary premiere suggests that "victim" isn't how she sees herself now. And if she doesn't want Polanski prosecuted, we can no longer say that we're seeking justice on her behalf. So she's almost an incidental figure in the story at this point. That's what I was trying to get at.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2009


Justice in this case 50% of all revenues from his products since the day and hour he committed the crime to go to the victim and her family (along with the copyrights) it can be argued that at least a portion of the interest in his work is hand in hand with the notoriety this act has brought him. In other words, she owns everything he has done since that day thus ensuring that his legacy includes the reparations he needs to make.
posted by NiteMayr at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, in this case, it's the victim herself, who was a surprise guest at the premier of the HBO documentary. So, yeah, if she's ok with it, I am.

A. He put his penis in my butt.

Q. Did he say anything at that time?

A. No.

Q. Did you resist at that time?

A. A little bit, but not really because –(pause)

Q. Because what?

A. Because I was afraid of him.

No, I'm still not ok with it.
posted by Huck500 at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Polanski owned up to what he did
even the victim has called for it to be dropped.

Wonderful! Getting off scot-free from statutory rape, in two easy steps:

1) "Oh yeah, I did it."
2) Intimidate the victim into calling for charges to be dropped.

Apparently people don't realize something that should, I think, be obvious: rape messes you up mentally. And in a state of trauma, the victim might just want it to all going away, including any charges against the rapist. This does not mean he's any less guilty.

As to how someone could be so stupid -- I once knew a girl who started doing bar crawls when she was twelve . . . .

Oh Jesus. Really? Victim-blaming much? Yeah, those poor, poor dudes that were lured into that honeypot -- it's not their fault! She was doing bar crawls!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:58 AM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


The "it" refers to dismissing the charges because of judicial misconduct, Huck500, not the crime itself.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 AM on September 27, 2009


. . . to all go away . . .
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:59 AM on September 27, 2009


Forget it, Jake, it's.... Oh, okay, don't.
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What Polanski did was sleazy, but not as sleazy as "OMG he raped a 13-year-old" would make it sound; it seems clear he didn't know how young the girl was, and had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.

I don't think you are going to find many places in the U.S. where providing champagne and quaaludes to a minor then having sex with that minor will not be considered rape.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Intimidate the victim into calling for charges to be dropped.

God, sticking to the facts of this case is going to be impossible, isn't it? I'll give up after this, I promise, but Frobenius Twist, you really need to read before posting. There's no evidence here at all of any intimidation of the victim; she's calling for charges to be dropped for her own reasons.
posted by mediareport at 8:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rape victims will want to forget the rape, drop it and not even testify directly after being raped and it's not because the rape wasn't a big deal-- it's because it was traumatic and when they talk about it, or god forbid, have a defense attorney humiliate them in court they relive the experience.

Every time the Polanski rape comes up in the news, someone will say "Oh, the girl forgives him. She wants to move on.", and every time reporters descend on the girl to harass her about the rape. Clearly she wants to move on so she doesn't have to talk to these fucking vultures any more. Doing this movie probably helps in her in the sense that she doesn't have to talk about it now, she can just say "watch this movie".
posted by stavrogin at 8:05 AM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


There's no evidence here at all of any intimidation of the victim; she's calling for charges to be dropped for her own reasons.

Polanski's stature would have been sufficient to intimidate without him taking any explicit action.
posted by acb at 8:06 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I haven't yet seen the documentary, but I was under the impression that the documentary filmmaker had an agenda with their documentary, portraying Polanski as an innocent victim of an "I swear I didn't know she was 13" situation.

I don't know about that, it does however make the judge seem like an absolute mentalist, and the decision to flee seem entirely reasonable.
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares? I think even the victim has requested that he be left alone.
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on September 27


Raping a 13 year-old girl has effects that reverberate beyond the victim's life. That's why it's People of the State of California v. Roman Raymond Polanski. Further, I have a hard time believing that even you would be so callous and uncaring if Polanski were a janitor or teacher or lawyer. One's profession and one's art may shield one from justice, but it's doesn't follow that it should. That you have come to this conclusion is both disheartening and extremely telling.

it seems clear he didn't know how young the girl was, and had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.
posted by localroger at 7:49 AM on September 27


Giving a person of any age drugs in order to create confusion and vulnerability, and then further using fear of violence to force consent, is rape. Because in that case it's not consent. If I put a gun to your head and make you say yes, please, take my wallet, it's still a mugging. Even if you plead with me, beg me, to take your wallet. Plying a 13 year-old with sedatives and alcohol and then sodomizing her is rape. "Aggressive seduction"? Remind me not to introduce you to my friends.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:11 AM on September 27, 2009 [77 favorites]


Polanski's stature would have been sufficient to intimidate without him taking any explicit action.

It didn't when she was 13. What makes you say it does now?
posted by mediareport at 8:12 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not like he killed dogs or anything,
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:13 AM on September 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Congratulations Switzerland, shame on France and the other countries who shielded him.

(And yes, it's that simple. This isn't a difficult moral problem: he admitted his guilt long ago.)


I assume you hang your head in shame at your own country's refusal, as well as that of the rest of the EU and Canada, to name a couple dozen countries, to extradite murderers to the U.S., where they might face the death penalty.

No? Then I guess you'll admit that it's not that simple.
posted by oaf at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


God, sticking to the facts of this case is going to be impossible, isn't it? I'll give up after this, I promise, but Frobenius Twist, you really need to read before posting. There's no evidence here at all of any intimidation of the victim; she's calling for charges to be dropped for her own reasons.

Yes, and I'm aware of that, but you're missing my point: When people upthread were arguing in favor of charges being dropped, the argument included the statement that the victim wanted the charges dropped, without reference to the other details of the case; so unless I'm misunderstanding, there are two possibilities here:

1) You believe that in any rape, if the victim wants the charges dropped then this should be a mitigating factor;

2) You don't, in general, believe that this should be a mitigating factor, but in this particular case you think it should be a mitigating factor for some mysterious additional reasons (i.e. you believe she was not intimidated and that the emotional scarring due to her rape is not playing a role, which I find very hard to believe). In particular, this means that you aren't actually making a general moral argument but are rather just stating, "Eh, I think Polanski should go free."

Upshot: I think that 2) is a completely absurd position to take, so I was giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming 1), which I also find absurd but only slightly less so.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


for some mysterious additional reasons

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT. Jesus.

Ok, I'm done now.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT. Jesus.

Right, so now I'm engaging in a back-and-forth which I probably shouldn't, but come on. That is some serious goalpost shifting. The comment of yours I was responding to was focused on whether or not the victim asking for charges to be dropped should be a mitigating factor, and that's the thread I was following. Here is the quote of yours I was responding to:

There's no evidence here at all of any intimidation of the victim; she's calling for charges to be dropped for her own reasons.

-- which has NOTHING to do with the purported judicial misconduct aspect of the case!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad they nabbed him. Better late than never.
posted by orange swan at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2009


I'd wholeheartedly recommend 'Wanted and Desired' to anyone interested in the case.
posted by robself at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2009


Just to clarify: the rape in question was not statutory rape (sex with someone underage, but which could be consensual) but simply rape - it was not consensual.

The only reason that statutory rape is being discussed is that that is the charge Polanski pled guilty to. Rather than go to the difficulty of proving his rape, the prosecutors went after him on an easier charge.

For many people, this does make a difference - I personally don't agree with statutory rape laws, because I've been a teenage girl and recognise that it's possible for us to make mistakes with older guys and that the older guys behaved creepily by being interested in us, but that's not rape. But this isn't relevant in this case, because it was rape.
posted by jb at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2009


I'm assuming the judicial misconduct being referenced is the judge reneging the plea deal he arranged. Is that really enough for mistrial/dismissal?

The man PLED GUILTY. He admitted he was guilty of raping a 13 year-old girl. He was too much of a coward to face the consequences of his actions and fled.

I hope he's charged with being a fugitive, I really do.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 8:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK folks it is called justice. The man admitted guilt and fled while awaiting sentencing. If he is not prosecuted for that alone there is no justice. As it is the victim has no right in choosing whether or not to punish the guilty. It is the law that does so.
posted by Gungho at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Roman Polanski also had an affair with Nastassja Kinski when she was 15 and he was 41. This isn't a 18 year old having an affair with a 17 year old. This guy has a problem.
posted by eye of newt at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


It doesn't even matter how old she was, if you drugged a 35 year old and raped them it would be horrible. The man did a reprehensible thing and should have paid long ago. I do, however, sympathize with the victim's desire to be done with the whole situation and move on with her life.
posted by dancingfruitbat at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


escabeche: I took a screenwriting class from Spike Lee in college.

Not to derail, but I would like to hear more about this, if you care to dish.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


How did this 13 yo get into a party at Roman Polanski's house?

And has anyone thought that maybe Polanski wasn't in the best of places at that time due to events in his recent past?
posted by Max Power at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2009


What Polanski did was sleazy, but not as sleazy as "OMG he raped a 13-year-old" would make it sound; it seems clear he didn't know how young the girl was, and had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.

You're forgetting that he gave her champagne and quaaludes as well. That would be enough to charge him with rape of an adult woman in several states.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


"it's possible for us to make mistakes with older guys and that the older guys behaved creepily by being interested in us, but that's not rape."

We're not talking about a college kid having sex with his younger girlfriend in high school. This is a 43-year-old man having sex with a 13-year-old girl. They weren't dating or anything. He just lured her to his house under the pretense of a "photo shoot" and plied her with drugs and alcohol.

If someone did that to my daughter I would fucking kill him.
posted by m2002 at 8:40 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


It would certainly be described as rape if it came up on ask metafilter.

Anonymous off-the-cuff advice from the interwebs is always the most reliable, factual source.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:40 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regardless of whether Polanski ends up guilty or not guilty in the eyes of the law, he's culpable in my eyes. I wouldn't want my daughter around him, and I've not paid to see anything he's done since I found out the facts of the case.

Justice is not the exclusive province of law. The American judicial system may have exhausted its options for justice here, and in my opinion, justice cannot be served until Polanski is the pariah any ordinary person would be in these circumstances.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And has anyone thought that maybe Polanski wasn't in the best of places at that time due to events in his recent past?

Is that all someone needs for an excuse to rape?
posted by C17H19NO3 at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Further, I have a hard time believing that even you would be so callous and uncaring if Polanski were a janitor or teacher or lawyer.

Actually, I would. Jailing him now is just about revenge, nothing more. If the victim does not want revenge why should the state?
posted by caddis at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2009


He ought to go to jail for The Ninth Gate alone.
posted by xmutex at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


"people were much less paranoid about such things than they are today" Don't underestimate the truth of that. In 1977, times were different, and attitudes were different - and in the LA of Roman Polanski and Jack Nicholson on Mulholland Drive - that's a universe away from here and now. Parents weren't as protective as they are now.

I'm not commenting from a legal perspective, just a social one. People would offer you quaaludes and you just took them - there wasn't a lot of deep thought that went into it. You'd have sex with people, and it wasn't necessarily good judgment on anyones' part - but it wasn't evil or criminal.

"Rape" has been defined much more clearly and strictly since then, and that's a good thing. But I can tell you that a lot of the behavior my friends and I engaged in consensually - things we wanted to do - would now be seen as criminal, and I don't think the world would be a better place if we'd spent time in prison.
posted by tizzie at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


If the victim does not want revenge why should the state?

Perhaps to prevent him from raping any more 13 year old girls?

Also, you seem to be confusing "justice" with "revenge". Justice is, in this case, due process, which he's interrupted and avoided for years - "revenge" implies that this whole trial is totes unfair and unreasonable.

Dude. He raped someone. He's been convicted. How about you get over it like you're so intent on telling everyone else to?
posted by ellehumour at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


Actually, I would. Jailing him now is just about revenge, nothing more. If the victim does not want revenge why should the state?

Pray tell...at precisely what point did this become just about revenge? Where shall we draw the line in the sand on that one? 10 years? 20? Fortunately we don't normally prosecute people based on their victim's whims - especially since rape is a crime of physical and psychological domination of the victim.

Are you willing to trust that a rape victim is telling the truth? Wants to avoid further involvement due to bringing up horrific memories? That he hasn't threatened her in order to shut her up?

Goddamn.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What Polanski did was sleazy, but not as sleazy as "OMG he raped a 13-year-old" would make it sound; it seems clear he didn't know how young the girl was, and had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.

It wasn't aggressive seduction anyway, it was far more cynical and predatory than that. To me the rest of the testimony is far more disturbing than the graphic sexual passage transcribed above, and reading it you are left in no doubt that he had one outcome in mind. This wasn't some sort of opportunistic indiscretion or age related mixup. His profession and the year the crime was comitted are irrelevant, he is a rapist who has been on the run for 32 years and "OMG he raped a 13-year-old" is really a perfect way of describing the situation. I hope his punishment takes into consideration the length of time he evaded justice.
posted by fire&wings at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


How did this 13 yo get into a party at Roman Polanski's house?


Read the transcript of her evidence at the trial, linked above.

And, not that I've ever been a 13-year-old rape victim, but reading that transcript gives me some idea of why she might keep saying that she wants to put the whole thing behind her. And it's more to do with not wanting to go through that sort of experience, than with forgiving Polanski.

I'm going to agree with the others who differentiate this from other examples of statutory rape. An 18 year old guy with a 17 year old girl who says she's 18? I can accept that as a mistake. When the male is 43, and the girl lives at home with her parents, I'd expect some better judgement, and I'd expect him to make every effort to verify her age. That's before we even get started on the fact that he drugged her...
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and mediareport - actually, I'm aware that he's already been convicted. You're missing the point; that the victim is calling for people just LEAVE ROMAN ALONE has less to do with Roman Polanski's innocence than you and others seem to want to make it out to have. You claim she hasn't been intimidated - but how the fuck do you know? Seriously, wouldn't having your rape trial dragged out for years and years in celebrity gossip news be pretty intimidating in and of itself? Who would want that? How is that not similar to when girls are pressured to drop charges altogether?
posted by ellehumour at 8:54 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently I misjudged you, caddis. If your position is that rapists who plead guilty to rape should be set free if they flee the country successfully, then I surely misjudged you. You have, believe me, my greatest sympathy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


If your position is that rapists who plead guilty to rape should be set free if they flee the country successfully

It could be a great game show.
posted by xmutex at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


they're better off arresting dick cheney for crimes against humanity.
posted by brandz at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2009


Zurich Film Festival Offers Award to Osama bin Laden

posted by horsemuth at 9:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


had she been of age it's not clear that it would have crossed the line from aggressive seduction to rape.
Really? Huh! I'll keep that in mind next time I have some quaaludes and a girl who keeps telling me to keep away and to stop.

I mean, if she's of legal age, of course. Or if I can at least imagine that it's theoretically possible that she might be of legal age.

Thanks for letting me know!
posted by Flunkie at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2009


ellehumor, do you really think he is a danger to rape more 13 year old girls?

The principles of penal policy are:
1) specific deterrence - prevent this evil doer from doing more evil by locking him up away from the public where he can't hurt them and put the fear of punishment into him to deter future evil acts
2) general deterrence - put the fear of punishment into the minds of other potential evil doers
3) rehabilitation - change his evil heart
4) retribution - revenge

Retribution is fairly controversial. Typically the red staters love this as it comports with their whole view of god's wrath and personal responsibility.

In this case what goals are served by punishing him? Basically retribution, with perhaps a touch of general deterrence, although realistically I don't think you are sending a very strong message that you can get away with rape if you let drop a 30 year old crime in which the victim wants the charges dropped. We are back to revenge.
posted by caddis at 9:07 AM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]



derail
"it's possible for us to make mistakes with older guys and that the older guys behaved creepily by being interested in us, but that's not rape."

Yeah, it's statutory rape. What you describe is the current rational for statutory rape laws. "Statutory rape laws are based on the concept that a young person may desire sex but may lack the experience possessed by legal adults to make a mature decision as to whether or not to have sexual contact with a particular person. Thus, the law assumes, even if he or she willingly engages in sexual intercourse with a legal adult, his or her sex partner may well have used tactics of manipulation or deceit against which the younger person has not yet developed sufficient discernment or defense."

/derail

posted by nooneyouknow at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roman Polanski? This would be the same Roman Polanski who formed groups to make sure that cancer-stricken Susan Atkins, a woman whose physical condition made it impossible for her to be a threat to anyone, died in prison? The "it was a long time ago" argument certainly didn't move him in her case, did it?

Fuck that guy.

Also, finding out that Polanski was the director of Repulsion, a film about a young woman's overwhelming fear of rape, caused me cognitive dissonance that could really only be matched if I'd learned that Leni Riefenstahl had directed Schindler's List.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2009 [25 favorites]


One way or the other, the final steps of the judicial process need to be addressed.
posted by medea42 at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2009


Seems like general deterrence is more the point. If we have one standard of justice for janitors and one for famous movie directors, then we undermine the concept of equal treatment under the law. That goes beyond penal policy, and more to the underlying relationship of the government to the governed.

Further, if we allow the victim's wishes to decide whether to punish the guilty (and he is clearly and unambiguously guilty), we get into massive problems- particularly in cases of rape and domestic violence. Do you really want abused women to decide whether their abusers should serve time?
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


reading that transcript gives me some idea of why she might keep saying that she wants to put the whole thing behind her.

but she hasn't been able to - why? - because roman's been over in france thumbing his nose at the justice system - he's the one that's dragged this out by becoming a fugitive - that in itself is a further victimization of the woman

when he's in prison she'll be able to put it behind her

---

Jailing him now is just about revenge, nothing more.

no, it's about justice, prevention and debt- there are other rapists who have been convicted or plead guilty and they did their time - it's an injustice to them to allow him to walk free

it also lets any other fugitives know that fleeing to another country is not going to stop their sentences from being served when they finally are caught, even decades down the road

it also requires him to pay his debt to society - he's been making money from society as a film maker while scoffing at a judgment against him - he's not just a rapist, he's a parasite

he needs to do some time
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2009 [13 favorites]


The principles of penal policy are:
1) specific deterrence - prevent this evil doer from doing more evil by locking him up away from the public where he can't hurt them and put the fear of punishment into him to deter future evil acts
2) general deterrence - put the fear of punishment into the minds of other potential evil doers
3) rehabilitation - change his evil heart
4) retribution - revenge

Retribution is fairly controversial. Typically the red staters love this as it comports with their whole view of god's wrath and personal responsibility.

In this case what goals are served by punishing him? Basically retribution, with perhaps a touch of general deterrence, although realistically I don't think you are sending a very strong message that you can get away with rape if you let drop a 30 year old crime in which the victim wants the charges dropped. We are back to revenge.


Well, #3 doesn't work, and I really don't understand what's wrong with personal responsibility.

If you do not punish this man, the message you are conveying is that all you need to do to avoid punishment is flee the country for an extended period of time. Again, he pled guilty to rape, and fled so he could avoid the consequences of his crime. This is not about revenge or retribution, it's holding him accountable for what he did.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


In this Salon article it mentions that the victim decided she wanted to put the whole thing behind her after she won her civil suit.
posted by eye of newt at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


You claim she hasn't been intimidated

No, I said there's no *evidence* she's been intimidated. Please read carefully before posting in emotional hot button threads.

but how the fuck do you know?

Exactly.
posted by mediareport at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pyramid Termite: but she hasn't been able to - why? - because roman's been over in france thumbing his nose at the justice system - he's the one that's dragged this out by becoming a fugitive - that in itself is a further victimization of the woman

when he's in prison she'll be able to put it behind her.


Sorry if it wasn't clear from my post: I'm in full agreement with you here. I'm disagreeing with those who say 'she wants to put it behind her, he shouldn't be charged'.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2009


Just imagine the money we could save if we sent all of our rapists to France.
posted by Allan Gordon at 9:20 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roman Polanski? This would be the same Roman Polanski who formed groups to make sure that cancer-stricken Susan Atkins...died in prison?

Well, she did stab and kill his pregnant wife Sharon Tate.
posted by eye of newt at 9:20 AM on September 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Justice is not the exclusive province of law. The American judicial system may have exhausted its options for justice here, and in my opinion, justice cannot be served until Polanski is the pariah any ordinary person would be in these circumstances.

Does this mean that Polanski's films become forever contaminated in the same way that Gary Glitter's records and toothbrush mustaches have, and that appreciating them on their own merit becomes forever unacceptable?
posted by acb at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2009


Well, she did stab and kill his pregnant wife Sharon Tate.

I read Parasite's comment as more of a "He wanted her to pay for her crime but he doesn't want to pay for his" type of thing.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:22 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


You can do whatever you want, as long as you are willing to face the consequences. When it came time for Polanski to man up and take responsibility he ran like a coward. If he'd faced the music decades ago, I could respect him, but he didn't, so no sympathy from me. He needs to come back to the U.S. and let the legal process run its course.
posted by dortmunder at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2009


-- which has NOTHING to do with the purported judicial misconduct aspect of the case!

Frobenius, Geimer herself has said the two things are related:

Geimer said she believes prosecutors are reciting sexually explicit details of the case to distract from their office's own wrongdoing 31 years ago. The alleged wrongdoing was brought to light in the documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which prompted the director's lawyer to file a motion for dismissal.
posted by mediareport at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The AP is on the story. Sort of.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2009 [17 favorites]


How did this 13 yo get into a party at Roman Polanski's house?

A brief perusal of the links would have answered this for you.


"Rape" has been defined much more clearly and strictly since then

This would be more credible if he was being charged now. He was charged and plead guilty in 1977.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:25 AM on September 27, 2009


Caddis, apparently what you know about sexual predators in general and Polanski in particular could be written on a napkin with a firehose. Polanski raped the victim in this case and it is undisputed that he also engaged in sexual conduct with another 15 year-old. He is absolutely a danger to minors. Why you feel that someone who pleads guilty to rape should not serve time if he flees or escapes is a mystery.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2009 [15 favorites]


In this case what goals are served by punishing him?

At the very least, the illusion of justice.
posted by Mick at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2009


I once knew a girl who started doing bar crawls when she was twelve (in the 1970's, at about the same time of Polanski's act). She had no trouble at all passing for 20, and people were much less paranoid about such things than they are today.

Well damn, since you once knew a 12 year old girl that could pass for 20 it makes me feel ok about the whole deal.

99.999 percent of 12/13 year old girls can not pass for 20. Your example is beyond worthless. And it's hilarious that you're using "One time I knew..." to draw any conclusion on this case.

If a 40 something man can talk to 13 year old girl for more than a minute and believe she's 20 he needs to be locked up for his own good. I'm surprised he can toast a piece of bread.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, she did stab and kill his pregnant wife Sharon Tate.

Yeah but she stabbed and killed his pregnant wife a long, long time ago. I mean keeping her in prison now is just about revenge and nothing else.
posted by xmutex at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


Some questions I have:

1. How old did Polanski think she was?

2. Were the ludes given to her without her knowledge? I've only seen reference to him giving them to her, not whether she knew. Did he slip them into her drink?

I haven't read the entire transcript, so I'm hoping someone that has knows the answer to the above questions.
posted by e40 at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2009


AP hilarity from Astro Zombie's link:

Swiss arrest Polanski on US request in sex case

(AP) – 1 hour ago

OK, can you do some more probing? New York will want to know

frank's out today.

i checked already, and so did zurich. they say the question is irrelevant. he answered me with the quote i used, about we knew when he was coming this time. he's been here many times in the past, we think.

thx brad. aptn is aware, but unfortunately won't make it in time, but is hoping to catch tail end.

i'm pushing out another writethru with some more background details before press conference.

no surprise, new york is really hot on this.

they particularly want to know why now. (has he never set foot in switzerland before?) sheila, theorizes that's because they're under intense pressure over ubs and want to throw the U.S. a bone, but can yo ucheck with justice department sources there?

is frank around too, or are you alone?

u can tell aptn press conf 1700 (15 gmt) in bern at the parliament

i'll watch it live on internet

posted by mediareport at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


2. Were the ludes given to her without her knowledge? I've only seen reference to him giving them to her, not whether she knew. Did he slip them into her drink?

It would not matter if she knowingly took them or not.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2009


You can do whatever you want, as long as you are willing to face the consequences. When it came time for Polanski to man up and take responsibility he ran like a coward

This argument works well for examples of civil disobedience. As a license to child rape it is extremely distasteful.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:33 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


How did this 13 yo get into a party at Roman Polanski's house?

It wasn't a party, it a very suspect French Vogue photo shoot that Samantha Geimer's mother had pushed in hopes to make her daughter's fortune. That's right, the girl's mother arranged a private photo shoot between her teenage daughter and a much older male acquaintance whom she barely knew, putting her the same company as people who classify drugging and rape as "aggressive seduction." Jesus fuck people, may you never have daughters.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


1. How old did Polanski think she was?

Nobody knows. Whatever his thoughts were on her age, he proceeded to rape her.

2. Were the ludes given to her without her knowledge? I've only seen reference to him giving them to her, not whether she knew. Did he slip them into her drink?


No, he gave her part of one tablet and she took it. Then he raped her.
posted by fire&wings at 9:39 AM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


@ActingTheGoat Yes, it would. The giving of drugs is cited as part of the crime by those that are discussing it here and other places. It also shows different intent.
posted by e40 at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And shame on Britain for allowing him to pick and choose which parts of the law applied to him, i.e., sue for libel whilst remaining a fugitive from English law (not to mention asserting, and profiting from, copyrights and moral rights as an author).

Yeah, because it's so much better to allow the state to decide who the law does and doesn't apply to, isn't it?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's great that the victim has moved on, but this case is California v. Polanski. That is all.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


they're better off arresting dick cheney for crimes against humanity.

Fortunately it's not an either/or situation.
posted by orange swan at 9:56 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Meh, Polanski should have done this years ago. I doubt he'll do any jail time.

Plus, for a guy who's been extra careful about avoiding countries with extradition treaties with the US, this is a pretty big slip-up. Could it be that he's tired of being shut out of North America and Western Europe and did this on purpose?
posted by reenum at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roman Polanski Victim Urges Case Dismissal

Thus making this no longer an issue.
posted by Zambrano at 9:58 AM on September 27, 2009


Thus making this no longer an issue.

How do you figure? As thirteenkiller succintly puts it 3 comments up:

It's great that the victim has moved on, but this case is California v. Polanski.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:06 AM on September 27, 2009


You claim she hasn't been intimidated - but how the fuck do you know?

Well, you don't. That's why speculative accusations aren't acceptable in the justice system. So why you've been harping on this "claim" for three or four comments in what appears to be a passionate defense of a healthy justice system eludes me.

Yes, I agree. We have no idea if Polanski actually threatened or intimidated her into recanting. So on a purely legal level, please shut the fuck up about it already, because all it is is your own personal bias against the defendant which has no business in a criminal trial.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2009


So on a purely legal level, please shut the fuck up about it already, because all it is is your own personal bias against the defendant which has no business in a criminal trial.

Except the trial is over...all that is left is sentencing.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2009


Does this mean that Polanski's films become forever contaminated... and that appreciating them on their own merit becomes forever unacceptable?

No, acb, it's a personal choice I'm making to not give any money to Polanski. The means by which a filmmaker may profit from his art are myriad and convoluted, and the most effective thing I can do to keep Polanski from profiting is to not watch his work at all. I may consider the art on its own merit once Polanski can no longer profit from my consideration.

It's not the course of action everyone would choose, to be sure, but in this case it's the course by which I can continue to live with myself.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2009


Personally I think Polanski should be jailed for the rest of his life for making Bitter Moon.
posted by fatbird at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, not that I've ever been a 13-year-old rape victim, but reading that transcript gives me some idea of why she might keep saying that she wants to put the whole thing behind her. And it's more to do with not wanting to go through that sort of experience, than with forgiving Polanski.

This. The fact that a woman who gained immense notoriety for being Roman Polanski's underaged rape victim wants to move past her experience is hardly surprising. Did you read that transcript? Can you imagine being a 13 year-old girl sitting in front of a bunch of skeptical cops and having to explain again how a famous director sodomized you? Did you notice how they asked if she'd had other sexual partners, as if that had any bearing on the current issue? Keep in mind this was way back in 1977, before social workers were a legal right for any underaged rape victim to make sure they weren't belittled and intimidated by people who will exploit the victim's age and background and naivety to prove she "got in over her head." And if you want to protest that the cops were just following protocol during the investigation, then watch Wanted and Desired, and take note when Samantha Geimer speaks about her experience with the authorities in charge of taking notes. The fact that she wasn't a virgin was brought up again and again as if to prove she'd subconsciously or explicitly asked to be raped. The distinction between a 13 year-old willingly swallowing quaaludes vs. being unwittingly administered them in a drink became the defining line between consent and rape.

Now let's consider the intense media scrutiny that dragged this young girl's dirty laundry out in public, plus the talking heads who yapped that Polanski's cinematic contributions exonerated him from raping an unknown, non-virgin 13 year-old who certainly couldn't direct filmic masterpieces. This girl was crucified from the get-go by a status-obsessed media dynasty that valued fame over justice and decency. Watch the news coverage during the scandal and tell me that's not how it happened. She stayed away from schools for years because her classmates only knew her as rape victim/Polanski's underaged mistress.

I don't blame Geimer for opting to play the good sport in front of the public eye that has gleefully cast her as either a stupid victim or a slut who was asking for it. The good thing, as previously pointed out, is that the case is The People of the State of California vs. Roman Polanski, because no matter how an individual reacts against an illegal crime perpetrated against her, we should still have an overarching justice that determines guilt and innocence. Geimer can forgive Polanski all she wants, but it doesn't put Polanski in a time machine back to 1977 so he can step back and say, "You know what? You're young and intimidated so I am going to act like a human being and not drug, rape, and sodomize you." It's still wrong and illegal to rape anyone, and he's earned a long overdue punishment that sadly, I don't think he'll ever get.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2009 [38 favorites]


Thus making this no longer an issue.
posted by Zambrano at 9:58 AM on September 27


I don't know how the Martian justice system works, but in the United States, many crimes are prosecuted without the victim needing to assist the prosecution. In addition, Polanski already pled guilty. He pled guilty. Also, Polanski pled guilty. Then he fled the country before sentencing. This is no different from breaking out of prison with a metal file hidden in a cake. He pled guilty, then he fled the country before his sentence could be determined and carried out. Polanski pled guilty to the charge. Then he fled the country. Now he has been arrested and he will return to the United States for sentencing, the sentence being for the crime he pled guilty to. I know that you have "interesting" ideas about women, but Polanski pled guilty to the charge laid out in People of the State of California v. Roman Raymond Polanski. It is not Geimer v. Polanski.

You might also be interested to know that Polanski pled guilty. This is equivalent to saying "I did the thing I was accused of doing by the state, even if a Martian thinks differently."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2009 [80 favorites]


This is such a no brainer that I can't quite believe it warrants this amount of discussion. He knew she was 13, he drugged her, he ignored her when she said she wanted to go home, and then he repeatedly raped her. What the victim thinks she wants now is irrelevant. Sexual predators and rapists belong in jail, even when they're "great artists." End of story.
posted by cowpattybingo at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So on a purely legal level, please shut the fuck up about it already, because all it is is your own personal bias against the defendant which has no business in a criminal trial.

How about you actually read my comments, instead of taking one line from them and twisting it out of context, before telling me to shut the fuck up, asshole. My comments are RIGHT UP THERE. You can read them pretty clearly. There's no excuse to miss the point so hugely when I've clarified the point like three goddamn times for people like you (who then accuse me of "harping" - you stay classy).
posted by ellehumour at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2009


Did you notice how they asked if she'd had other sexual partners, as if that had any bearing on the current issue? Keep in mind this was way back in 1977, before social workers were a legal right for any underaged rape victim to make sure they weren't belittled and intimidated by people who will exploit the victim's age and background and naivety to prove she "got in over her head." And if you want to protest that the cops were just following protocol during the investigation, then watch Wanted and Desired, and take note when Samantha Geimer speaks about her experience with the authorities in charge of taking notes. The fact that she wasn't a virgin was brought up again and again as if to prove she'd subconsciously or explicitly asked to be raped.

Um, no, you're wrong. They were establishing the fact that the victim knew what the body parts were, what penetration was, what it felt like, if he ejaculated or not, and stuff like that. This is to build the case. This is common with any sexual assault case in which a minor is the victim.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2009


I don't know how the Martian justice system works

with an earth shattering ka-boom, of course
posted by pyramid termite at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


"Statutory rape laws are based on the concept that a young person may desire sex but may lack the experience possessed by legal adults to make a mature decision as to whether or not to have sexual contact with a particular person. Thus, the law assumes, even if he or she willingly engages in sexual intercourse with a legal adult, his or her sex partner may well have used tactics of manipulation or deceit against which the younger person has not yet developed sufficient discernment or defense."

/derail

posted by nooneyouknow at 12:10 PM on September 27 [+] [!]


Yes, I know what they are based on, I just don't happen to agree with the idea that it should be a criminal offence. Leaving aside the Romeo and Juliet issue (17yo having sex with 15yo - which should just be ignored, except to give them a box of condoms and lots of scary lectures on STDs), I don't think that such creepy behaviour deserves the same kind of criminalisation as rape. It's totally creepy, and I agree that we should denounce older adults who seek out teenagers to have sex with as immoral, and warn our children against them. But to call it rape confuses what it is - it may be seduction, but it is not rape. I mean, you can be 16 and two days old, and magically be able to decide to have sex with a 30yo and that's all fine, but if you are 15 and 362 days old, it's rape? I've actually been there, and it doesn't feel like rape; it can feel like a mistake, though maybe less than a mistake than that creep you got involved with at age 18.

I'm not saying that there isn't an age when a person is too young to consent at all; we recognise this in Canada with child molestation laws which apply to children under 12 (though we did have the ridiculous case of a 12 year old being convicted for touching an 11 year old in mutual exploration). But I think in the case of older people seeking out post-pubescent and sexually mature (emotional maturity comes sometime after age 25) teenagers for sex is a social problem, and should be dealt with by social measures rather than criminal. To me, it's like sexism or racism or verbal abuse of your spouse - it's wrong and it should be denounced as such and dealt with by not associating with such people or letting your teenagers associate with them. But criminalising it doesn't work, and it just causes all sorts of problems, like 10,000s of sex offenders clogging up the registries so that the actual rapists - like the one who kidnapped Dugard - go unwatched.

sorry - I suppose this is a kind of derail. But it isn't completely, because the issue is part of the Polanski case. He pled guilty to statutory rape, when what he did was actually rape-rape. He drugged a girl and had intercourse with her against her will; her age is irrelevent to the case - she could easily have been 18 or 35.

The fact that she was so young may have made it easier for the prosecution; they didn't have to prove the rape but could convict him on the age side. But I worry that the fact that they used this law has undermined their case somewhat, as many people (including myself) were unaware of the fact that the case in question did not involve consensual sex, and so have reacted to the issue differently.
posted by jb at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is such a no brainer that I can't quite believe it warrants this amount of discussion.

I agree. Do any of the people arguing against his serving time KNOW any 13 year olds? Everytime someone arguing against his serving time and I find myself giving them the benefit of the doubt I think about the 13 year old girls I know.

They are kids.

Children.

Even when they dress up like adults there is no mistaking them for an adult.

They are easily intimidated and girls especially are people-pleasers. If anything, I'm impressed she was as assertive as she was.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's an interesting coincidence that Polanski should be detained a mere two days after the death of the woman who killed his wife and unborn child.

Who will direct that movie?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I truly do think that Mr. Polanski is a great director, but that's separate from the issue of him having raped a 13-year-old. I know that there was judicial misconduct in his trial and that his victim is at least outwardly amenable to him getting off scot-free from here on out, but that's only somewhat related to him having raped a 13-year-old.

I still maintain that Knife In The Water, Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, The Tenant, Chinatown, Macbeth, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, The Ninth Gate, Bitter Moon, and The Pianist are all good-to-great movies. I seriously am a fan of his work.

He also has my sympathies as a human being. Much like many of his characters, he is both a perpetrator and a victim.

But seriously: rape.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, on a purely legal level, there is no trial anymore. The trial is over. And for fuck's sake, it's not like my opinion has ANY IMPACT WHATSOEVER on this at all - I'm not the judge in the case, I'm not handing down the sentencing. I can do whatever the fuck I want with my "personal bias", just like you, and just like every single person on this thread - that's why we're having this conversation. You want to argue about "personal bias"? How about the people who are apparently so invested in Roman Polanski's films that they're willing to overlook the fact that he's a rapist? Like that's not a "bias" - it's just one you don't care about, because it doesn't challenge you.

Too bad.
posted by ellehumour at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the victim thinks she wants now is irrelevant.

Revealing turn of phrase there, cowpatty--implying as it does that the victim is confused about what she wants. It may or may not matter what she wants, but let's at least give her the benefit of the doubt when she says (repeatedly, and under no known pressure to do so) that she wants charges dropped.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


I can't believe people are really arguing that major crimes ought to become non-crimes if the victim says that's OK with them. It's not even really related to whether she was intimidated into urging that the case be dismissed. Suppose that she wasn't; suppose that she had just come to the conclusion, for whatever reason, that rapists shouldn't be imprisoned. Why should I care, in that eventuality, about her crazy pro-rape theory? It would be completely irrelevant. The point is to punish rape, not to tailor the punishment to the views of a specific victim.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, you don't. That's why speculative accusations aren't acceptable in the justice system. So why you've been harping on this "claim" for three or four comments in what appears to be a passionate defense of a healthy justice system eludes me.

Which is also why the law does not give victims any say over dropping rape charges.
posted by acb at 10:35 AM on September 27, 2009


You can simutaneously believe that our prison system is repressive, counter-productive, cruel and improperly oriented and believe that those with the resources to flee to France should be as subject ot it as those without.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


GWTTER, it's not really about what the victim wants. Because if the victim wanted Polanski to be executed by firing squad, caddis and localroger and Zambrano would ignore that and try to find a different angle to excuse, mitigate, or justify rape. They would probably point out that the victim was not a virgin, or that she didn't try to fight him hard enough, or that it's been a long time and everyone makes mistakes. Why they feel this way is an exercise best left to the reader.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


It wasn't a party, it a very suspect French Vogue photo shoot that Samantha Geimer's mother had pushed in hopes to make her daughter's fortune.

Twice. The rape occurred at the second "shoot".

Is it clear that the mother was pushing it? And, is it clear it was pushed by Mom in order to get a career for her daughter?

I remember hearing a CBC radio interview of a woman author. When she was a child a family member pushed her on a famous painter. The painter had a well known "affinity" for little girls, so the family member figured it might be possible to swing some free artwork. The woman author said that she wasn't the only little girl used in this way.
posted by Chuckles at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2009


You can simutaneously believe that our prison system is repressive, counter-productive, cruel and improperly oriented

Last I checked, prisons are supposed to be repressive...please elaborate on those other things.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2009


"Actually, I would. Jailing him now is just about revenge, nothing more. If the victim does not want revenge why should the state?" caddis

You don't hang a horse thief to punish the horse thief, because there is some divine reason horse thieves should be hanged, or even because the horse thief deserves it. Horse thieves require hanging so that horses don't get stolen.

This motherfucker should get the book thrown at him so that frightened 13 year old girls are not drugged raped and sodomized by adults they should be able to trust who then flee the country as soon as they realize there might be consequences. Even if they are famous and no matter how much money they have to through at their victim.

Thankfully in this country, like most, judicial misconduct by a judge gets you a better judge, not a free ride.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Roman Polanski Victim Urges Case Dismissal

Thus making this no longer an issue.


I disagree with that statement as much as it is possible to disagree with anything.

This case, handled wrongly, is in danger of setting a very public precedent that a 41 year old can ply a 13 year old with booze and drugs, rape her vaginally and anally, and then get away with no prison time for the deed if either (1) he escapes to France for a three decades and makes some very gifted artistic contributions or (2) the girl, decades after the act, says that she forgives him and the case should be dismissed.

Put me in the camp that says that those are both abhorrent positions to take. The dude is a fugitive child rapist. I don't care how he makes money; I don't care how brilliant he is; and while I hope that the victim really is over the trauma, this case is not just about her wishes. The civil case, but the criminal case is about what society has to say about this. The people of California have the ultimate say in whether Polanski gets to go free, because it's the integrity of their society that they are protecting.

Can you imagine the badness that would result if we decided that rapists don't go to jail if their victims say it's no big deal?

The reason the trial system developed is because objective people are needed to make these decisions. Hot-headed vigilante justice enacted by the victim's friends would be detrimental to society, but so, too, would intimidated or fragile or shy people saying "let's just move on." Judges and juries are there to move reactions to crime out of the subjective realm of the victim's feelings--whatever they are--and into the institutional codes of the state. The particulars of this case are no reason to think that should change.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


GWTTER, it's not really about what the victim wants. Because if the victim wanted Polanski to be executed by firing squad, caddis and localroger and Zambrano would ignore that and try to find a different angle to excuse, mitigate, or justify rape.

Yes, good point. I do think it is worth vocally and repeatedly pointing out, though, that victims of crime don't get to decide how society punishes crime. Because, among the three arguments used in favor of Polanski getting special exemption from the law against rape — the other two being "he's a great movie director" and "it was all so long ago" — the one about his victim wanting the case dismissed is the one that can seem, at first glance, like it might have some validity, even though it doesn't. And it feeds into wider confusions in public views on justice, like the idea that families of murder victims should have some say in how the murderer is punished. Or that it somehow matters that the woman in Roe v Wade is now an anti-choicer. Etc.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Um, no, you're wrong. They were establishing the fact that the victim knew what the body parts were, what penetration was, what it felt like, if he ejaculated or not, and stuff like that. This is to build the case. This is common with any sexual assault case in which a minor is the victim.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:24 PM on September 27 [+] [!]


Did you watch the documentary? Have you ever seen Samantha Geimer's personal statements as an adult recalling how the cops snickered when she said she'd had sex twice before? How her mother's friends told reporters that she'd always been a wild child? Have you seen public figures from 1977 to the present (including localroger in this thread who seems perilously close to confusing early sexual activity with "asking for it,") debate Geimer's previous sexual history as proof that she clearly knew what she was doing? This is why I said "And if you want to protest that the cops were just following protocol during the investigation, then watch Wanted and Desired, and take note when Samantha Geimer speaks about her experience with the authorities in charge of taking notes. The fact that she wasn't a virgin was brought up again and again as if to prove she'd subconsciously or explicitly asked to be raped." It's absolutely protocol to know any rape victim's previous sexual history, especially in the age of forensics, rape kits, and other medical protocol, but don't think that cops and investigators won't manipulate the legal and evidentiary necessity of knowing the victim's history as a way to prove that she's a slut.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I shudder to think of the consequences that would arise if clemency was given to every perpetrator who had been forgiven by their victim. Forgiveness doesn't mean a person hasn't done something, and doesn't mean they won't do it again.

I personally am way more fascinated/horrified by the fact that someone who survived the effing Holocaust and the brutal murder of his wife and unborn child would choose to commit a crime that violates another person's body and dignity the way rape does.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


I know that there was judicial misconduct in his trial
Can someone explain this to me? Because googling polanski judicial misconduct reveals things like this, which don't seem to back this claim up to me.

Summary, as I understand it:
(1) 1977: Roman Polanski rapes someone.

(2) He pleads guilty. The trial is over.

(3) He flees the country before sentencing.

(4) 2008: A soon-to-be-released movie is about to claim that in 1997, twenty years after the rape and guilty plea and end of the trial, the judge said that Polanski could only return to the US if his sentencing were televised.

(5) The chief press officer of the court tells the director that this claim is untrue, and demands that it be removed from the film.

(6) The director removes the claim from the film.

(7) The chief press officer sends off some emails to press outlets, saying that the claim is untrue, and that he got the director to remove it from the film.
How is that "judicial misconduct"?

And how is it "judicial misconduct in his trial"?

Is there some other claim of judicial misconduct?
posted by Flunkie at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flunkie--it's a moot point either way: LA judge rejects Polanski bid to dismiss sex case (5/7/09)
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2009


And it feeds into wider confusions in public views on justice, like the idea that families of murder victims should have some say in how the murderer is punished. Or that it somehow matters that the woman in Roe v Wade is now an anti-choicer. Etc.

Well stated; that's an important point.
posted by acb at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2009


If you watched the documentary the case is not as simple as argued above. Polanski did spend 42 days in jail. And not a country club jail either. He was scared for his life on a daily basis having been branded a molester. And at the end of the movie, in an interview with the prosecuting attorney, a very straight laced Mormon, was asked if Polanski did the right thing by fleeing the country, and he said YES. It has been a while since I saw it so I can't remember all the particulars, but there were some real issues of judicial misconduct. And iirc, Polanski was ready to do his time, but was not going to do twenty years for an offense that would usually have gotten 3-5 yrs.
posted by vronsky at 10:54 AM on September 27, 2009


Polanski seems to exhibit behavior akin to hebephilia and sometimes ephebophilia, not pedophilia (as some people are implying in their comments).
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2009


It's absolutely protocol to know any rape victim's previous sexual history, especially in the age of forensics, rape kits, and other medical protocol, but don't think that cops and investigators won't manipulate the legal and evidentiary necessity of knowing the victim's history as a way to prove that she's a slut.

What exactly did/do the police have to gain by proving a young girl is a slut? They don't care. The only people who would try to benefit from that is the defense. The police just try to establish the evience and facts and present them to the court. Establishing sexual history can be important to the case....Someone who has had sex before is going to know better if they had been penetrated and by what than someone who didn't have sex.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2009


The statute of limitations usually refers to the time within which a charge must be brought, not the time within which a defendant must be arrested or tried. There is the notion of "speedy trial," but that can be waived and usually it is deemed waived when the accused flees and thus avoids trial. Without doing any research, I am pretty sure that this is the law in all or most U.S. states.
posted by swlabr at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The statute of limitations usually refers to the time within which a charge must be brought, not the time within which a defendant must be arrested or tried. There is the notion of "speedy trial," but that can be waived and usually it is deemed waived when the accused flees and thus avoids trial.
Additionally, he didn't flee and avoid trial. The trial ended over thirty years ago, with him being found guilty. He fled and avoided sentencing.
posted by Flunkie at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2009


I'd add that in other industries like fashion the practice of raping young hopefuls has been found to be pervasive and Hell yes it should be prosecuted, no matter how long ago it happened or whether the victim has moved on. She's not the only one this is happening to and the law against it needs to be enforced.
posted by Marnie at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is everyone OK? Do we need to all calm down? Here, have some Quaaludes and meet me out on the deck. I'll be in the hot tub.
posted by jscott at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am SO fucking sick of seeing this labeled as a "sex case"

IT'S CALLED RAPE, DIPSHITS
posted by kathrineg at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]



Well, she did stab and kill his pregnant wife Sharon Tate.


Yeah but she stabbed and killed his pregnant wife a long, long time ago. I mean keeping her in prison now is just about revenge and nothing else.


Agreed.
posted by caddis at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2009


1. Does society have an interesting in protecting 13 year girls from rape by passing laws? Y/N

2. Does society have an interest in making its laws mean something by faithfully acting on a conviction? Y/N

3. Should fleeing the country free a convicted person from that conviction? Y/N

4. Was Roman Polanski convicted of a raping a 13-year old girl? Y/N

Really, that this topic is in question is bizarre.
posted by xmutex at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


...and by prosecuted I meant punished, as it's already been prosecuted, obviously.
posted by Marnie at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2009


I don't think the fact that the victim wants the case dropped is really that relevant. Even if it had been consensual sex and the girl to this day thought it was a good thing, he could still be prosecuted.

There was a case where a couple showed up on a Jerry Springer show. The had a child when the mother was 14 or so, and now 10 or 15 years later they were breaking up, and had decided to go on the show for whatever reason. Anyway when they got back the cops decided to prosecute him for having sex with the mother when she was still a teenager (the guy was in his 20s at the time)

It's absolutely protocol to know any rape victim's previous sexual history, especially in the age of forensics, rape kits, and other medical protocol

I don't know about back then, but these days many states have laws that make previous sexual history (except for the a small window around the actual event) illegal to bring up in trial.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 AM on September 27, 2009


Hot-headed vigilante justice enacted by the victim's friends would be detrimental to society, but so, too, would intimidated or fragile or shy people saying "let's just move on."

While, Pater Alethius, I agree with your point 100%, the framing of girls and women who say "let's move on" as ALWAYS being intimidated or fragile or shy (as other people seem to have also implied in their comments above) seems to grow out of the same kind of girls-and-women-are-perfect-innocent-flowers-that-must-always-be-protected-thinking that in endemic among those who would insist on virginity as a holy prize and women as the weaker sex.

I think what Polanski did is absolutely rape, and my comment is really just a point about women and not about this particular case. It seems we are afraid to admit that rape is not always life shattering, though it frequently and in the majority of cases, is. Rape victims who do not let their rape define their life are somewhat alienated by the constant insistence on their victimhood. Sometimes a person wants to move on, not because they are intimidated or fragile or shy, but because they have moved on themselves, and what happened to them was not as traumatizing as everyone wants it to be.

I'm sure this will ignite some fires. Please understand I am not saying that rape isn't traumatizing. I am just saying, that for some, it is not as traumatizing as others in their defense would wish it to be. I don't know if this woman is one of those people, but there are women who have said "let's move on," and that sentiment was motivated not by their fragility or shyness or feelings of intimidation, but by their annoyance, and resilience, and strength.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2009 [22 favorites]


...And at the end of the movie, in an interview with the prosecuting attorney, a very straight laced Mormon, was asked if Polanski did the right thing by fleeing the country, and he said YES. It has been a while since I saw it so I can't remember all the particulars, but there were some real issues of judicial misconduct....

Vronsky,
I'm glad you posted that. This is my memory too, - feeding my impression that his flight was not from justice so much as a looming travesty of sentencing due, significantly, to his status.

(Fwiw.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:14 AM on September 27, 2009


Also, when you look at what happened (according to the victim's statement) If she had been 22 and the events happened as they did, most people would still call it rape. Maybe a 22 year old wouldn't have been taken as seriously.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on September 27, 2009


delmoi, I think you're right on the sexual history thing. When I mention that it is relevant, I'm talking about establishing whether or not someone has had sex before...as in this case.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2009


What exactly did/do the police have to gain by proving a young girl is a slut? They don't care.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 10:57 AM on September 27


You're an LEO who has frequently posted long defenses of police misconduct in the past; I don't think you're an unbiased commenter in this case. If your only knowledge of the questioning comes from the transcript, doubly so.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2009


If the victim saying "let him go" gets a rapist out of a rape charge...

...imagine the incentive that is created to pressure, harass, and threaten victims.
posted by kathrineg at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


And as an appendix: My comment in no way means that I think rapists shouldn't be prosecuted if the victim is doing okay. The rapist absolutely should be prosecuted. What he did was wrong. My comment above is only an observation on the dangers of reductionist thinking about women, and rape victims, in general.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:19 AM on September 27, 2009


...imagine the incentive that is created to pressure, harass, and threaten victims.

Or Bribe.
posted by delmoi at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


What exactly did/do the police have to gain by proving a young girl is a slut?

That this girl, a sexually active 13 year-old, knew exactly what she was doing, was not an innocent child, and her claims of rape and exploitation are thereby null. Case closed, let the famous man go already!

They don't care.

The authorities in charge of getting to the bottom of huge media maelstrom that everyone in America is watching? Sure they do. Cops, no more than anyone else, are not objective bearers of decency and have many, many times proved themselves less than capable of affording rape victims the sensitivity they deserve. Hence snickering at a girl who admits to having had sex previous to getting raped.

The only people who would try to benefit from that is the defense. The police just try to establish the evience and facts and present them to the court. Establishing sexual history can be important to the case....Someone who has had sex before is going to know better if they had been penetrated and by what than someone who didn't have sex.

Again, wherefore this high opinion of cops? Moreover, read the media coverage that painted Samantha Gailey as a Lolita and a 13 year-old temptress.

"We were besieged," Geimer says. "Reporters came to my house and my junior high school; they accused me of making it up. They criticized my mother's parenting, saying the most awful things: We were after money, we wanted a career move or something, but nothing nice."


My point went far beyond cops snickering and mostly concerns how journalists dragged the girl's name through the mud. Imagine being a young girl whose sexual history, up to and including a traumatic, humiliating event with Roman Polanski, has been aired for all the world to see and then used to discount her own story. I'm saying that it's hardly surprising she'd put on a good face as an adult and say "Forgive and forget" to avoid further slanderous insults from people who think having consensual sex at a young age automatically means she made up an entire story about being raped by a famous Hollywood director.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


He fled and avoided sentencing.

Flunkie, you really ought to read the links in the early part of the thread. Polanski fled to avoid what looked like a judge's publicity-wary reneging on the plea deal Polanski had already agreed to (which wasn't a rape charge, but I think most of us here understand he horribly raped the girl).
posted by mediareport at 11:21 AM on September 27, 2009


You're an LEO who has frequently posted long defenses of police misconduct in the past

This took me a minute. I couldn't figure out what his astrological sign had to do with this.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:25 AM on September 27, 2009


And so in successfully fleeing the rule of law in this country he should be pardoned? Give. Me. A. Break. You really ought to get a grip.
posted by phaedon at 11:25 AM on September 27, 2009


C17H19NO3, I'm sorry if my latest comment was a little aggressive (imagine that); I should have assumed you were discussing the issue in good faith, and I believe you are doing so.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


the practice of raping young [fashion model] hopefuls has been found to be pervasive

Agreed, and the "casting couch" of the entertainment industry still has this problem.
BTW, Larry King interviewed Geimer back in 2003 if anyone's interested.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here Flunkie, I'll make life a little easier and point - once again - to the reviews page on the the documentary's official site. Here's Roger Ebert's take:

...the story she builds, brick by brick with eyewitness testimony, is about crimes against the justice system carried out by the judge of Polanski's case, Laurence J. Rittenband. So corrupt was this man that the documentary finds agreement among the three people (aside from Polanski) most interested in the outcome: the defense attorney, Douglas Dalton; the assistant D.A. who prosecuted the case, Roger Gunson, and Samantha Gailey Geimer, who was the child involved.

Their testimony nails Rittenband as a shameless publicity seeker who was more concerned with his own image than arriving at justice. Who broke his word to attorneys on both sides. Who staged a fake courtroom session in which Gunson and Geimer were to go through the motions of making their arguments before the judge read an opinion he had already prepared. Who tried to stage such a "sham" (Gunson's term) a second time. Who juggled possible sentences in discussions with outsiders, once calling a Santa Monica reporter, David L. Jonta, into his chambers to ask him, "What the hell should I do with Polanski?" Who discussed the case with the guy at the next urinal at his country club. Who held a press conference while the case was still alive. Who was removed from the case on a motion by both prosecution and defense.

The most significant fact of the film is that the prosecutor Gunson, a straight-laced Mormon, agrees with the defender Dalton that justice was not served. Both break their silences for this film after many years, Gunson saying, "I'm not surprised that he left the country under those circumstances." Samantha Geimer, whose family asked at the time that Polanski not be prosecuted or jailed, came public in 1997 to forgive him, and now says she feels Rittenband was running the case for his own aggrandizement, "orchestrating some little show that I didn't want to be in." And in 2003, I learn from the New York Times, she published a statement, concluding: "Who wouldn't think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment or even the well-being of the victim?"


Does that help clarify why some of us here are fighting to keep this focused on facts instead of easy emotion?
posted by mediareport at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


You're an LEO who has frequently posted long defenses of police misconduct in the past; I don't think you're an unbiased commenter in this case. If your only knowledge of the questioning comes from the transcript, doubly so.

The only 'long defenses' I can remember of were the UofF tazing, and Sgt. Crowley. Neither were misconduct, but that's neither here nor there.

I admit, I did not watch the documentary yet, and am going off of the transcript. That being said, I will not continue to comment on the police's actions as far as this case is concerned.

have many, many times proved themselves less than capable of affording rape victims the sensitivity they deserve.

Like it or not, we are not here to be sensitive, we are here to do our jobs. This is why there are victims advocates and other social workers.

And what does any of this have to do with Polanski already having been convicted of rape?
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2009


Who was removed from the case on a motion by both prosecution and defense.

If he was removed from the case, how would his misconduct be relevant to Polanski's decision to flee?

The proper way to deal with this would be on appeal, not in France.
posted by kathrineg at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Flunkie, you really ought to
mediareport, you really ought to notice that I did not make any claim as to why he fled. I was responding to someone who said "flee and avoid trial". I was simply pointing out that he did not "avoid trial"; he has already been found guilty. What he has thus far avoided is sentencing.
posted by Flunkie at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2009


Like it or not, we are not here to be sensitive, we are here to do our jobs. This is why there are victims advocates and other social workers.

There are victim's advocates because of this shitty attitude.
posted by kathrineg at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2009


And really, if snickering at victims is part of your job I would be shocked beyond belief.
posted by kathrineg at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2009


And really, if snickering at victims is part of your job I would be shocked beyond belief.

No, it isn't, and that is not what I'm referring to. I really do not want this to derail to how people think police officers should act.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:36 AM on September 27, 2009


They shouldn't snicker at victims. I think that is quite clear.
posted by kathrineg at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2009


his flight was not from justice so much as a looming travesty of sentencing

I bet he had some real misgivings about leaving justice behind as he pondered fleeing that looming travesty of sentencing.
posted by fire&wings at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2009


Flunkie, you asked, "Is there some other claim of judicial misconduct?"

The answer, of course, is yes.

Again, you really ought to read the links at the early part of the thread.
posted by mediareport at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2009


As Americans, we are the "Red Staters" of the Western industrialized world. As evidence of the yawning chasm between the USA and the socially progressive democracies, I present the following story from today's edition of France's leading newspaper:

The leadership of both the French and the Polish governments are now officially coming on line and asking the US government to free Polanski (story in french; English via the babelfish)
posted by Wufpak at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


They shouldn't snicker at victims. I think that is quite clear.

Agreed, and if they did, shame on them. It still has no bearing on the case.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2009


How about you actually read my comments, instead of taking one line from them and twisting it out of context, before telling me to shut the fuck up, asshole. My comments are RIGHT UP THERE. You can read them pretty clearly. There's no excuse to miss the point so hugely when I've clarified the point like three goddamn times for people like you (who then accuse me of "harping" - you stay classy).

This is your comment:

You claim she hasn't been intimidated - but how the fuck do you know? Seriously, wouldn't having your rape trial dragged out for years and years in celebrity gossip news be pretty intimidating in and of itself? Who would want that? How is that not similar to when girls are pressured to drop charges altogether?

This is after your previous statement:

This happens all the time in non-celebrity rape cases - girls are pressured into backing down from pressing charges so as not to potentially ruin the life of such a nice boy. This is exactly what's going on here.

"This is exactly what is going on here?" "How the fuck do we know?" I don't know, why don't you tell us? You won't, because you clearly don't know either, even though "YOUR COMMENTS ARE RIGHT UP THERE." That's four speculative, baseless, and devoid-of evidence arguments. In two comments. You stated them specifically to counter another person's argument, which while disagreeable and certainly debatable as to relevance- that the victim is no longer advocating going after Polanski- is an actual fact. YOU certainly seem to think it's a relevant point since you're throwing a tantrum over it. If you are going to debate that point, then back up your accusations when your accusations are questioned. Hurling insults and then claiming a completely different part of this story "doesn't challenge me" is... yep, I just checked... not facts. Grow up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


mediareport, thank you for giving me a response to a question that I had asked previously. You really should have quoted that question when responding to it, instead of quoting something else I had written which was completely unrelated to what you were responding to.

Your turn, I guess.
posted by Flunkie at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2009


Polanski already having been convicted of rape?

He was not convicted of rape. Read the links.
posted by mediareport at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2009


He was not convicted of rape. Read the links.

You are officially in la-la land.
posted by phaedon at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2009


I didn't say he didn't rape her, phaedon, stop it. In fact, just above I say it's clear he did. But he was not convicted of rape. That's a fact. He plead to a lesser charge and then the judge - who'd already engaged in bizarre, illegal behavior - reneged on the plea deal.

Those are the facts. La-la-land is somewhere else.
posted by mediareport at 11:49 AM on September 27, 2009


(...the facts as alleged in the documentary, I should add. I haven't seen it yet, but trust the reviews of folks like Ebert for now.)
posted by mediareport at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2009


By your mid-twenties most guys have two things figured out: 1) Check for a ring on that really friendly lady you're chatting up, 2) She could be a lot younger than you think. Usually one learns these lessons in some mixture of embarrassment and/or sudden terror. You'd have to be very sheltered or quite unable to catch social cues to that effect if you're in your forties. I can't really buy "I didn't know she was thirteen." in this case. In some circumstances, yes, I could believe it. This particular situation, no, I cannot.

Having said that, the detainment, now, looks a lot more like dick-swinging "Nobody Can Escape the Vast Influence of United States" (just look at some of the recent banking issues between the US and Europe) than "finally, justice will be done!"
posted by adipocere at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


> You want to argue about "personal bias"? How about the people who are apparently so invested in Roman Polanski's films that they're willing to overlook the fact that he's a rapist?

I love Polanski's films but this is a dark thing that he did, and he needs to take his medicine.
posted by nola at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2009


"He just lured her to his house under the pretense of a "photo shoot" and plied her with drugs and alcohol. " Uh, no, her parents were sending her out as a "model" because their older daughter's drug problems made it impossible for her to work any more and the needed the money. And it wasn't his house.

Polanski clearly has a history of being at the very least inappropriate with underage girls, and no amount of saying it's normal in Europe (which is his standard remark) is going to help.

But of course, there are plenty of people who think he's responsible for the breaks in the Manson case, so that should count for something.

I've always wondered who the "woman" was Jack Nicholson's house that day. Her story about the private conversations between her and the victim would be interesting. (I haven't talked to anyone about this or ready anything in years, so if her story is now out, forgive me.")

And I will expect law enforcement to provide social services to victims about the same time I expect ER to find and arrest rapists.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2009


He plead to a lesser charge and then the judge

By which you are referring to statutory rape. Am I right? You're telling me he didn't rape her because he pled guilty to statutory rape?
posted by phaedon at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2009


Hey, you know Roman Polanski? He raped a 13-year-old girl. No, I'm serious - I'm not OK with his having raped a 13-year-old girl . I mean, Chinatown is a masterpiece, but there again it was directed by a man who raped a 13-year-old girl. My dander is all up as I puff my chest out like a great cock and caw to the world that THE SLIME-PIT DWELLER ROMAN POLANSKI, PORNO-DIRECTOR-SHOCKFREAK IN INTERNATIONAL RAPE-RUN HORROR, RAPED A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL! Oh, and: rape, rape,rapey-rape-rape rape.

Ahem.

My point being: look, MeFites -- everybody knew what he did, many of us don't care if you're "not OK with this," and merely replacing argumentation with the repeated, shocking, and utterly misleading mantra, "OMGZ HE RAPED A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL FAIL!" is not an adequate replacement for real, nuanced argumentation.

I read that phrase so many times in this thread that I'm completely immured to it. "Raped a 13-year-old girl" might as well be "Drank a 2-year-old Scotch" or "Washed a 1-year-old dachshund" now. It's lost all rhetorical punch (if it had any to begin with).

So, all my young Cotton Mathers, please, if you couldy-could, lay off. Your shock-phrase is meant to bully anyone with a differing viewpoint into agreement with you, and that ain't an argument.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


I came here expecting to find a bunch of MeFites wishing the authorities would leave Polanski alone because he's an artist. Refreshing to see hardly any of that.
posted by jayder at 12:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


For all that he absconded off to France due to the behavior of a judge, he still needs to serve his time for pleading guilty to rape. Say what you will about the judge and sentencing, the judge's actions does not absolve Polanski of what he did.
posted by Atreides at 12:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Could everyone agree that, at the very least, Polanski should now go to prison for whatever length of time was warranted by his original guilty plea?

Assuming vronsky is correct at a figure of 3-5 years: With California's famous accelerated-rehabilitation programs for celebrities, he'd probably be out in less than 12 months. In time to attend the 2011 Academy Award ceremonies and receive his standing ovation.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:03 PM on September 27, 2009


He pled guilty to a lesser charge of statutory rape.

Why are you even participating to this thread, mediareport? Because I'm still struck by your comment that because the victim has let go of this ordeal (whatever that means, and good for her if she has) that it follows that the American government should let go of the fact that he has eluded his conviction, which is a claim I think you're still defending.

I can think of a number of ways to improving the system but eluding arrest is not one of them. I think you need to grow up and stop wasting people's time bouncing around this thread with your fucking naivete.
posted by phaedon at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2009


utterly misleading mantra, "OMGZ HE RAPED A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL FAIL!"
In what way is it misleading?
posted by Flunkie at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered who the "woman" was Jack Nicholson's house that day. Her story about the private conversations between her and the victim would be interesting. (I haven't talked to anyone about this or ready anything in years, so if her story is now out, forgive me.")

Anjelica Huston.
posted by fire&wings at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2009


So, all my young Cotton Mathers, please, if you couldy-could, lay off. Your shock-phrase is meant to bully anyone with a differing viewpoint into agreement with you, and that ain't an argument.

So what is your argument? You've told us what isn't an argument, without offering an argument yourself. WTF?
posted by jayder at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2009


utterly misleading mantra, "OMGZ HE RAPED A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL FAIL!"

You could begin by explaining how that is misleading.
posted by jayder at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2009


So, all my young Cotton Mathers, please, if you couldy-could, lay off. Your shock-phrase is meant to bully anyone with a differing viewpoint into agreement with you, and that ain't an argument.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:00 PM on September 27


He pled guilty to rape. The victim was a 13 year-old girl. What are you talking about? What is your differing viewpoint?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because if the victim wanted Polanski to be executed by firing squad, caddis and localroger and Zambrano would ignore that and try to find a different angle to excuse, mitigate, or justify rape.

Optimus Chyme, I understand that this is a heated topic that you are upset about it, but this comment really crosses the line. You don't need to demonize other posters here.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Noah Cross: See, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of... anything!
posted by nola at 12:15 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what if the victim wants people to leave him alone now? What if all 13 year old rape victims wanted their rapists to be left alone? This isn't revenge; he committed a crime, admitted he was guilty and evaded punishment. He has to be punished.
posted by anniecat at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


In what way is it misleading?

What is your differing viewpoint?

My issue is strictly rhetorical, as I think I said in that original post. The facts may be true, but the tenor of much of the argumentation here has been of a fairly salacious nature.

It's called poisoning the well.

It's very difficult to build a counterargument against a simple, aggressive thesis like "He raped a 13-year old girl." The phrase is deployed, I think, with this knowledge: the posters are dropping the big conversation-killer, and they know it.

Say I do disagree - for the sake of argument, say I think Polanski's actions were not so reprehensible as everyone says. There's an argument there, a viewpoint that should be explored and (if you feel the need) decried. Now, if every counterargument will be met with a morally outraged wordbomb, will this imaginary poster -- who may have something valuable to add to this discussion -- feel comfortable posting? Or will he think, "If I drink from that opposing well, I'm gonna have spots all over me that mark me as Metfilter's Own Ephebophile, and I'ma be shunned, because he raped a 13-year-old girl."

We all know the relevant facts of the case. To repeat it in this way, over and over, is not argumentation: it's rhetorical intimidation. In a Rogerian scheme, we find empathy for our opponent's viewpoints -- and we don't poison the well.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Say I do disagree - for the sake of argument, say I think Polanski's actions were not so reprehensible as everyone says. There's an argument there, a viewpoint that should be explored and (if you feel the need) decried.

No, you're wrong. Because letting Polanski walk for his crime precludes the civil presentation of the viewpoint you wish to explore. Because I would rather rape you and move to France.

The facts of the case beyond that are irrelevant. You are the one poisoning the well with your hypotheticals.
posted by phaedon at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2009


hey man sorry that the rape of a 13 year-old girl is hard to discuss from the pro-rape side without getting some flak but there you have it :(
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2009 [20 favorites]


It's very difficult to build a counterargument against a simple, aggressive thesis like "He raped a 13-year old girl."

In your opinion, what would be a more fair way to express what happened between the two?
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2009


Your shock-phrase is meant to bully anyone with a differing viewpoint into agreement with you, and that ain't an argument.

Argument from authority
Ad hominem
No true Scotsman
Slippery slope
Strawman
He raped a 13 year old girl, admitted to it, and should possibly, maybe face some sort of punishment

One of these seems different from the others.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm still waiting for an answer to how it's "utterly misleading".
posted by Flunkie at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2009


Sticherbeast: "In your opinion, what would be a more fair way to express what happened between the two?"

You weren't asking me, but I would like to chime in here. He was convicted of the crime of sex with a minor, AKA statutory rape.

The descriptions of the event sound like plain old rape to me, now that I have heard them. More on the date rape side of things than the beating into submission side, if that matters at all. But he was not convicted of this crime.

Much of the commentary here seems to be conflating the sex with a minor aspect with the sex after she said "no" aspect. Both are morally and legally wrong, but something is lost if we don't pay some attention to this.

Please do correct me if I am misunderstanding something here.
posted by idiopath at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


While, Pater Alethius, I agree with your point 100%, the framing of girls and women who say "let's move on" as ALWAYS being intimidated or fragile or shy (as other people seem to have also implied in their comments above) seems to grow out of the same kind of girls-and-women-are-perfect-innocent-flowers-that-must-always-be-protected-thinking that in endemic among those who would insist on virginity as a holy prize and women as the weaker sex.

Yeah. I didn't mean to assume anything about this specific woman. I was speaking generally.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2009


I guess I'm still waiting for an answer to how it's "utterly misleading".

See idiopath's response.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2009


And that goes for men and women, and for any motivation for wanting to move on, I should say. When it's in the courts, it's not just the victim who has a say.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:37 PM on September 27, 2009


The most significant fact of the film is that the prosecutor Gunson, a straight-laced Mormon, agrees with the defender Dalton that justice was not served. Both break their silences for this film after many years, Gunson saying, "I'm not surprised that he left the country under those circumstances."

Thanks for that, Mediareport. To which I'd add that this is probably the most relevant comment in this entire thread. Please, if you really care to comment on this situation toward achieving some level of successful conversation, don't try to trivialize the complexity of it all.

MetaFilter never entirely agrees on anything but it's pretty damned close on rape being bad, very bad (regardless of the victim's age). And as far as I can see, I don't see anyone trying to posit anything different to that here.

What I do see are a few posters urging a rational analysis of the situation (not just the law but the human beings as well) and as such the movie WANTED + DESIRED is an excellent place to start. I've read at least one accusation in this thread that it's biased toward Polanski but I would dispute that. I saw it about a month ago and walked away feeling:

i) educated
ii) confused.

Educated because it told a long, complex story very, very well. Confused because it didn't leave me an easy out (ie: Polanski's an innocent man wrongly pursued by the law, or Polanski's a slimy, evil raper of children). Fact is, the man was not just the widower of a brutally murdered pregnant wife, he was also a child survivor of the Holocaust who "... escaped the Kraków Ghetto in 1943, and survived the war with the help of Polish Roman Catholic families[10] in poor and uncertain conditions, sleeping in a barn next to cows." And immediately after the murder of his wife (before the world had ever even heard Charles Manson's name), the media effectively found him guilty of the crime and went so far as to accuse him of Satanism (based no doubt on his having directed Rosemary's Baby).

And so on.

It goes without saying that none of this justifies rape of a child, but it does color things, makes it all less black and white, which is the kind of world I choose to live in.
posted by philip-random at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


Please do correct me if I am misunderstanding something here.

I don't disagree with anything that you're saying, but we're still left with 1) Polanski having plead guilty to a lesser charge of statutory rape of a 13-year-old and 2) testimony from said 13-year-old which makes it sound like "plain old rape" and forcible sodomy besides, although these charges were dismissed in his initial plea bargain.

The phrase "Polanski still raped a 13-year-old girl" remains accurate, unless we are to start assuming that Geimer was either lying or mistaken about this incident.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2009


I can't help but think that this is all a promotional stunt for the next A-Team movie and in a few days we'll see grainy footage on youtube of Murdock, under the delusion that he's Otto Skorzeny, crashing a rebar reinforced bus into a Swiss prison while Mr. T says something about "pitying tha fool who extradites a brilliant auteur jus' because he likes them tender giblets." A week later we'll learn that it was all a stunt and that Roman Polanski is the actual creative force behind the new A-Team reimagining.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The phrase "Polanski still raped a 13-year-old girl" remains accurate

It may remain accurate, but when it's repeated over and over as if it settled the matter of whether or not Polanski should now be extradited to the US to serve prison, it tends to imply that anyone who is less than 100% sure about the question at hand (whether Polanski should now serve time) is effectively a rape-apologist. In a similar way, Optimus Chyme upthread uses the phrase "Polanski pled guilty" (or some variation thereof) a total of eight times in one short paragraph. It's a bit much.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Much of the commentary here seems to be conflating the sex with a minor aspect with the sex after she said "no" aspect.

It may no longer be the wild 70s, but I don't think that a 13 year old CAN legally say yes to a 44 year old.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I said: "I remember hearing a CBC radio interview..."

Thanks to a MeMail, I'm corrected, it was actually a comment made by a MeFi user. Here is nickyskye's extraordinary account of her childhood experiences with and in relation to Joseph Cornell
posted by Chuckles at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2009


Anjelica Huston.

I was wondering about that myself. Has that been proven? Did she testify?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2009


It's called poisoning the well.

Yeah, it's true. Unfortunately, it happens a lot here, but there's not a lot you can do on threads with subject matter like circumcision, Israel, torture, Wal-Mart, hipsters or rape. I don't think people are trying to deliberately sabotage worthwhile discussion so much as vent their emotions about it, but it has the same effect. And a lot of the media have reported on the case with the same sense of outrage, but it's only gotten worse as time has gone on, as with Michael Jackson.

And I do not for one moment think we should let convicted rapists flee sentencing, but I do think the criminal justice system has bent to the idea that all sexual offenders are incapable of rehabilitation, particularly since the time of Polanski's original trial. And when "sexual offender" includes statutory rape, even between two teenagers, or public urination, and when we keep a public register of sexual offenders post-sentencing who cannot live anywhere near schools and are forever marginalized, even when most victims of sexual offenses know their attacker, then we are at the point of putting scarlet letters on people. But Metafilter is just a reflection of what's happening in the US right now. I am not trying to defend Polanski, but it's difficult even talking about it without having to say that repeatedly.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am SO fucking sick of seeing this labeled as a "sex case"

IT'S CALLED RAPE, DIPSHITS
posted by kathrineg at 2:03 PM on September 27 [1 favorite +] [!]


I had the same reaction to the headline, which was a Reuters one (I think).

But, as has been pointed out, he wasn't actually convicted of the rape, but of the lesser charge of statutory rape (which I think we can all agree is not-rape, though we can argue about what it is). You and I can talk about the rape because we believe the account of the victim, but without a conviction on that more serious charge he is - in the eyes of the law - innocent until proven guilty of the rape. And thus Reuters will play it safe and refer to it only as a statutory rape case - or sex case for short, because he was convicted of having sex with a minor.
posted by jb at 1:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


less than 100% sure about the question at hand (whether Polanski should now serve time) is effectively a rape-apologist. In a similar way, Optimus Chyme upthread uses the phrase "Polanski pled guilty" (or some variation thereof) a total of eight times in one short paragraph. It's a bit much.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:56 PM on September 27


It was in response to Zambrano's assertion that Polanski did not rape the victim, or should not be punished for it, or both. That he pled guilty is an important aspect of this case: it establishes that he is guilty of the crime.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2009


Yeah, OC, I know what it was in response to, but repeating something eight times in one paragraph for emphasis is a bit of a rhetorical bludgeon, donchya think?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2009


Odd that also up on the blue today is a discussion of Poland's new chemical castration program for sex offenders.
posted by Football Bat at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


It may no longer be the wild 70s, but I don't think that a 13 year old CAN legally say yes to a 44 year old.

Well, the age of consent laws in the US were under review in the '70s, but they were very low for a long time, though the moral reformers which come in cycles in the US tended to favor higher ages, at least 16 years old. Now it's at least 16 all over the US, but IIRC in NM it used to be something like 14 when I was a teenager in the 1980s, though I'd have to look it up to be sure. The age of consent around the world to this day ranges from 13-17, but historically it was as low as 12 or even 11. What has been consistent is that it's inconsistent.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


C'mon guys he's a famous director and rich and classy. Let 'em go already.

We can direct our outrage at the poor, inner-city rapists now.
posted by Avenger at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2009


Yeah, OC, I know what it was in response to, but repeating something eight times in one paragraph for emphasis is a bit of a rhetorical bludgeon, donchya think?

Speaking of a bitch much, feel free to apologize for the Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares? comment that kicked this thread off.
posted by phaedon at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2009


I.. meant to say bit.
posted by phaedon at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2009


Odd that also up on the blue today is a discussion of Poland's new chemical castration program for sex offenders.

Well, the UK has had their own moral panic about pedophiles for some time now, similar to the US in fact, so it's not unique to the US at all.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2009


The age of consent around the world to this day ranges from 13-17

That should be 13-18.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2009


Fact is, the man was not just the widower of a brutally murdered pregnant wife, he was also a child survivor of the Holocaust who "... escaped the Kraków Ghetto in 1943, and survived the war with the help of Polish Roman Catholic families[10] in poor and uncertain conditions, sleeping in a barn next to cows." And immediately after the murder of his wife (before the world had ever even heard Charles Manson's name), the media effectively found him guilty of the crime and went so far as to accuse him of Satanism (based no doubt on his having directed Rosemary's Baby).

Yeah, the majority of people convicted of heinous crimes have sad backgrounds. I think most of your child rapists behind bars have equally sad, if less Hollywood-ready, backstories--ask any public defender. This is relevant (sometimes) to clemency at sentencing--not an excuse for skipping out on sentencing altogether, or an acceptable excuse for the crime.
posted by availablelight at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


It was in response to Zambrano's assertion that Polanski did not rape the victim, or should not be punished for it, or both. That he pled guilty is an important aspect of this case: it establishes that he is guilty of the crime.

Well, he plead guilty to a lesser charge, apparently.
posted by delmoi at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2009


It's called poisoning the well.

"you see that well? the one with cyanide in it? you just took your arsenic, dumped it in, and poisoned that well, i saw you!"

It's very difficult to build a counterargument against a simple, aggressive thesis like "He raped a 13-year old girl."

yeah, he rapes a 13 year old girl and WE'RE the aggressive ones for pointing it out?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2009


Stop pointing out that he raped a 13 year old, it's making it very difficult to ignore the fact that he raped a 13 year old!
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


All right, perhaps it's best put this way: The whole issue of "oh, his life was sad, the trial was unfair, etc." is a red herring, for the following reason: I believe that there are no mitigating factors for rape. None. If you rape someone, you should go to jail for it, and I don't care if there are grandstanding judges or if Charles Manson is involved. I don't give a shit if the hand of God come out of the sky, points at Polanski, and God says, "HE SHOULDN'T GO TO JAIL." He should still go to jail.

On the other hand, it appears that a number of people in this thread actually believe that there are mitigating factors for rape, i.e. circumstances under which a rapist should go free. I suppose that for the purposes of having a discussion, this reaches a base, moral level and isn't something that can be argued, but I'll just say that this second point of view is deeply disturbing to me.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:43 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the majority of people convicted of heinous crimes have sad backgrounds. I think most of your child rapists behind bars have equally sad, if less Hollywood-ready, backstories--ask any public defender. This is relevant (sometimes) to clemency at sentencing--not an excuse for skipping out on sentencing altogether, or an acceptable excuse for the crime.

No, but I think the reasonable thing at this point would be to have the sentence under the original plea bargain take effect, as all parties had originally agreed to. I think as some have argued that there might be a moral case for fleeing given the circumstances, if you look at it philosophically, though I can't really endorse it. I think the stronger moral case is to endure the punishment but work to get the sentencing in the original deal and to bring the facts of the case and judge to light as much as possible. This is never easy as a case to make to the general public, but it's not nearly as hard if you haven't left the country where you were convicted and sentenced and continued to live the life of a successful filmmaker.

It is interesting as a cultural issue that France treats the age of consent differently than Switzerland, though I understand the EU is coming into line with general guidelines on that area of law. I think Polanski deserved to be sentenced for statutory rape, though clearly he got a raw deal, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone with the means to deal with this who goes on the lam for decades. I understand it's not his desired mission in life to spend his time and energy fighting with a corrupt judge and an entrenched criminal justice system as a celebrity on display, but that is not really his choice anymore, and running from it only delays the inevitable. Even if he died as an old man who had not served a sentence, the stain would be stuck to him and his historic memory. Sort of like Woody Allen.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2009


On the other hand, it appears that a number of people in this thread actually believe that there are mitigating factors for rape...

Frobenius Twist ,
And I'm not one of them.

I do believe however then when even the prosecuting attorney understands why Polanski legged it - given the deeply murky games being played about his sentencing - there are mitigating factors for the decision to flee on the part of the guilty man.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, it appears that a number of people in this thread actually believe that there are mitigating factors for rape, i.e. circumstances under which a rapist should go free.

I don't think it's as clear as you think it is.

For instance, I mentioned in my post above that the age of consent in the US now is at a minimum of 16, but as recently as my own adolescence it was lower in the state where I grew up, like 14, and it has vacillated between 13 and 16 historically. Like marriage, age of consent falls under the jurisdiction of the state. So, what's statutory rape in one state is not across the border, and vice-versa, and may not be a crime today but may be tomorrow.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2009


Anjelica Huston.

I was wondering about that myself. Has that been proven? Did she testify?


Geimer mentioned her in a piece in the People, here.
posted by fire&wings at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2009


"Lesser charge." "Lesser crime." "Statutory rape is not rape."

I personally cannot believe what is being implied by these comments. The only sense in which statutory rape is a "lesser charge" is that it may not carry the same penalty in the eyes of the law as actual rape. And the only way it should be defined as a "lesser crime" is that it does not deal with the question of whether or not consent was given, and it is potentially offered by the DA's office as a means to more readily securing a conviction.

But beyond that - and by the way, the testimony in this case is enough to convince me that actual rape did occur - anyone that has the empathy to defend a 44-year old fucking a seventh grader whether consent was given or not needs to check themselves into a hospital.

But she forgives him. But it happened so long ago. But she may have wanted it. But think of his childhood. But look at all the media attention. Hey, I hope when a situation like this happens to you and your family that you feel the same degree of pathos. I'm willing to agree to disagree on this and leave it at that.
posted by phaedon at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


But, as has been pointed out, he wasn't actually convicted of the rape, but of the lesser charge of statutory rape (which I think we can all agree is not-rape

Based on the comments in this thread, I don't think that we can all agree on this.

If Polanski had fled before a trial, instead of before sentencing, I don't think that this thread would be significantly different. But the fact is, he plead guilty. Which, I believe, means that he is legally guilty. In this country, we do not typically leave sentencing up to the convicted. We leave it up to society, through the courts. He left before he could be sentenced, fairly or not. It doesn't really matter what the crime was, from the point of view of the American legal system, he is a fugitive.

Should he be extradited? I have no idea. That's up to the Swiss. I don't know anything about the Swiss justice system or politics. They have an extradition treaty with the United States. It looks like he has the right to contest this with the Swiss courts. But if he is extradited, he still needs to be sentenced for the crime to which he plead guilty and for which he was convicted. He says that the reason he left the country before sentencing was unfair bias from the judge, who has been dead for 15 years. It doesn't look like he was railroaded into a conviction, it looks like he was facing an unduly harsh sentence from the original judge.

If extradited, he should face a reasonable sentence for his crime, plus a sentence for fleeing.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much of the victim's desire to end the case is related to the cash settlement she received from Mr. Polanski? Again, there's a reason the victim's participation is not required for prosecuting felonies. I hope he gets a nice long sentence.
posted by norm at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2009


Geimer:
I don't carry feelings of anger towards Polanski. I even have some sympathy for him, what with his mother dying in a concentration camp and then his wife Sharon Tate being murdered by Charles Manson's people and spending the last 20 years as a fugitive. Life was hard for him, just like it was for me. He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life.

Even now, so-called experts are using my situation on TV talk shows to push their own points, which have nothing to do with how I feel. Twenty years ago everything said about me was horrible. But these days it's not fashionable to bad-mouth the victim. Now I'm all ready to stand up and defend myself and everyone is saying "oh, you poor thing." But I'm not a poor thing. And I can't oblige everyone by becoming freaked out and upset just to make things sound more interesting. If Polanski comes back—fine. That would at least end it. It will never be over until that happens.
Well there you go then. Except I'm pretty sure it won't end for a few more years yet (how old is he, 76?).
posted by Chuckles at 2:12 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Again, there's a reason the victim's participation is not required for prosecuting felonies.

My possibly incorrect understanding is, with acts of sexual aggression or domestic violence, it's much more difficult to prosecute without the victim's desire to bring the case. However, since Polanski has already been convicted, this isn't an issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2009


Well, I read this whole thread and as usual I learned a lot. I agree with most people here that he raped the girl and needs to pay for that crime. I am also pleased to see that we've gone this whole thread a no one has made a prison rape joke.
posted by RussHy at 2:22 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


But beyond that - and by the way, the testimony in this case is enough to convince me that actual rape did occur - anyone that has the empathy to defend a 44-year old fucking a seventh grader whether consent was given or not needs to check themselves into a hospital.

I think he should be sentenced under the guidelines of the statutory rape law at the time. I am concerned that the final outcome a trial involving one of the most infamous celebrity statutory rape cases in the last several decades will be turned into an excuse to make it a public flogging and focus far too much attention on a salacious celebrity scandal. I think justice would best be served - for the victim, the perp, and for the public - by handling this neatly and quietly and resisting temptation to make him a pariah. I know the press can't do this, but hoping whatever judge gets this will see fit to keep it dignified and still ensure Polanski is held accountable.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:24 PM on September 27, 2009


I just got to this thread, and I haven't read through all the comments, so I apologize if my comments have been voiced already.

What Polanski did was unquestionably wrong, whether you want to call it rape, or statutory rape, or quasi-rape, or whatever (personally, I'd say he forced sexual intercourse, thus it's rape). And Polanski's artistic abilities have nothing to do with the crime, nor does the crime have anything to do with his artistic abilities -- I don't think we have to condemn his movies if we think he's a rapist, nor do I think we have to forgive his rape if we love his movies, just like I can love T.S. Eliot's and Ezra Pound's poetry but find their anti-semitic, fascist politics abhorrent. They are 2 different things, and we should be able to separate them and view a work of art apart from its creator.

The question for me about whether or not Polanski should be arrested/tried/imprisoned/punished/etc. is this: what purpose does it serve? And I ask that in all sincerity, without any sarcasm.

The victim does not believe the case should be pursued, so it is meaningless as some sort of legal retribution pursued by society on her behalf. Is it as a warning? Beware rapists, if you assault a 13 yr. old you'll be able to live a full 30 years and then eventually get arrested?

Is it society pursuing its own vengeance on someone who violated our codes of behavior? Do we need to punish him to fulfill our own sense of being abused? Are we pursuing some higher moral principle, or are we out for vengeance? If the latter, is that justified?

Personally, I find the whole situation very unsettling. Letting him off the hook is, perhaps, betraying those in our society who need protection. But he has been let off that hook for the last 30 years, so I don't know how meaningful punishing a 76 yr old is at this point -- no young girls are going to sleep more soundly in their beds tonight knowing that evil Mr. Polanski isn't out there to harm them anymore. Something should be done, but I don't know what. Given the complexities and problems of the original trial, should he sit in prison for the rest of his life? Probably not, but receiving a free pass isn't right either. Perhaps this is a case where some thinking outside the box for the appropriate outcome is necessary. As lame as it is, maybe some sort of financial restitution for the victim & her family is in order -- give them 50% of all royalties Polanski receives for anything he's made after he fled (I don't say 100% because Polanski has kids of his own, and they don't deserve to have their financial support stripped because their dad did a horrible thing 15 years before they were born). Some time in prison and a major fine, perhaps, for fleeing his sentencing? Permanent, official exile from the US? I really don't know. But I don't think that bringing the hammer down on him serves a whole lot of good.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:24 PM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


My possibly incorrect understanding is, with acts of sexual aggression or domestic violence, it's much more difficult to prosecute without the victim's desire to bring the case.

Speaking from personal experience in a domestic violence case I worked, a jury found the defendent not guilty. In that situation the victim recanted almost immediately, and I think that had a lot of influence on the jury's decision.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2009


It seems that everyone is ignoring the fact that the renewed prosecution of Polanski has nothing to do with justice but the continued maleficence of the legal system. They were embarrassed by the documentary so they want to make themselves look good.

I like how the victim and the prosecutor's statements that the whole thing should be dropped mean nothing to so many of you. The people who were most involved with the case have decided that the most just thing is drop the case doesn't mean a thing. Yet America's excessive zeal when it comes to punishing criminals is regularly decried here.

Polanski is a dirty old man and did a terrible thing that should have been punished with the plea agreement. But the government fucked up the case so bad that there is no way to justly punish him for it. ever. If he goes to jail now, it will be a political act meant to appease people like the ones here calling for his head. It has nothing to do with making society a more just or safer place for women. In fact, it makes society a worse place because it excuses and condones the conduct of zealous prosecutors and judges.
posted by clockworkjoe at 2:30 PM on September 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Let's cut him some slack.

Let's cut him.
posted by bwg at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not so sure on the exact mechanisms of the legal aspects, but this is a serious question I have yet to see addressed:

Wouldn't there be some way for Polanksi and his defense to get this called off as a mistrial? The judge sounds like he's let his personal vendetta seriously interfere with the case. I don't say this to in any way defend Polanski's crime, I'm just curious as to why this option was never explored.
posted by Ndwright at 2:38 PM on September 27, 2009


But he has been let off that hook for the last 30 years, so I don't know how meaningful punishing a 76 yr old is at this point -- no young girls are going to sleep more soundly in their beds tonight knowing that evil Mr. Polanski isn't out there to harm them anymore.

I find it quite meaningful to punish a 76 year old who's been on the run (well, on the relaxed stroll on the Riviera) for 30 years. In a way, it's all the more bitter to escape, to think you've won, to think you've put your past behind you, only to be proven wrong.

There is deterrent value in imprisoning Polanski, insofar as it establishes that successful evasion for X number of years doesn't lessen the risk of being punished. It puts the lie to the idea that "I'll just hide out for a while, and reappear when this all blows over".

No, 13 year old girls don't need protection from Roman Polanski. But as a link upthread indicates, plenty of 13 year old girls are still in danger from celebrity rapists who swim in a sea of fame=untouchable. Every prosecution for rape of a celebrity is another case where a sense of celebrity entitlement loses out.

And speaking most broadly, there's something deeply noxious to our sense of justice about giving Polanski a pass when a no-name in the same situation would never excite the same defence.
posted by fatbird at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


it tends to imply that anyone who is less than 100% sure about the question at hand (whether Polanski should now serve time) is effectively a rape-apologist

What are the circumstances under which it is fair for a person convicted of a crime, who had fled from the jurisdiction of the court, to serve no time?

I can imagine some.

"Because the person is terminally ill and has a short time to live," might be one.

"Because the person seems near death for some other reason, such as extremely advanced age," might be another.

"Because it turns out he did not commit the crime he was convicted of" is a good one.

"Because we now believe that the crime for which he was convicted should never have been a crime at all" is another good one.

But none of those reasons apply to Polanski. And I don't think that "The victim forgave him" or "The victim publicly states that she'd prefer for him not to be tried" are very good reasons. Certainly, "It was a long time ago" is a very bad reason.

Myself, I tend to look at flight like that as, while understandable, a deeply aggravating circumstance if you're caught and eventually sentenced. I tend to look at what you might call crimes against courts like that (or like police or prosecutorial misconduct) as not just crimes against some particular law but crimes against law itself. My own reaction would be to sentence him to his original sentence plus all time that he had spent eluding the authority of the court, or plus that time multiplied by some number greater than one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


It has nothing to do with making society a more just or safer place for women. In fact, it makes society a worse place because it excuses and condones the conduct of zealous prosecutors and judges.

I don't quite follow that, but it did spark one little thought: American taxpayers will no doubt soon be paying a lot of money for a foreign citizen's stay in an already overcrowded US prison.

Like I said, it's a little thought. But it's something.

P.S. Raping kids is bad.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2009


giving Polanski a pass

In fairness to SaxonKane and what he wrote in his comment, I don't think he's arguing for giving RP a "pass." Instead, he's saying he's uncertain about what the best punishment would be for RP given the situation. He's admitting some ambivalence about precisely what should now be done in the name of justice.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2009


What the victim thinks she wants now is irrelevant.

Revealing turn of phrase there, cowpatty--implying as it does that the victim is confused about what she wants. It may or may not matter what she wants, but let's at least give her the benefit of the doubt when she says (repeatedly, and under no known pressure to do so) that she wants charges dropped.


Good eye, HP LaserJet P10006. I intentionally chose the word "thinks" because I believe it is not at all uncommon for a victim of a non-stranger related rape to be confused about what she wants, particularly in a high profile case. Nevertheless, it remains irrelevant to the case.
posted by cowpattybingo at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2009


Polanski is a dirty old man and did a terrible thing that should have been punished with the plea agreement. But the government fucked up the case so bad that there is no way to justly punish him for it.

Well, the law requires something happen if we have him in custody, as apparently he's still considered a fugitive. Even if he is sentenced, there is always the possibility of a suspended sentence.

My own reaction would be to sentence him to his original sentence plus all time that he had spent eluding the authority of the court, or plus that time multiplied by some number greater than one.

I don't think the law allows sentencing quite that creative, though I'm not professionally a law talkin' guy.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:49 PM on September 27, 2009


I guess we can agree on that, anyway.
posted by cowpattybingo at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2009


He struck a plea bargain to unlawful sex with a minor (the charge was not statutory rape, because that's not the term used in California, or wasn't at the time.) And, regardless of what he did or didn't do, that's what he pleaded guilty to so that's what the law says he did. He didn't confess, or plead guilty, to drugging and/or and raping to her. I am infuriated that they're calling it a "sex" case, when it is clearly a rape case, but we can't ignore what the guilty plea is. However heinous (and yeah, super-duper heinous, to conflate the weight of terms), that's the law. We can't go after criminals for charges that were dropped in exchange for plea bargains.

If it were current, and the victim were still a minor, I'd say take him. But the victim is a forty-four-year-old woman who has already said more than once that she wants it to stop, and she thinks he should be legally allowed to return to the U.S. (not that her opinion has any legal weight, as noted above). The only reason it's still a big deal is because he's a famous "Hollywood-type," the kind of person America looooooves to rip down (please note that I am not saying we should let him off the hook *because* he is a famous film director). But rather than spending the tax-payers dollars--and, let's face it, an enormous amount of money and time on the circus that will go along with it--my opinion is Jesus Fucking Christ, enough already. Do we want this woman to have to go through this all over again? Because you *know* that will happen. The media will smell that blood in the water and go looking for all the prey it can.

He is not a danger to society. He has never, before or since, molested a teenager or minor (and yes, I know, it's... possible something happened and no one ever reported it, but after such an infamous case, you'd think people would be crawling out of the woodwork to do so if something happened). Child molesters, as we define them legally, don't stop.

And, yes, not that any of this is an excuse, but mitigating circumstances are introduced in most every case of crimes of this nature, the thread has already mentioned the concentration camp and his eight-and-a-half-months-pregnant wife being stabbed to death sixteen times.

xmutex: Yeah but she stabbed and killed his pregnant wife a long, long time ago he drugged and raped a teenager a long, long time ago. I mean keeping her in prison now is just about revenge and nothing else sending him to prison now is just about revenge and nothing else.

I assume you see what I did there.
posted by tzikeh at 2:55 PM on September 27, 2009


I find it quite meaningful to punish a 76 year old who's been on the run (well, on the relaxed stroll on the Riviera) for 30 years. In a way, it's all the more bitter to escape, to think you've won, to think you've put your past behind you, only to be proven wrong.

OK, but this raises even more questions. Is the legal system's purpose to give you (or anyone else) a personal sense of satisfaction? Is it to be a major buzzkill to the fleeing criminal and give him a taste of "bitterness"?

plenty of 13 year old girls are still in danger from celebrity rapists who swim in a sea of fame=untouchable. Every prosecution for rape of a celebrity is another case where a sense of celebrity entitlement loses out.

Sure, but for every 13 yr old girl in danger of celebrity rape, there are probably 100 who are in much more danger of being raped by their father/brother/uncle/family friend/teacher/babysitter/whatever. Yes, celebrity entitlement is a very, very bad thing, but I don't think this case (or any successfully prosecuted criminal case against a celebrity) will do much to dent it. It is a part of the very way our culture conceives of fame. I'm not saying that is a reason NOT to try Polanski. I'm saying it's not a reason TO try him -- that is, "We want to punish Polanski so people won't think that celebrities can get away with crimes" is, in and of itself, compelling. It has little to do with the actual crime.

speaking most broadly, there's something deeply noxious to our sense of justice about giving Polanski a pass when a no-name in the same situation would never excite the same defence.

Absolutely. Unfortunately, everyone with a little money and/or fame almost always gets far better service from the justice system than the average Joe. But again, making Polanski a scapegoat for all celebrities doesn't do much to address the real problem of the way our legal system operates. It is, in my opinion, a way for us to feel good about our justice system; it is a cover, a band-aid. Again, that's not to argue that he shouldn't receive any punishment (as I've tried to express, I really don't know what he should face in the form of official or unofficial punishments) but just that it isn't a compelling reason on its own.

And I don't think that "The victim forgave him" or "The victim publicly states that she'd prefer for him not to be tried" are very good reasons.

I'm curious as to why you think this? Not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to know your reasoning.

I think we need to get Michael Sandel from the thread up-page to help us out on this.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was convicted, he should serve the time. To let him off the hook would mean that the government doesn't take rape seriously or believe in punishing sexual predators. It's not a matter of protecting victims from Polanski, it's a matter of enforcing the laws of society and deterring other perpetrators. And of empowering victims to believe that if they have the courage to bring their rapist to court, they will be heard and get justice. If we're only going to selectively enforce the law, then what is the point of law at all?

The victim's wishes are beside the point. Are we saying that it's okay to rape someone if 30 years later they'll get over it?
posted by Marnie at 3:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


He is not a danger to society. He has never, before or since, molested a teenager or minor

Incorrect.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I believe it is not at all uncommon for a victim of a non-stranger related rape to be confused about what she wants

I believe it's also not uncommon for smug, self-righteous people to second-guess a victim and think a victim's thoughts must conform to their own. No wonder in this case the victim feels more violated by the media than she does by what transpired. We owe it to her not to second-guess her about what she says: she's had 32 years to mull it over, and if she voluntarily and repeatedly says in no unequivocal way that she feels no bitterness and thinks the charges should now be dropped, we should give her the courtesy of taking her at her word--even if we still feel her viewpoint is ultimately irrelevant to the case at hand.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


I assume you see what I did there.

You used the HTML strike element to remove my words and then inserted your own.
posted by xmutex at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2009 [13 favorites]



I don't quite follow that, but it did spark one little thought: American taxpayers will no doubt soon be paying a lot of money for a foreign citizen's stay in an already overcrowded US prison.

Like I said, it's a little thought. But it's something.


Well, it basically proves that the US government doesn't care how corrupt the conduct of its own agents are - if someone is convicted, then they must be punished. In other words, so what if the judge has a vendetta against the defendant? The government will follow through, no matter what.

I hold judges, prosecutors and other LEO agents to much higher standards than average citizens. They don't get a free pass to do whatever they want and then have their decisions enforced.
posted by clockworkjoe at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


in the United States, many crimes are prosecuted without the victim needing to assist the prosecution

Even on Mars, I imagine that murder victims aren't called upon to assist the prosecution.
posted by oaf at 3:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


He ain't no Jean Valjean.
posted by jadepearl at 3:05 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Optimus Chyme: From the wikipedia page you linked, I found this relevant quote:

"At 15 Kinski began a romantic relationship with director Roman Polanski.[6][7] Polanski urged her to study acting with Lee Strasberg in the United States and cast her in his film, Tess (1979)."

That's at least phrased differently than "molested" or "raped." Now, we can argue whether or not it is possible for a 15 yr old to "consent" to sexual relations with an adult, and whether or not it was possible for Kinski in particular to consent given her situation at the time, but that's not exactly evidence that Polanski is a serial child molester.

In fairness to SaxonKane and what he wrote in his comment, I don't think he's arguing for giving RP a "pass." Instead, he's saying he's uncertain about what the best punishment would be for RP given the situation. He's admitting some ambivalence about precisely what should now be done in the name of justice.

Thanks HP, that's exactly what I was trying to get at. I really don't know what is the best thing to be done in this situation, but the whole thing is beyond fucked up.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Optimus--oh, I am certain this is going to make me just vile in many Mefites's eyes--but the age of consent in France is 15, which is how old Nastassja Kinski was when they began their consensual relationship. So--no molestation, and no minor. I withdraw my use of "teenager."
posted by tzikeh at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fine. But let's all stop pretending that Polanski doesn't have a history of sexual conduct with girls under the age of 18.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:11 PM on September 27, 2009


You used the HTML strike element to remove my words and then inserted your own.

Okay, that made me laugh out loud. But, to my point, you are saying that you are more ready to forgive a vicious and unrepentant murderer her sentence because she committed the murder "a long, long time ago," than a man who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor a long, long time ago--and that keeping her in prison is nothing more than revenge, while putting him in prison would not be vengeful. I can't go there with you, but I would like to hear what your reasoning is. I'm completely honest.

(In a million years I never thought I'd be defending Roman Polanski!)
posted by tzikeh at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2009


After we finish with Polanski, can we go after Bush and Cheney?
posted by Karmadillo at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think he should get what's coming to him, but:

There's always been something about Polanski's dilemma that's kind of made me hope he doesn't get it, and that's the fact that he's living proof of America's hypocrisy about sex offenders. He's had a scarlet letter on his head for 30 years, and dammit, you still went to see his movies. That right there should give any reasonable person pause when they talk about meting out punishment to sex offenders. Some of you, at least, and many people you know, enjoyed the works of a creepy old jailbait date-rapist, for 30 years.

What he did was wrong. Very wrong. But rather than getting squicky about the fact that you or people you know enjoyed the work of a man who date-raped a teenage girl, remember that sex offenders are people too. It's an ugly side of him; it is not his entirety, and that other side of him, the one that directs movies, makes something beautiful. The only way to reintegrate these people back into society after they've paid their debts, the only way to convince them that it's not worth it to go back to jail, is to help them heal, and offer them the chance to return to a normal life, to become something other than a sex offender. It's hard to ask, but if your alternative is locking them up for life or banishing them for life from participation in society, why in the hell should they even try to abide by our rules after they've broken them?
posted by saysthis at 3:15 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


This isn't revenge; he committed a crime, admitted he was guilty and evaded punishment. He has to be punished.

Oh, that is revenge. Punishment must be received for bad behavior and there are four reasons why we punish and there is but one that applies, retribution, and that one essentially equals revenge. So yes, this is all about revenge. We have an entire thread of people aghast at the fact that he will "get away" with committing this awful crime, and it was an awful crime and he is an evil ass raper to be sure, but seeking punishment because of the awful nature of the crime is the essence of revenge.

Revenge - To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult).

Don't tell me it isn't revenge.
posted by caddis at 3:19 PM on September 27, 2009


And speaking most broadly, there's something deeply noxious to our sense of justice about giving Polanski a pass when a no-name in the same situation would never excite the same defence.

Yes, but the law at the time was not called statutory rape, and in actuality the courts would probably not have treated a similar situation involving a young teenager and a non-celebrity adult as a rape case at the time, or even a crime. Not that it's right, but the concept of sex involving an adult with a willing teenager (even one drinking and taking 'ludes) automatically equating to rape was not exactly the conventional wisdom at the time, neither socially nor in the law, though in the '70s this was starting to change.

Of course now it seems so obvious, but when the case was prosecuted it wasn't. What was scandalous was that it was made public, and of course he's a 'godless European artiste' who was tied up in the hippie and drug subculture and tragically the whole Manson thing, perfect-ready for a scapegoat for the US undergoing massive social upheavals. Of course he comes off as sleazy anyway, and mothers and fathers still didn't want their teenage daughters around guys like that to put it mildly, but in a lot of ways it was still treated as a social issue within the public square rather than a legal issue, such as, dirty old man, you screw my daughter and I'll come over with my shotgun/run you out of town. That sort of thing. Patriarchal, but a lot of the courts didn't really do much about it, and most women were much more scared to put something like that from their lives in public and didn't have much legal protection in court. Trying to prosecute and having to testify and deal with the aftermath would hurt them in many ways whether or not they were being honest and doing the right thing, and to this day there is still a stigma attached to the victims of rape. I think if he were an ordinary guy and he did the same thing and got caught by the community, right or wrong, that would have been his more likely fate had it come out, and maybe permanent exile would have been his fate in the end anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:23 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


SaxonKane: Is the legal system's purpose to give you (or anyone else) a personal sense of satisfaction?

Part of its purpose is to give me a sense of justice being done. And not carrying out the sentence for a crime to which Polanski pleaded guilty does not fulfill that purpose. It says that successful evasion of enforcement for a certain period of time renders the court's verdict moot. It institutionalizes the fact that the wealthy can escape justice. As you observe, this is already true in fact--but that's a fact to be fought against, not acquiesced to.

Yes, celebrity entitlement is a very, very bad thing, but I don't think this case (or any successfully prosecuted criminal case against a celebrity) will do much to dent it.

For any particular case, you can argue that putting away this defendant won't dent the overall occurrence of the crime. I don't see how that's material. Deterrence is formed by the consistency with which instances of a crime are prosecuted, not by the varying deterrence value of any one crime. It's a justice system.

But again, making Polanski a scapegoat for all celebrities doesn't do much to address the real problem of the way our legal system operates.

He's not being made a scapegoat. He committed a crime, made a plea deal, and pleaded guilty. He should only serve out the time to which he should be sentenced. I'm not talking about making him a martyr for other celebrity malcontents, only that he be forced to submit to the deal to which he agreed.

I really don't know what is the best thing to be done in this situation, but the whole thing is beyond fucked up.

He should be put in prison to serve the sentence to which he putatively surrendered himself. I don't see why you're uncertain about that. I think this case is suffering from microscopic attention: when you look closely, you can see a thousand details that argue one way or another that the case is different from our ideal of justice where a bad person is punished for wrongdoing. Everyone has a compelling story.
posted by fatbird at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't tell me it isn't revenge.

So what if it is revenge? It's legal revenge. It's revenge in the same way that all legal punishment for crime is revenge. Are we to stop punishing crime?
posted by fatbird at 3:30 PM on September 27, 2009


He's had a scarlet letter on his head for 30 years, and dammit, you still went to see his movies. That right there should give any reasonable person pause when they talk about meting out punishment to sex offenders. Some of you, at least, and many people you know, enjoyed the works of a creepy old jailbait date-rapist, for 30 years.

I have never, ever understood this kind of argument. If you can't separate the art from the artist, you're going to lead a very dull cultural life.

Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Ray Bradbury, Marion Cotillard, Orson Scott Card, Kristen Chenowith, Michael Jackson... how much art should I avoid because I find the artist's beliefs/deeds despicable?
posted by tzikeh at 3:30 PM on September 27, 2009


I believe it's also not uncommon for smug, self-righteous people to second-guess a victim and think a victim's thoughts must conform to their own. We owe it to her not to second-guess her about what she says: posted by HP LaserJet P10006

If it were up to the victim, she'd let a rapist go free. Based on that, is it my opinion that the victim is confused? Yes. Can I unequivocably know someone else's state of mind? Absolutely not. But I would hope that I could express my opinion here, and even if it differs from your own, not be subjected to name-calling. That hardly encourages an open exchange of ideas.
posted by cowpattybingo at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2009


Part of its purpose is to give me a sense of justice being done.

Of course, but my point is what is justice in this particular case, and justice for whom?

Deterrence is formed by the consistency with which instances of a crime are prosecuted

That's debatable. I'm really not sure as to if or how the US (or any other) justice system really does enforce deterrence.

He's not being made a scapegoat.

I think that it is inescapable that he or anyone else in such a high profile position will be made a scapegoat -- by the media attention, by the emotions the case provokes in observers, etc.

He should be put in prison to serve the sentence to which he putatively surrendered himself. I don't see why you're uncertain about that. I think this case is suffering from microscopic attention: when you look closely, you can see a thousand details that argue one way or another that the case is different from our ideal of justice where a bad person is punished for wrongdoing.

I think the "details" that the original trial/judge was more than a little fucked up and the victim herself doesn't believe in the case are important to consider, that's why I'm unsure. And, as I said before, I don't know what sense of "justice" is actually being served here. I think that any justice system that is purely x+y=z without the allowance of human reasoning to intervene based on situational differences is a bad, bad thing. See, for example, zero-tolerance & 3-strikes laws. That's not justice, that's mathematical formula.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2009


how much art should I avoid because I find the artist's beliefs/deeds despicable?

Yep. Ever heard Genius Is Pain?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:42 PM on September 27, 2009


If it were up to the victim, she'd let a rapist go free.Based on that, is it my opinion that the victim is confused? Yes.

Because for the victim, the cost to her and her family presented by imprisoning the rapist outweighs any possible benefit she may feel or that she thinks society may get from it. I don't see how that's "confusion" -- it's not like she's saying, "Oh, I don't know if he raped me or not" or "Maybe I did something to deserve it." It seems like the "she's confused" argument insists on victimizing the victim in perpetuity. I think that we can recognize the horrific nature of the crime committed against her while also granting that she, as a human being, has been able to overcome it and build a life for herself not totally dominated by trauma in the last 30 years.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:44 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have never, ever understood this kind of argument. If you can't separate the art from the artist, you're going to lead a very dull cultural life.

Nonexistent cultural life you mean. Hell, even Thomas Kinkade is a son of a bitch. What's worse are the people who like to judge others for liking art made by bad people.

Chinatown is a masterpiece of a movie and if you think I'm a bad person for thinking that because RP is a bad person then you're a hypocrite and an asshole.
posted by clockworkjoe at 3:44 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The principles of penal policy are:
1) specific deterrence - prevent this evil doer from doing more evil by locking him up away from the public where he can't hurt them and put the fear of punishment into him to deter future evil acts"
The state has usually has the opportunity to assess whether future crimes are likely while the perpetrator is in prison. Has any assessment been made while this perpetrator has not been in prison? If not, I don't see it as unreasonable to pick up where things had left off, until such judgement can be appropriately made.
posted by edd at 3:45 PM on September 27, 2009


Hey Chinatown is great. Now lock him up.
posted by Scoo at 3:51 PM on September 27, 2009


Of course, but my point is what is justice in this particular case, and justice for whom?

Justice for those served by the justice system, meaning all of us, to see a criminal punished for his crime. It doesn't have to be more profound or specific than that.

I think that it is inescapable that he or anyone else in such a high profile position will be made a scapegoat -- by the media attention, by the emotions the case provokes in observers, etc.

You're using the word 'scapegoat' very loosely here. He hasn't served his sentence, but he has been branded as a child molestor--but then again, that doesn't seem to have hurt him much, except prevent him from receiving lifetime achievement awards at ceremonies held in the U.S.

A scapegoat is someone/thing punished for the sake of others. Polanski, to the extent he has been punished, is not suffering for anything but his own crime. If that punishment is somehow disproportionate because he is a celebrity, it's more than balanced by his wherewithal to flee the jurisdiction and escape jail time.

the victim herself doesn't believe in the case

As someone observed upthread, if the victim wanted him executed, he wouldn't be executed. The victim's wishes might mitigate the sentence (just as a victim impact statement might also have an effect), but her thinking is somewhat compromised, to my mind, by having won a civil suit and punished him monetarily.

And, as I said before, I don't know what sense of "justice" is actually being served here.

The general sense of a crime being committed, the criminal caught and found guilty, and the criminal punished. I don't see why Polanski's celebrity or his successful evasion of his sentence should change that at all. We don't punish people solely because of the victim's suffering, or even mainly because of it. We punish people for breaking the law because we order our society, in part, through the law. I'm not suggesting that it be mechanical or unthinking. But in this case, I see no reason at all not to carry through on what the justice system started.

To the extent there were problems with the first trial, there are means to redress that through the justice system. And someone like Polanski has the ability to fight that out as much as possible, and I wouldn't begrudge him that.
posted by fatbird at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


He's not being made a scapegoat. He committed a crime, made a plea deal, and pleaded guilty. He should only serve out the time to which he should be sentenced.

Shouldn't he be sentenced for fleeing from justice on top of that? Surely that is a crime as well.
posted by acb at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't he be sentenced for fleeing from justice on top of that? Surely that is a crime as well.

This gets a little murky to me, because it seems he had some morally legitimate reasons to flee, given the prosecutor and judge's misconduct. And that should be evaluated and weighed in the balance. If there was no material misconduct, then yes, he should additionally be sentenced for fleeing.
posted by fatbird at 3:58 PM on September 27, 2009


To quote prosecutor himself:

"I'm not surprised that he left the country under those circumstances."
posted by philip-random at 4:01 PM on September 27, 2009


This gets a little murky to me, because it seems he had some morally legitimate reasons to flee

You don't flee. Joe Blow doesn't flee because he doesn't have a Paris bolthole and a fortune with which to relocate his life to Europe and live it out for 30 years. If there has been a miscarriage you stay and fight it and appeal through the proper channels.
posted by fire&wings at 4:18 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm curious as to why you think this? Not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to know your reasoning.

It's hard to answer a "Why do you think this is irrelevant?" question beyond "Because the one has nothing to do with the other."

The victim's feelings one way or the other, or other more objective findings of the effects of the crime upon the victim, could legitimately be taken into account as aggravating or mitigating factors when the sentence is being determined.

But the victim's feelings just don't have anything to do with the question of "Should this person who was convicted of X receive some sentence for X?"

Not that it's right, but the concept of sex involving an adult with a willing teenager (even one drinking and taking 'ludes) automatically equating to rape was not exactly the conventional wisdom at the time

To be clear, you're saying that in the 1970s if a middle-class white 13 year old girl went to the cops with the story of "A middle aged man my mom knows gave me booze and drugs and then made me have sex with him," the cops and DA would have just brushed it aside unless the alleged offender were rich and famous?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:19 PM on September 27, 2009


I think that we can recognize the horrific nature of the crime committed against her while also granting that she, as a human being, has been able to overcome it and build a life for herself not totally dominated by trauma in the last 30 years.

I too applaud her for overcoming this horrific crime. She is clearly a survivor, and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to read that she has managed to build a happy life for herself despite her victimization. When one begins pondering how many other rapes Polanski might have committed or might go on to commit, I remain relieved that the victim is not in charge of determining his fate, however. If that makes me guilty of victimizing her in perpetuity, than I suppose I will have to learn to live with that.
posted by cowpattybingo at 4:21 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


We punish people for breaking the law because we order our society, in part, through the law. I'm not suggesting that it be mechanical or unthinking.

Well, actually, you're doing that thing exactly just a few moments earlier:

Justice for those served by the justice system, meaning all of us, to see a criminal punished for his crime. It doesn't have to be more profound or specific than that.

If application of the law is neither profound nor specific, then it seems pretty mechanical: This is a crime, and this is the penalty for the crime, forever and ever, amen. I'm not saying that's good or bad, necessarily. I'm just saying that that's a pretty serious self-contradiction you've got going on there.

Personally, I won't shed any tears if Polanski is imprisoned. But I'm not going to kid myself that it'll mean shit, either. The damage to his victim was done. It cannot be undone. He doesn't pose a plausible threat to anyone now. Imprisoning him won't deter anybody from doing the same thing -- child molesters generally know what they're doing is not legal. This isn't a wake-up call. It's just a chance for the morally outraged to feel good about things, while children continue to be molested at exactly the same rate as before he went to jail. It's just tough for me to really give a damn about him either way.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:21 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


If application of the law is neither profound nor specific, then it seems pretty mechanical:

You misinterpreted what I said. I wasn't talking about the application of the law, I was talking about our reasons for not letting Polanski escape the justice system by fleeing the jurisdiction. The law should certainly be applied by thinking individuals who weigh the various factors with human judgement.
posted by fatbird at 4:27 PM on September 27, 2009


Imprisoning him won't deter anybody from doing the same thing.

I'm not sure I agree. As someone posted above, young women wishing to be models or actors are still often coerced into sex by the men who wield power, and that's implicitly seen as part of the bargain even whilst being officially disapproved of. And Polanski has become the poster boy for getting away with rape by sheer cultural clout. Sending him to jail for a good long stretch would send a clear and resounding message that this sort of thing is not acceptable, and that it will be punished. If the mighty Polanski can fall, can any predatory douchebag still consider himself safe to prey on young women?
posted by acb at 4:31 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK, I just watched the movie. Several things:

(1) Pretty much the first half is hagiography from his friends, plus some of them angrily blaming the mother of the victim.

(2) At least some of it is cut together misleadingly. Example: It shows various lines from the victim's grand jury testimony, one at a time. It does this out of order. A particularly egregious example was when it was trying to portray the interviewer as hectoring the victim. It showed, one at a time, a bunch of questions like "Have you ever had intercourse before?"; "Do you know what semen is?"; "Had you ever had quaaludes before?". It didn't show answers; it then cut to "Please answer yes or no".

In reality, the victim answered all of those questions, and they were brought up in response to testimony (such as the interviewer asking "Do you know what semen is" after the victim said that his semen came out).

And "Please answer yes or no" came not because the victim wasn't answering; it came because after one question she answered "Yeah" instead of "Yes".

(3) The judge does seem to have acted inappropriately at the very least - trying to frame the sentencing for the media, such as telling the lawyers that the prosecution should argue for incarceration, the defense for probation, and that he would rule for a 48 day sentence, if Polanski agreed to waive his deportation rights.

All of this seems to have come after Polanski had already pled guilty.

(4) There are some misconceptions in comments in this thread:
How old did Polanski think she was?
Nobody knows.
That's false. Polanski testified that he had understood her to be thirteen years old.
the prosecutor's statements that the whole thing should be dropped
The closest I heard the prosecutor come to saying that the whole thing should be dropped was that he wasn't surprised Polanski had fled.
prosecutorial misconduct
Nothing in the film suggested prosecutorial misconduct. In fact, it was clear that the prosecutor agreed that the judge was misbehaving in the pre-sentencing period, and in fact he helped the defense get the judge dismissed because of it.
posted by Flunkie at 4:40 PM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


I suspect this comment isn't going to go over well. I'm going to make it anyway.

Upthread, someone said "I believe that there are no mitigating factors for rape".

That, right there, is part of the problem with the argument going on here.

Of course there can be mitigating factors for rape. There can be mitigating factors for any crime.

No. Seriously. There can be. Can you really not picture in your head ANY situation where you thought someone was consenting and/or of age and they turned out to be not consenting and/or of age?

Now, you may think there are no mitigating factors in this particular case. I actually don't have an opinion (I wasn't there, and I wasn't at the trial, either.) But some people are essentially saying, "Perhaps there were mitigating factors in this case -- this should be discussed", and the reaction they are getting is in general not, "I disagree, and here's why," but "YOU ARE A BAD AND EVIL PERSON! HE'S A RAPEY RAPIST WHO RAPES PEOPLE AND IF YOU DO NOT THINK HE SHOULD BE IMPRISONED THEN YOU ARE IN FAVOR OF RAPE!"
posted by kyrademon at 4:47 PM on September 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


I personally cannot believe what is being implied by these comments. The only sense in which statutory rape is a "lesser charge" is that it may not carry the same penalty in the eyes of the law as actual rape.

Uh, this was in the 1970s when the laws and social norms were different.

Anyway, I agree that in this particular case it was a rape, but he pled down to, and was convicted of something that was not rape rape in the eyes of the law, at the time.
Good eye, HP LaserJet P10006. I intentionally chose the word "thinks" because I believe it is not at all uncommon for a victim of a non-stranger related rape to be confused about what she wants, particularly in a high profile case.
She doesn't sound confused. I think what you said is pretty sexist "oh the sweet innocent girl just doesn't know what's best for her. Since she doesn't agree with us, it must because she's all mixed up and confused"
posted by delmoi at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What has Kristen Chenowith said/believed/done that is bad? I don't particularly like her - actually, she kind of creeps me out a bit - but I am curious.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2009


Why are you even participating to this thread, mediareport?

You're kidding, right? In this thread, I quickly 1) linked to the victim's grand jury testimony, which detailed the horror of her rape in clear, undeniable terms, 2) linked to the *highly* relevant backstory in the documentary that almost nobody here seemed to be aware of before jerking their knees, 3) linked quotes from Geimer about why she cooperated with the doc makers, attended the premiere and now says the charges should be dropped and 4) have stayed calm and rational while doing my best to correct misstatements of fact in other comments.

I fail to see anything you've contributed to this thread that matches the above.

Because I'm still struck by your comment that because the victim has let go of this ordeal (whatever that means, and good for her if she has) that it follows that the American government should let go of the fact that he has eluded his conviction, which is a claim I think you're still defending.

You can be struck by that comment all you like; it was meant in the context of the rest of this particular case. That the victim now agrees with the original prosecutor that there was a miscarriage of justice in the way the judge handled the case is indeed essential to my feelings about this case, but I've never claimed that any time a victim "lets go" of a rape the state should give up prosecution. This case, though, is clearly an example of a situation where the victim's desire for acquittal matters. To me.
posted by mediareport at 5:03 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Imprisoning him won't deter anybody from doing the same thing -- child molesters generally know what they're doing is not legal. This isn't a wake-up call. It's just a chance for the morally outraged to feel good about things, while children continue to be molested at exactly the same rate as before he went to jail.

It most certainly will deter some sexual predators from thinking they can get away with it so easily, especially on the casting couch. And it will empower more victims to step forward knowing that what happened to them is wrong, that it will be taken seriously, and that they have a voice. The answer to discouraging child molestation is not to stop punishing child molesters. It's to enforce the norm that the practice is unacceptable to society and give victims - and not just Polanski's victim but ALL victims - the power to defend themselves.

If somebody rapes me and I think that the charge could be dismissed because the attacker is a sympathetic character or famous or whatever, why put myself through testifying at a rape trial at all? Why not just cut my losses and not risk reporting it? Sexual predators count on their victims' silence, or failing that on their victims not being taken seriously, particularly when those victims are children. It's why they're such successful repeat offenders, and it's why it takes so much courage to come forward and confront them. Some of them may not be deterred no matter what, but giving their victims a voice and access to justice means that they may eventually be caught and put out of commission as far as ass-raping teenagers. And part of that is being consistent in enforcing the law and not letting people off the hook because it's been a long time and he's famous. If we let some people get away with it, there's no point, and it gets even harder for victims to come forward knowing they may be putting themselves through Hell for nothing.
posted by Marnie at 5:03 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


I too applaud her for overcoming this horrific crime.

Until now, I thought you were asserting that any claims she made about overcoming it were suspect:

it is not at all uncommon for a victim of a non-stranger related rape to be confused about what she wants

Thus, I think you've done an about-face on your views, going from this:

a) what she says about overcoming the rape can't possibly be taken at face-value, since she is confused and traumatized

to this:

b) what she says about overcoming the rape should be taken at face value, but ultimately ignored b/c irrelevant to the legal process of the case

I'm glad you came around to point b, since point a is just incredibly arrogant and patronizing.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread has completely reversed my opinion on this. You go, Metafilter.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be clear, you're saying that in the 1970s if a middle-class white 13 year old girl went to the cops with the story of "A middle aged man my mom knows gave me booze and drugs and then made me have sex with him," the cops and DA would have just brushed it aside unless the alleged offender were rich and famous?

This is assuming a couple things which most likely would not have happened.

1) The victim would have told anyone at all
2) The victim would have told her family
3) The family would have gone to (or even considered) the law to solve their problem

Again, I'm not saying it was right, but things have changed since then, too. Today, we easily and quickly assume the best option is going to the law, but a lot of victims today still don't tell anyone out of a sense of shame or fear, and society still tends to treat the victim pretty harshly through the legal process. 30-40 years ago, the tendency was to sweep it under the carpet or blame the victim. As a teenager, a friend's sister was date-raped, and she never wanted to prosecute, so it never happened. She didn't want to go through it again, and the outcome was far from certain, though there was no doubt as to what happened and as to her honesty. We believed her, but there was no assurance it would work out that way in court, and the idea of going through it and losing was too much for her to deal with. This was only 20 years ago, she was 16 not 13, and she had a lot of supportive people around her, but she still declined, and there was not enough evidence outside her testimony to prosecute.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2009


She's an evangelical Christian?
posted by Methylviolet at 5:18 PM on September 27, 2009


RAPE IS NOT SEX!

a 43 year-old pedophile drugs a 13 year-old and forces himself on her: that's called RAPE. had he done so repeatedly it turns into child abuse.

neither CHILD ABUSE nor RAPE are "SEX".
posted by liza at 5:26 PM on September 27, 2009


She doesn't sound confused. I think what you said is pretty sexist "oh the sweet innocent girl just doesn't know what's best for her. Since she doesn't agree with us, it must because she's all mixed up and confused."

I'm roughly the same age (and gender, by the way) as the victim in this case, and if I had been dealing with this for 30 years, I too would want nothing better than to put it behind me and get on with my life. If that meant opening the door to further criminal misconduct by a convicted rapist and making a mockery of the judicial system, however, I'd like to think I could find another way.
posted by cowpattybingo at 5:29 PM on September 27, 2009


It goes without saying that none of this justifies rape of a child, but it does color things, makes it all less black and white, which is the kind of world I choose to live in. posted by philip-random at 3:45 PM on September 27


the bad-judge-tricks of this case dont color anything.

he ran away from the law.

he's a fugitive.

he can at least spend a good 10-15 years in prison just for being a fugitive.

to which i say: let him rot in jail.
posted by liza at 5:31 PM on September 27, 2009


to which i say: let him rot in jail.

If it comes down to scant resources available for such things (CA is dead broke), I'd rather have a young violent perp in jail than a geriatric one, all things being equal.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:36 PM on September 27, 2009


But, to my point, you are saying that you are more ready to forgive a vicious and unrepentant murderer her sentence because she committed the murder "a long, long time ago,"

No, I was being sarcastic.
posted by xmutex at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2009


Maybe he can share a cell with Phil Spector.
posted by the_bone at 5:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe he can share a cell with Phil Spector.

Given that Spector's in the same prison as Manson (see: Manson asks Phil Spector to collaborate in jail), that could be weird.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


What has Kristin Chenowith said/believed/done that is bad? I don't particularly like her - actually, she kind of creeps me out a bit - but I am curious.

She is a devout Christian who may have inspired a fictional character.

(not saying this is bad, or good, or anything.)
posted by pinky at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2009


Given that Spector's in the same prison as Manson (see: Manson asks Phil Spector to collaborate in jail), that could be weird.

If by "weird" you mean "holy fucking shit yes, let's see this happen," I'm totally with you.
posted by the_bone at 5:58 PM on September 27, 2009


tzikeh may have not been referencing Kristin Chenowith's Evangelical Christianity, but her appearance on the 700 Club.
posted by soelo at 5:59 PM on September 27, 2009


Oh wait. I seriously, seriously would like to retract that last comment. I forgot about the Manson-Tate/Polanski angle for a second. Gahhhhhhhh. I'm not normally that insensitive, really.
posted by the_bone at 6:00 PM on September 27, 2009


I wonder how long until the obligatory prison-rape jokes (you know, about Polanski's cellmate) start circulating.

I was going to say something about how at least Polanski give his victim quaaludes, but thought better of it.

It really isn't very funny any more, generally.
posted by fatbird at 6:09 PM on September 27, 2009


So the arguments against imprisoning him are.

It was a long time ago and the victim has forgiven him.

As mentioned many times previously, this is the State of California vs. Polanski, not the victim. Also that entire rationale is somewhat disturbing. If you live in a country you must abide by the laws of the land. It's against the law to rape or even have sexual relations with a minor (romeo and juliet laws aside). He committed a crime and that DOESN'T just disapear no matter how much times passes or if the victim forgives him. While it's great that the victim can forgive him and was/is able to lead a happy life, it's not about her. It's about the thirteen year old girl that he raped back in what 1977.

The Judge was corrupt.

While I do see it's a problem in the justice system for it's agents and officers to misuse it, there are systems in place to address this. Fleeing the country is obviously not one of them. It sounds like he had a very strong case against the judge and could have brought it up during an appeal. Instead he fled the country.

He didn't know she was thirteen.

He plead during the trial that he did and looking at a photo when she was thirteen, well there's something wrong with you if you can't tell.

This is about revenge.

Semantics. It makes me feel happy when I learn that a child rapist goes to jail. Does this mean we shouldn't send child rapists to jail because it gives me pleasure?

That he hasn't had past sexual experience with minors before.

He has.

He's been through some fucked up shit.

Doesn't give you a get out of jail card.

I don't think it's constructive to call the people who are for not sentencing Polanski the Pro-Rape side, but the facts of the matter are that he plead guilty to statutory rape and then fled the country. Not really a role model in my book. Do I think there are a lot of laws in our country that need to be reformed? Of course, yet I still follow the laws I disagree with. But there is a marked difference between speeding or taking recreational drugs and raping a thirteen year old girl.

Maybe it wasn't even rape. Maybe it was consensual, but that's still illegal, and for a good reason in my mind. I mean I think what happened was pretty suspicious and I think the mother of the victim had kind of planned for something like this to happen, probably to try to get some settlement or some money from the media. But there is a real easy rule to follow here and it's the not having sex with little girls rule.
posted by Allan Gordon at 6:12 PM on September 27, 2009


MetaFilter: I'm not normally that insensitive, really.
posted by mazola at 6:19 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Part of its purpose is to give me a sense of justice being done.

translation - we must get revenge on that fucker

Revenge is a very base human emotion, not a good one, but one we as a society should rise above. It is not easy, especially when the evil is heinous. For instance Roman could not forgive the woman who eviscerated his pregnant wife. His victim, while not exactly forgiving him, has said enough. Why should we as a society still seek vengeance? In a perfect world we would honor this woman's wishes, not for Roman, but for her. Wanting to incarcerate him for something this evil despite her plea to be left alone is just blood lust. It's an understandable human emotion, but it won't make her better. She has spoken on what would make her feel better but many here could really care less. They are willing to victimize her all over again for their sense of "justice" and revenge. Their justice trumps her plea. It's pretty sad really. I actually thought much better of this place. It's OK to traumatize the victim again, even when she has specifically asked to just be left alone, because of some other people's moral outrage at the injustice of some evil guy going free. Nice.
posted by caddis at 6:27 PM on September 27, 2009


When did society ever become rising over our emotions?

Society is about giving our lives inside of it a certain amount of order, so that we are able to accomplish more.

It doesn't matter if the victim forgives him or wants him to burn, he committed a crime and confessed.

Are you saying that his confession to raping a 13 year old girl should go away because it brings enjoyment to us?

Should our justice system be solely in the hands of the victims of the crimes?

If someone killed a family member is it up to the family to figure out the punishment.

The whole point of the justice system is to remove human emotion from the process. Is it still there, of course, but as far removed from "revenge" as possible.

But that's all a moot point. Polanski has already confessed. Crimes you confess to don't go away just because the victim has decided to forgive you.
posted by Allan Gordon at 6:36 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The debate here is rather useless. Barring high level intervention by the Swiss authorities, he's going to get scooped up by the US and taken back to the States. The real issue here is how much time is he really going to be looking at? Are they going to slap additional charges for evasion? Will the fact that there originally was a plea bargain on the table get him some leniency? These seem much more useful things to talk about than all the shock and demagoguery going on in this thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:43 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Why should we as a society still seek vengeance?"

Because he rapes children.
posted by bardic at 6:44 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wonder how long until the obligatory prison-rape jokes (you know, about Polanski's cellmate) start circulating.

We were doing a pretty good job of avoiding such things in this thread until you decided to impress us by how offended you are at people who go there by going there.
posted by Cyrano at 6:57 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Caddis
Part of its purpose is to give me a sense of justice being done.
translation - we must get revenge on that fucker
Horseshit. That's not what I meant and you know that's not what I meant.

You keep trying to equate punishing criminals with vengeance, with base emotions that are about blood for blood. The only thing that disturbs me here is the idea that some people don't care that someone who committed a crime has been beyond the reach the law because he's rich and famous. You're shrugging your shoulders and saying "well, I guess he got away with it."

Do you have some alternative to punishing criminals for committing crimes? Please share it with us. When people commit crimes, what should we do?
posted by fatbird at 7:11 PM on September 27, 2009


Barring high level intervention by the Swiss authorities, he's going to get scooped up by the US and taken back to the States.

Apparently the French government is applying serious diplomatic pressure on Switzerland to release him. Whether, of course, the Swiss government takes any heed of this is another matter.

Also, how watertight is Switzerland's extradition treaty with the US? Are there any holes he could slip through?
posted by acb at 7:13 PM on September 27, 2009


Do you have some alternative to punishing criminals for committing crimes? Please share it with us. When people commit crimes, what should we do?

Maybe if we gave them a hug or a glass of warm milk and a cookie it'd make them less likely to reoffend.
posted by acb at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me put it another way, Caddis: Why should I care enough about Polanski and his circumstances to feel some strong emotion that he shouldn't be extradited to the U.S.? What factors here am I not considering that should make me wish him to go back to France and continue living as before?
posted by fatbird at 7:15 PM on September 27, 2009


Revenge is a very base human emotion, not a good one, but one we as a society should rise above.

You're right. How could I not see that punishing crimes makes us just as bad as the criminals. We should let Polanski go straight away. And then we should release Josef Fritzl. (After all, he did say he was sorry.)
posted by acb at 7:15 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Revenge is a very base human emotion, not a good one, but one we as a society should rise above.

Well, I say we have. Because we're calling for Polanski to be imprisoned, not gang-raped himself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


She's an evangelical Christian?

That's not what she said. She said she's a "non-judgmental, liberal Christian." That ain't evangelical.

/Chenowith derail
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:37 PM on September 27, 2009


Two things help me understand why Samantha Geimer is conflicted regarding punishing Polanski for the crime commited aginst her. First she would have to come to grips with her mother's culpability in the whole thing. She downplays it in this transcript from the Larry King Show a few years ago, but I was a teenage girl in the seventies and currently have teenage daughters and there is no way in hell Samantha's mom could not have understood the risks involved allowing her daughter to go off for the day with people who were well known at the time to live in the fast lane, at the very least.

CALLER: I just wanted to ask a quick question of Samantha. Why didn't your mother go along when you went to Jack Nicholson's house with Roman Polanski as the responsible parent, since you were a minor? And also, does she have any regrets at this point in time feeling that she may have been able to prevent this whole incident from taking place?

KING: Good question. Your mother lives with you now?

GEIMER: My mother is -- I mean, she gets the worst rap. Everybody wants to lay it all on her. And Polanski said he didn't want her to go. He thought it would make me uncomfortable.

KING: But she could have said, I insist on it.

GEIMER: There didn't seem to be any reason for her to go. I mean, he was just taking pictures, and nobody had any idea anything like this would ever happen. And I mean, she's never gotten over it. She feels terrible.


Second, when asked she she does say that there was a civil suit involving a financial settlemet, the details of which she can't disclose. In other words the waters are as muddied as they can get in this case. (By this I mean it's difficult to make any assumptions about why the victim is so willing to forgive and forget -while at the same time being in People Magazine and appearing on TV to talk about het victimization.)

CALLER: Yes, hello.

Hi, Sam. I have two questions for you. One is how has this changed the direction of your life? I mean, this happened to you as a very young girl. So what did this create in your life and on to the present as a mother?

And the second question is have you received any remuneration for all this chaos that has created in your life?

GEIMER: Well, it changed the direction of my life because I wanted to be an actress and I just felt that was impossible after this occurred.

This would overshadow anything I ever did as far as, you know, the entertainment industry. Plus I got a distaste for the industry, getting a quick lesson on what a tough business it is.

And what was the second question? I'm sorry. KING: Getting money.

GEIMER: We -- there was a civil suit but that's confidential and I'm not allowed to talk about it.

KING: Oh, it was settled? So there was a settlement, right Lawrence?

SILVER: There was a settlement. This was long after the flight.


Yes, Polanski is a creep. The script was written by Robert Towne but the words ring true for RP himself,

"Noah Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of ANYTHING. "
posted by readery at 7:42 PM on September 27, 2009


Well I was confused about my thoughts on this when I first started reading this thread, and now I'm confused about them on entirely different grounds.

I have no trouble at all separating art from the artist. Hell, I can enjoy Triumph of Will and Birth of a Nation for their skill and the ways that each essentially created the documentary and narrative film, respectively, while scoffing at how inherently deplorable their viewpoints on their subject matter are. I love Chinatown. I love Rosemary's Baby. Neither of those things mitigate the facts of the case at hand (though I must agree with kyrademon above - there can be mitigating factors for anything, and understanding that doesn't at all equate with not taking the offense seriously. Quite the opposite, I think, really, if you're going to look at all facts of a situation before putting it into a perhaps-not-so-organic legal rubric, that is taking it more seriously.)

It looks like he raped her, from what we know, which is a lot. It also looks like the girl he raped doesn't want it pursued anymore. Even as a (kinda-sorta) public defender, I have to say that neither can matter here. If I don't want complainant's determinations on what, to them, would equal justice in terms of harsher sentencing, I can't play that card when it means lesser sentencing either. The case is on behalf of the people of California, via the prosecutor, who as far as I can tell acted commendably (and the defense served honorably as well). The judge fucked this up, and it all would have been a lot cleaner to have dealt with that through the official channels in the U.S. court system than to have fled - not justice, but corrupt sentencing - the way that he did.

caddis is generally right about the four possible rationale's for punishment, but he's striking a wrong chord here, I think, with a lot of people when he negates the possibility of "enforcement of the social contract." That's a powerful objective, especially when we're dealing with something like raping a young girl - and here it is clear to me that he did what he did because he thought he could get away with it because of the position he held. He has little of my sympathy there - but the problem is that, in enforcing that social contract, our primary, to the point of being really our only, method is that of revenge. It is very easy for us to say, "You raped a 13-year old, and justice must be served," because in a sense, that is correct, but t is wrong to ignore the manner by which that justice is served, and in the U.S., our ways of criminal justice don't benefit anyone anywhere (except for prison contractors.)

I hate hate hate what Polanski did, and I truly believe that he would do it again if it were possible for him to do so and he thought he'd have any chance of getting away with it. In fact, I'm willing to bet that he slept with a lot more teenage girls in France (though of course I have no proof of that at all, just a guess based on everything he'd been doing before) which would actually give rise to him being prosecuted on those counts in the U.S if he were still a U.S. citizen. If I continue as a Public Defender upon graduation (which I'd like to do) I still have to face myself and wonder how I can defend accused rapists. It's my sticking point. It's not that I believe that everyone accused of rape is guilty and thus somehow unworthy of defense, but because my job would then include cross-examining rape-survivors, which is not something I'm sure I have the stomach for.

Along that vein:

The line above about how Geither "thinks" she knows what she wants is awful. She's a 44-year-old woman who has had to live with the events of this case very publicly for the past 30 years, knows what happened and it's effects upon her better than anyone, was extremely brave in testifying in the first place, and deserves the same respect as anyone else in determining her own wishes. They may not have legal validity, but "what she thinks she wants" implies that if you could just talk to this woman you'd tell her why she's wrong. She's thought about this much more than you have, and knows a hell of a lot more about it as well.

I'd also call issue to the claim here that celebrities get better legal treatment than a poor nobody would in these situations. Justice favors the rich, no doubt, but think of things like this - if a poor nobody were caught shoplifting from Saks, or speeding in violation of a DUI probation, or selling their shares in a friend's stock when he advised them to, these cases would either be no=papered or easily pled down to nothing by a Public Defender without nearly the time or resources that a private criminal defense attorney has. In the cases of Winona Ryder, Paris Hilton, and Martha Stuart, though, the cases got a lot of press because of the perpetrators which meant a lot of pressure on the prosecutors not to "embarrass" the office.

We can talk all day about what this means for justice, or how this evens the playing field to make sure that people aren't excused for crimes simply because they are rich, and many more elements, but certainly press-based departmental embarrassment on the part of the prosecutors isn't an essential element of "justice." If justice gives two shits about how the prosecutor or her boss feels at the end of a trial than it is even more meaningless than it transparently is already.

All of this is to say that I'm fine with Polanski serving time for a crime he has already admitted to committing, even though that time won't benefit anyone, anywhere, for any reason. He made his own bed. But there is a lot of nuance here not about his act, but about gross malfeasance on the part of the judge who wanted the good press of putting him away apart from the guidelines of the crime he had pled guilty to, and on the other side the fact that he's been a public fugitive for 30 years, all of which is too complicated to deal with on a Metafilter thread.

But he raped a child, and that has to mean something and he can't just simply walk away from that...

And I'm just as confused as before.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:03 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Maybe if we gave them a hug or a glass of warm milk and a cookie it'd make them less likely to reoffend.

you have to give them warm fuzzies until they feel schmoopy - maybe some kittens, too
posted by pyramid termite at 8:09 PM on September 27, 2009


I wrote "Geither" obviously meaning "Geimer." I'm sorry.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:09 PM on September 27, 2009


I really, really don't understand the many people in this thread coming up with reasons this man shouldn't be punished. I don't at all. He was convicted of a crime which comes with a punishment, therefore justice is best served by punishing him.

That terrible things have happened in his life is entirely irrelevant. Do you really think he is the first person convicted of a crime who has had terrible things happen to him? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. I know someone who did a very bad thing and went to prison for 15 years for it (served, not sentenced), and his life was full of misery. When he was a child, he and his friend were very poor, and one of the few things they had around to play with was an old fridge. What child wouldn't improvise in that situation? When his friend got stuck in the fridge, this person I know was not strong enough to open it, and still remembers the screaming and scratching sounds as his friend tried to get out of the fridge. His friend died that day. Nevertheless, even he, this person I know, agrees that he deserved to be punished for his terrible crime.

That Roman Polanski is very wealthy and was therefore able to flee the country to more friendly waters for 30 years is also entirely irrelevant. Why does being rich make him less deserving of punishment? Being rich is really all it is. Rich people can afford attorneys to confuse matters, and advise them about extradition. Rich people can afford to move to a new country when this one wishes to punish them for a crime. Let us recall that Roman Polanski himself said he committed the crime. Anyone without his means would have been sentenced and probably would be out of prison by now. If Polanski isn't forced to serve his time, it sends the message to other celebrities and other wealthy people that with enough money, they too are above the law. Surely that is not the society we want.

If you read Polanski's victim's words, you'll note that she mostly seems to want to live her life. Since she was victimized by a celebrity, when he is in the press, she is in the press. Who wouldn't want the entire thing to go away? And yet, in the United States, crimes are not prosecuted for the benefit of the victim. Crimes are prosecuted for the benefit of society at large. Roman Polanski has slept with two underage girls that we know of, but who knows how many more there are? What basis do we have to assume that he didn't keep doing the same thing while in France? He had escaped sentencing in the US, so what reason would he have to stop? I'm not accusing him of doing this, to be clear, but I am pointing out that since he has never been punished, we really don't have reason to believe he would have stopped. It is well known that sex crimes are often under-reported. Why can't Roman Polanski have committed some of these unreported sex crimes? Because he's rich? Because he's an artist? I simply don't see it.

I'm sorry, but I really just don't understand this. If Roman Polanksi were anyone else, I don't think we'd be having this argument.
posted by !Jim at 8:20 PM on September 27, 2009


I personally am way more fascinated/horrified by the fact that someone who survived the effing Holocaust and the brutal murder of his wife and unborn child would choose to commit a crime that violates another person's body and dignity the way rape does.

Well, when you put it like that, how could there be any possible damage to a person's ability to think clearly and well as a result of surviving atrocity?

(Is this where I put the sarcasm tag?)

Really, that this topic is in question is bizarre.

1) There are no shortage of artists or other notables who are horrible people as well as great achievers in various fields. It is hardly uncommon for this to cause individuals and society as a whole problems. Ezra Pound. Henry Ford. Lindbugh. TS Eliot. It's a long list.

2) When someone says, as an adult, that the pursuit of the case does her more damage than the original rape, it's probably worth thinking hard about the pursuit of the case.

Certainly, as regards the latter, "how rape victims deal with rape and how society should react to that" is hardly a cut-and-dried exercise.

hey man sorry that the rape of a 13 year-old girl is hard to discuss from the pro-rape side without getting some flak but there you have it :(

Mmm, that's some quality shitposting right there.

he lesser charge of statutory rape (which I think we can all agree is not-rape, though we can argue about what it is).

Well, see, if a 16 year old has sex with a 15 year old then I'm happy to agree that the notion of "statutory rape = rape" is pretty laughable. There's a bit of a difference between that at a 13 year old and a forty something, which seems to me like exactly the sort of power imbalance that statutory rape laws are designed to prevent. Especially when said 13 year old is in the position to be raped because her mother put here there to advance her career. Seriously, that's practically a textbook example of why we have those particular laws in most Western nations, right there.

On the other hand, it appears that a number of people in this thread actually believe that there are mitigating factors for rape, i.e. circumstances under which a rapist should go free. I suppose that for the purposes of having a discussion, this reaches a base, moral level and isn't something that can be argued, but I'll just say that this second point of view is deeply disturbing to me.

So you think that the insanity defence should never apply to rape?

"Lesser charge." "Lesser crime." "Statutory rape is not rape."

I personally cannot believe what is being implied by these comments. The only sense in which statutory rape is a "lesser charge" is that it may not carry the same penalty in the eyes of the law as actual rape.


So you see literally no difference in, say, drugging and raping someone and a 16 and 15 year old having consensual sex?

While I do see it's a problem in the justice system for it's agents and officers to misuse it, there are systems in place to address this. Fleeing the country is obviously not one of them.

Are you aware you live in a country where a supreme court justice has opined that mere innocence is no reason to overturn an execution?
posted by rodgerd at 8:30 PM on September 27, 2009


Assuming for the sake of argument there were legitimate issues with the prosecution or the judge that mitigate RP's flight: It would be important to me if RP had attempted to negotiate with US authorities from France, asking for an agreement re sentencing, and agreeing to return to serve his time. I have not heard that he ever did that.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:40 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: All of this is to say that I'm fine with Polanski serving time for a crime he has already admitted to committing, even though that time won't benefit anyone, anywhere, for any reason.

Once again my mind is blown. Do you do not see the benefit of enforcing the law for the sake of enforcing the law? What is this alternative you suggest - throwing people in jail only when there is a tangible benefit? That's the dilemma you've come up with in your head? What the hell do you mean by "benefit"? How do you determine this benefit? What if the imprisonment of an individual benefits one person or group of people but not another? How do you decide whose benefit is more beneficial? What about short-term versus long-term benefits? How can you even begin to go down this road with even a shred of intellectual honesty?

The fact of the matter is that a lawful society has an enormous, vested interest - whether this is based in economics, politics or religion - in preserving and enforcing the law. This interest in preserving the law precludes the possibility of enforcing it only when it is "deemed beneficial." The consequences imposed by society on criminals are connected to the act of crime - and not to any purported benefits caused by the imposition the consequence. End of story.
posted by phaedon at 8:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


If Roman Polanksi were anyone else, I don't think we'd be having this argument.

If it were anyone else but Roman Polanksi, I don't think we'd be having this discussion.

FTFY

And seriously, if Roman Polanski's fame means we're taking a hard look at a situation that we would usually ignore (unless personally involved), that's not necessarily a bad thing. And here I'm not talking about the rape, I'm talking about the complexity of the legal system and how imperfect it is. My guess is that if it wasn't Mr. Polanski, the outcome would've been different in all kinds of ways, foremost among them:

1. if the rapist couldn't afford a top lawyer, he'd have been found guilty, jailed and would have released long ago (or he might've been killed in prison)

2. if the rapist was rich and NOT famous his lawyer might have gotten him off with some kind of sweetheart deal (suspended sentence etc) as the judge likely wouldn't have made such a starstruck mess of things.
posted by philip-random at 8:50 PM on September 27, 2009


"even though that time won't benefit anyone, anywhere, for any reason"

We put people in jail for our own personal betterment, as opposed to the greater social good of people realizing they will suffer for committing heinous crimes like child rape? I'm genuinely curious as to where you're getting your law degree.
posted by bardic at 8:54 PM on September 27, 2009


I read that phrase so many times in this thread that I'm completely immured to it.
I think you are inured. Immured is what Polanski should be.
posted by tellurian at 8:57 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pretending this is still about due process isn't really fooling anybody, people. This is about revenge. I think the man has definitely earned a little vengeance, but don't call it by other names to make you feel better about your emotions.
posted by tehloki at 9:02 PM on September 27, 2009


But due process has already happened. He already confessed.

All that is left is to sentence him.

Oh and running away to france for 30 years is kind of illegal.
posted by Allan Gordon at 9:03 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The line above about how Geither "thinks" she knows what she wants is awful. She's thought about this much more than you have, and knows a hell of a lot more about it as well.

Have you read all of my posts on this thread, Navelgazer? I don't think we're actually in disagreement about the respect that the victim in this case deserves, but if that's still not apparent, I'm obviously failing miserably in my communication skills today and just need to pack it in.
posted by cowpattybingo at 9:06 PM on September 27, 2009


Pretending this is still about due process isn't really fooling anybody, people.

? The man entered a guilty plea to a felony sex crime and fled the country prior to sentencing. He's no different than any other felon who has been been a fugitive for decades. This brings to mind the case of Ira Einhorn (who also fled to France).
posted by MikeMc at 9:20 PM on September 27, 2009


I generally believe that of the big four reasons for criminal punishment - the retribution/deterrence/rehabilitation/isolation thing - retribution is basically never justified. However, contempt for and subversion of the system itself really seems like a situation where it absolutely is. Whether or not Polanski should be punished for the rape - which I think he probably should - he absolutely needs to be brought to justice for fleeing jurisdiction to a non-extraditing country for 30 years. It doesn't matter how messed up the first trial was, you do not skip out before sentencing. You appeal it. His refusal to operate by the rules that our culture is built on, thinking himself above them due to his fame and his wealth, is something that needs to be punished.
posted by kafziel at 9:24 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Revenge would be family members of the victim cutting off his genitals. Baseball bats. Drowning. A man receiving his court-appointed sentence for a horrific crime is not revenge. What perverse Puritanism to insist that justice cannot be pleasing to witnesses.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:27 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pretending this is still about due process isn't really fooling anybody, people. This is about revenge. I think the man has definitely earned a little vengeance, but don't call it by other names to make you feel better about your emotions.

What is it with you people who can't view the desire of those who want to see him go to jail as anything but a thirst for blood? Is it so inconceivable that someone might simple want the wheels of justice to turn the way they're supposed to?
posted by fatbird at 9:28 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


tehloki: "Pretending this is still about due process isn't really fooling anybody, people. This is about revenge. I think the man has definitely earned a little vengeance, but don't call it by other names to make you feel better about your emotions."

You're not a mind reader.

I think there is a significant element of deterrence in this case. We want to deter criminals from fleeing the country in the hope of escaping justice. In a publicized case like this, the value of carrying out his punishment is magnified by the number of people who will see his punishment carried out.
posted by kathrineg at 9:35 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


2) When someone says, as an adult, that the pursuit of the case does her more damage than the original rape, it's probably worth thinking hard about the pursuit of the case.


"The case" has already been adjudicated, had Polanski stuck around and honored his end of the plea agreement this all would have been over decades ago - for everyone. The blame for any continuing trauma lies at the feet of Roman Polanski. He and he alone has caused this to drag out for 30 years, he could have returned and settled this matter for good at any time but chose not to.
posted by MikeMc at 9:39 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


had Polanski stuck around and honored his end of the plea agreement this all would have been over decades ago - for everyone

MikeMc, you seem to have missed the part where the *prosecuting* attorney has come out and said that the judge's conduct was so appalling "I'm not surprised that [Polanski] left the country under those circumstances."

That's the *prosecutor* in the original case talking. There's a brief summary in the Roger Ebert review linked above.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 PM on September 27, 2009


Pretending this is still about due process isn't really fooling anybody, people. This is about revenge. I think the man has definitely earned a little vengeance, but don't call it by other names to make you feel better about your emotions.

This is exactly not the case. I personally DON'T believe that the justice system should exist to mete out vengeance, and am disappointed that you (and many others) do. The justice system DOES exist to bring people to justice, and if Roman Polanski is sentenced and sent to jail, it will be doing exactly that.
posted by !Jim at 9:54 PM on September 27, 2009


Polanski's arrest could be his path to freedom
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:55 PM on September 27, 2009


If Roman Polanksi were anyone else, I don't think we'd be having this argument.

If it were anyone else but Roman Polanksi, I don't think we'd be having this discussion.

FTFY
Normally I find the FTFY thing super annoying, but in this case, that is more or less exactly what I meant to say, please excuse the horrible typo and lack of proof-reading.
posted by !Jim at 9:59 PM on September 27, 2009


Is it so inconceivable that someone might simple want the wheels of justice to turn the way they're supposed to?

Isn't that just begging the question, though? (Well, maybe that's not the proper name for it. But something like that.) Why are the wheels designed to turn that way, if not for retribution? Someone has caused harm, therefore they must also suffer. That's revenge, isn't it?

Now, mind you, I definitely think Polanski should go to jail. And not just for retribution; I think the deterrence factor is worthwhile here, too. But "justice" is retribution. (Or "punishment", "retaliation", "revenge", "penance", whatever.) No point trying to cover that up.
posted by equalpants at 9:59 PM on September 27, 2009


re: separating the art/artist

History's full of ugly people who created beautiful things, but it's not just artists, it's shopkeepers, middle-managers, street sweepers, software programmers. The thing to consider is that the "artist" is likely also people you know. These people can be redeemed. It's not about avoiding their art, it's about remembering that there's a limit to the revenge we can and should exact, and why that limit exists.
posted by saysthis at 9:59 PM on September 27, 2009


MikeMc, you seem to have missed the part where the *prosecuting* attorney has come out and said that the judge's conduct was so appalling "I'm not surprised that [Polanski] left the country under those circumstances."

Way to take things out of context.

It could easily be said that he wasn't surprised, because he could see that Polanski was afraid of going to jail or a hundred other reasons.

But honestly you're the one who just seems to be trolling this thread. All you do is bring up strawmen and never address the fact that Polanski confessed to the crime and then fled the country.
posted by Allan Gordon at 10:08 PM on September 27, 2009


MikeMc, you seem to have missed the part where the *prosecuting* attorney has come out and said that the judge's conduct was so appalling "I'm not surprised that [Polanski] left the country under those circumstances."

Despite the prosecutor's lack of surprise at Polanski fleeing the country there are still facts to be considered:

1. Polanski drugged and sodomized a thirteen year old girl, he has not denied this.
2. Polanski entered a gulity plea to a felony.
3. Polanski fled the country prior to sentencing.
4. The prosecutor's personal opinion does not carry the weight of law.
5. The appellate process exists to address things like judicial misconduct.

Seeing as Polanski fled the country there's no way of knowing what would have happened had he appeared in court, it's all speculation.
posted by MikeMc at 10:09 PM on September 27, 2009


According to the link I just posted, there's a good chance as this story unfolds that the case will eventually be dismissed and RP will not see any jail time whatsoever. At least some analysts seem to think so.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:12 PM on September 27, 2009


Isn't that just begging the question, though? (Well, maybe that's not the proper name for it. But something like that.) Why are the wheels designed to turn that way, if not for retribution? Someone has caused harm, therefore they must also suffer. That's revenge, isn't it?

You're conflating the mechanism of justice (punishment for wrongdoing) with the motive of those who support it. Caddis and Tehloki have quite directly said that all we (who think he should be extradited and jailed) want is a pound of flesh, that all we want is for Polanski to suffer. This is to impugn our arguments by suggesting that we're being disingenuous, sounding high and mighty about justice when all we really want is a spectacle of suffering.

Whether or not the mechanism of the justice system is retribution (and it's not, at least exclusively), it's the justice system: It's not mob rule or lynching parties where our most base motives are slaked; it's a formal, procedurally driven means of ordering our society, of minimizing crime and keeping ourselves safe. Over the centuries we've continually sought to improve it to make it more fair and safe for both the innocent and the guilty, and over the centuries I'd say we have. As civilized creatures we've committed to this model of justice, and I've seen no one here fundamentally challenge the model. We have an investment in it, and if for no other reason, Polanski should be extradited and jailed because not to do so is to undermine the model for no good reason.
posted by fatbird at 10:18 PM on September 27, 2009


Is anyone here seriously advocating that those who commit crimes should only be punished if they are likely to commit the same crime again in the future? We imprison people for the crimes they've committed, not the ones they're going to commit.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 10:19 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Something I don't understand in all this: Why is France shielding Polanski? Did they have objections to the plea deal? Do they refuse to extradite French citizens on principle?
posted by fatbird at 10:36 PM on September 27, 2009


They left NATO on principle. Just France being France.
posted by Allan Gordon at 10:45 PM on September 27, 2009


Why is France shielding Polanski?

I think it has more to do with the fact that France doesn't extradite its own citizens per its own laws.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just asked someone who is in a position to know the law in this case. What he said is that the Statute of Limitations only applies if charges haven't been filed. In this case charges were filed within the statutory period. Polanski pled guilty, and then left the country before he could be sentenced. He's been a fugitive ever since.

Under the law he is considered to be a convicted felon. As long as he is alive and not in custody, he is subject to arrest. If he is shipped here by the Swiss, then he will face sentencing for the crimes to which he pled guilty.

That's what I was told.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:56 PM on September 27, 2009


It's not mob rule or lynching parties where our most base motives are slaked; it's a formal, procedurally driven means of ordering our society, of minimizing crime and keeping ourselves safe.

I agree with you completely that our justice system is fundamentally pretty well-founded (even though the actual mapping of crimes to punishments is seriously out of whack right now in some areas--drugs, etc.), and balances the different motives pretty well. But I think it's a little unfair to downplay the mob rule aspect as much as you do. The system is both a means of creating order and safety and a spectacle of suffering. OJ, To Catch a Predator, Cops, America's Most Wanted--those pound-of-flesh feelings are out there. In addition to public safety, etc., the justice system is, in part, an institutionalization of those feelings. I agree that there's value in not letting Polanski undermine the model--it's a good model--but let's be honest about why the model demands that he suffer. The model demands retribution because we the people think that retribution is right and proper, and in this particular case, some people's reactions (not everyone) are indeed primarily driven by that motive.
posted by equalpants at 11:21 PM on September 27, 2009


We pressed charges, and he pleaded guilty. A plea bargain was agreed to by his lawyer, my lawyer and the district attorney, and it was approved by the judge. But to our amazement, at the last minute the judge went back on his word and refused to honor the deal.

Worried that he was going to have to spend 50 years in prison -- rather than just time already served -- Mr. Polanski fled the country. He's never been back, and I haven't seen him or spoken to him since.



From the victim, in the LA Times. Sorry if someone posted this already; I haven't read this whole thing.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:24 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um. Judges don't have to honor a plea agreement. You're pleading guilty, and the state can inform the judge that you've made a deal and recommend a sentence, but that is not by any means binding on the judge. There's absolutely nothing improper about a judge deciding that the plea agreement was too generous, and imposing a higher sentence, and it doesn't mean you can take back your plea.
posted by kafziel at 11:26 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually in many jurisdictions the plea itself is contingent upon the judge accepting the plea agreeement and if the judge refuses then the option is a full trial with the state being responsible for proving guilt. It's basically pretty unfair to defendants to have a system wherein they make a plea that is fixed and then they have to hope the judge accepts it. There are many reasons for making a plea and many innocent people plea, and many people with strong cases plea given the mix of risk and reward. In the criminal justice system nearly all cases are handled with pleas.
posted by caddis at 12:13 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


History's full of ugly people who created beautiful things, but it's not just artists, it's shopkeepers, middle-managers, street sweepers, software programmers. The thing to consider is that the "artist" is likely also people you know. These people can be redeemed. It's not about avoiding their art, it's about remembering that there's a limit to the revenge we can and should exact, and why that limit exists.

This isn't really at issue, though. There's definitely a good argument that society should limit how far it punishes even the worst crimes (I'd quibble with your focus on "revenge"). But nobody can seriously believe that we're anywhere near that limit in Polanski's case. He's been unable to travel to America or Britain for the last few decades. That's it. That's not adequate punishment for his crime.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's done something flagrantly illegal: skipped the country before sentencing. That's a pretty serious crime which needs to be deterred. That's one point.

The other point: how many 13-year-old potential starlets are watching this and asking themselves "Dare I say anything?"?

And how many A- to C-list directors, casting agents, actors, rappers, pop stars, and modeling agents are watching the 13-year-olds?

This was a parade long overdue some rain.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:55 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a pity that condemning the French government's amoral behaviour on the world stage is forever poisoned by association with the freedom-fries Right.
posted by acb at 2:15 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


For what is worth, when I first heard the news, my views were very similar to those expressed by Caddis in the very first post in this thread. I am actually rather ashamed to admit that now. But thanks to well reasoned arguments by many others, I am now firmly of the view that the legal process should proceed and he should face the consequences of his actions. The reaction of France, that views of his victim, the length of time since the crime and his artistic contribution, are not of sufficient weight to overturn, or prevent, the judicial processes at work here.

Thank you Metafilter - for the nth time I consider the $5 joining fee the best investment I ever made.
posted by vac2003 at 2:55 AM on September 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


A number of people seem to want to dwell on the fact that Polanski admitted to having sex (from his point of view) with Geimer, as if his admission as part of a plea bargain was somehow further evidence of his depraved character. I would have thought that a denial would be more of an indictment, but it seems that perhaps if he had denied it all and the case had collapsed he would be better off for it. After all it was just her word against his. How that might have affected Geimer one can only speculate.

I think the comparison with Specter is interesting, as Specter comes across as being a whole order of magnitude more unhealthy and dangerous to (his own) children than Polanski. But Specter never admitted anything and it took the death of Lana Clarkson in his own home for him to finally be locked up as the menace to society that he is.

Both men possibly exhibit the patriarchal sense of entitlement that pervades society.

I am also left conflicted as to what would be best for society regarding RP's treatment by the American justice system at this point.

Also of interest is the political aspect of Swiss/US relations alluded to in the unwittingly published AP transcript in mediareport's post above.
posted by asok at 4:26 AM on September 28, 2009


A number of people seem to want to dwell on the fact that Polanski admitted to having sex (from his point of view) with Geimer, as if his admission as part of a plea bargain was somehow further evidence of his depraved character. I would have thought that a denial would be more of an indictment, but it seems that perhaps if he had denied it all and the case had collapsed he would be better off for it. After all it was just her word against his.
Well, I don't understand this attitude that denying it would have been more of an indictment than admitting it, unless you're already presuming that he did it. But in any case:

He did deny it. He pled innocent to all six charges.

Then the cops found her panties, stained with spots, in his apartment.

Then the panties were cut in two, with half given to the prosecution, and half to the defense, making sure to get parts of the spots in both halves.

Then the defense sent their half of the panties to a crime lab.

Then the defense got the results of the crime lab's analysis back.

Then he admitted he had sex with her.
posted by Flunkie at 4:46 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are you aware you live in a country where a supreme court justice has opined that mere innocence is no reason to overturn an execution?

Would you care to explain why any highest court ought to reconsider the facts of a case?
posted by oaf at 4:56 AM on September 28, 2009


Wrinkled Stumpskin: He's done something flagrantly illegal: skipped the country before sentencing. That's a pretty serious crime which needs to be deterred. That's one point.

The other point: how many 13-year-old potential starlets are watching this and asking themselves "Dare I say anything?"?

And how many A- to C-list directors, casting agents, actors, rappers, pop stars, and modeling agents are watching the 13-year-olds?

This was a parade long overdue some rain.


Look, this thread is long, and things have been hashed and rehashed a bunch of times here, but some salient points:

(1) I still don't know where I stand on this issue - I don't think I like Polanski much, and I think this was certainly a case of rape - but it's very, very clear that this is not simply a case about child rape; it's also a case that's very much about the systematic, thorough and wholehearted perversion of the justice system by a particular judge. That means it's not clear-cut. The judge in this case repeatedly twisted facts, fed information to various sides, and bent whole trials, not only in Polanski's case but in dozens of documented verdicts, to serve his own vanity and thirst for press coverage. I believe Roman Polanski should face whatever punishment is his due, but that wouldn't cover the crimes here - because Roman Polanski is not the only criminal in this case.

(2) It can be persuasively argued - as indeed the victim herself has argued - that Roman Polanski has already served his time as it was agreed during his trial, and that his punishment has already been meted out. The fact is that the victim, her mother, their lawyer, and even the judge in the case all discussed this with Roman Polanski and his lawyer and agreed that they would like to see him sentenced to time served and released; he was clearly in a pretty fucked up mental state, he'd lost his wife some years before to the Manson family murders (ech) and the crime he had committed had clearly become its own punishment for the man, who was facing horrified public opinion and his own very deep-seated feelings of pathos, fear, anxiety, and self-loathing. No, criminals shouldn't run free just because they're unhappy; but it was clear in this case that sending him to prison actually wasn't going to punish him any more than he was already punished, and was a needless measure. The only reason that Polanski wasn't granted that universally-agreed-upon plea bargain was because the judge in the case, again a merciless media whore, contravened standard procedure (probably breaking several laws in the process) and suddenly declared to great effect in front of all the cameras that he wanted to see Roman Polanski behind bars.

Look, I hate Roman Polanski with all my heart, and if I ever meet the man I imagine I'll probably spit in his face; he's committed rape and as such he's earned my undying contempt. But more important than my contempt is my respect for the legal system; and seeing Polanski jailed would contradict whole sections of what I see as essential to the legal system as we know it. As strange as it may sound to those who haven't thought about it, the man must go free specifically in order to protect the system that protects our society. It's easy to look at one case and think that punishing a criminal is an all-important and never-ending task; it takes a careful eye to notice that one criminal - Judge Rittenband - has never been punished for his own crimes.
posted by koeselitz at 5:07 AM on September 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


Again, briefly:

Roman Polanski served his time. He finished his sentence as it was required by law. And this asshole, this fucking filth of a human being - by which I mean Judge Rittenband - should have been strung up by his heels and fried while he was still alive to enjoy it. No matter how you feel about Polanski, it's pretty clear that Rittenband is a villain.
posted by koeselitz at 5:12 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flunkie: Then the panties were cut in two, with half given to the prosecution, and half to the defense, making sure to get parts of the spots in both halves.

By the way, this is just one example of what a theatrical monkey-trial that judge was running. Splitting them in half? And giving half to each side? That sounds mighty dramatic, and it plays well for the reporters (which is what the judge intended, of course) but it's mind-numbingly idiotic as far as forensics go; what it there are stains unseen at first glance? What if there's more evidence than meets the eye? It's just so completely fucking stupid to destroy evidence before you can examine it in a silly display of 'fairness'.

Has no one ever heard of third-party labs? Of neutral expert witnesses?

That trial was a mess, a complete mess. I wouldn't rely on the transcript as a trustworthy source of evidence, either.
posted by koeselitz at 5:17 AM on September 28, 2009


Roman Polanski served his time. He finished his sentence as it was required by law.
Roman Polanski never even received a sentence. He served 42 days for psychiatric evaluation as part of pre-sentencing. This was less than half of the ninety days that he was to serve for psychiatric evaluation as part of pre-sentencing.
No matter how you feel about Polanski, it's pretty clear that Rittenband is a villain.
No matter how you feel about Rittenband, the claim that Roman Polanski finished his sentence as it was required by law -- and in fact even the claim that Roman Polanski was sentenced -- is false.
posted by Flunkie at 5:19 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


kafziel: Um. Judges don't have to honor a plea agreement. You're pleading guilty, and the state can inform the judge that you've made a deal and recommend a sentence, but that is not by any means binding on the judge. There's absolutely nothing improper about a judge deciding that the plea agreement was too generous, and imposing a higher sentence, and it doesn't mean you can take back your plea.

The conflict of interest and perversion of justice doesn't come from the simple fact of the withdrawal of a plea agreement - which is admittedly extremely rare but not in itself unprecedented or unethical. It comes from the fact that the judge was receiving secret briefs from the prosecution throughout the trial. It comes from the fact that the judge made many private comments to many third parties to the effect that he found all of this delightful because it was making him famous. It comes from the fact that he granted numerous interviews during the trial - which frankly in itself is almost crossing the ethics line. Most of all, it comes from the fact that the victim and her family themselves were disgusted and disheartened when they learned that this judge, who had bragged privately that he could keep this thing going indefinitely if he wanted to and earn eternal fame with the Hollywood reporters just by pulling a stunt like withdrawing a plea agreement, planned to lock up Polanski against their own wishes - the fact that he chose to perpetuate their suffering and their harassment by the press merely in order to further his own fame.

That disgusts and sickens me.
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we can look at justice in two ways: there is more abstract social justice and there is concrete or practical justice - reparation to the victim. It seems as though Polanski's victim is satisfied with the outcome in the practical sense. She apparently believes that between being found guilty and whatever settlement he made, his debt to her, personally, has been paid. She and her family didn't advocate for more than time-served at the time of his trial, and she continues to feel that this is sufficient. For the actual victim in this case, justice would be to settle this quickly, without a prison term for him, and allow her to get back to her life... once again.

The social justice aspect is a lot less tidy. One way to look at it is that Polanski, the defense, the prosecution, the victim and her family - and, initially, the judge, were all willing to abide by the conditions of the plea bargain, and that would have been time-served for the lesser charge of "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor." If the judge had not threatened to renege on this agreement, Polanski wouldn't have fled, the case would have been settled, the victim would have been allowed to retreat from the glare of publicity, and for most intents and purposes, justice would have "been served." By today's standards, however, allowing a famous, rich and influential person to escape all but the lightest punishment for a serious crime (especially raping a minor) is far less acceptable. The fact that Polanski could afford to make whatever financial restitution to the victim's family was necessary to convince them not to pursue a more punitive sentence would not be overlooked, and the state would be far less likely to agree to the same plea bargain.

So what would serve true justice in this case? Allowing the terms of the original plea bargain to be carried out, plus additional charges for fleeing sentencing? Or a sentence more in line with what could be expected if the rapist were not rich and famous, more in line with the more serious charges that would have actually been brought against him in today's climate? I really don't know, personally.
posted by taz at 5:24 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flunkie: No matter how you feel about Rittenband, the claim that Roman Polanski finished his sentence as it was required by law -- and in fact even the claim that Roman Polanski was sentenced -- is false.

The difference is that Polanski - a foreign national who left and never came back, who we really don't have to worry about being on our streets - had his guilt endlessly debated, while Rittenband - a judge who served out the rest of his career with distinction and was granted all the glory and honor a really good judge would deserve - was never once questioned about his wrongdoing.

Who did society the greater harm? Clearly Rittenband.

Moreover, Judge Rittenband promised the victim and her family that he would deliver a particular sentence. Yes, Polanski was never sentenced, but this was merely a technicality at that point, and the judge in question had perverted justice to such a degree that it's hard to see him delivering the proper verdict anyhow. Verdict or not, it is not debatable that Judge Rittenband broke the law and, as such, Polanski is owed another trial.

I'm glad he'll finally get one. Now maybe we can put this to rest.
posted by koeselitz at 5:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


taz: By today's standards, however, allowing a famous, rich and influential person to escape all but the lightest punishment for a serious crime (especially raping a minor) is far less acceptable. The fact that Polanski could afford to make whatever financial restitution to the victim's family was necessary to convince them not to pursue a more punitive sentence would not be overlooked, and the state would be far less likely to agree to the same plea bargain.

I'm convinced this has nothing to do with it. The fact that Polanski's act was an isolated act, the fact that he had undergone psychiatric treatment for it, and the fact that his psychiatrists all agreed that he was extremely unlikely to re-offend (and indeed he has never done this again so far as we know - and we would probably hear about it if he had) all contributed to the family's decision, and frankly I think it's a little insulting to imply that they made their decision based on money.
posted by koeselitz at 5:31 AM on September 28, 2009


taz: She apparently believes that between being found guilty and whatever settlement he made, his debt to her, personally, has been paid.

As far as I know, no settlement was ever made. I don't know how it could have been; as Flunkie points out above, sentencing never occurred.

Moreover, I think the important central theme of her argument, which you don't mention, is this: she is convinced that he will not repeat his crime, and that he isn't a danger to society. I agree with her. That doesn't make Polanski anything more than scum, and it doesn't take away what he did, but it does mean that the chief practical purpose of jail time is not really applicable in this case.
posted by koeselitz at 5:41 AM on September 28, 2009


Sorry, I didn't mean to insult the family at all! There was an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount, according to Samantha Geimer. I'm glad about this. Her future was interrupted; she wanted to be an actress or a model, but felt (rightly so, I think), that this would have been impossible to pursue with any dignity after these events. Her life was interrupted; she couldn't continue going to school because of the publicity, she suffered a lot of emotional trauma, and I think it's safe to guess that her life would have followed a different direction if it weren't for the assault and the media storm that followed. I'm glad that she was eventually able to lead as much of a normal, happy life as she could under the circumstances, and I hope that she got enough money to at least partly make up for all that was stolen from her. I definitely wasn't suggesting that her and her family were "in it for the money." I absolutely do not believe that.
posted by taz at 5:52 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


she and her family
posted by taz at 5:54 AM on September 28, 2009


Thanks oaf, that is interesting. RP ever the gentleman!

The UBS thing looks like it is all cut and dried, so the question remains why the Swiss government have decided to do this now considering RP has a house in Switzerland and summered there this year. It is interesting timing.
posted by asok at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2009


Well Rittenband died in 1994. What was the reason for Polanski staying away after that?
posted by mazola at 6:30 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Way to take things out of context.

It could easily be said that he wasn't surprised, because he could see that Polanski was afraid of going to jail or a hundred other reasons.


The quote from the prosecutor was not taken out of context. The context, which you can find in Ebert's review, among many other places, is clear: The prosecutor is saying that the judge's behavior was appalling, and that given the unpredictability and self-serving nature of that behavior from the sitting judge, he is not surprised that Polanski chose to run.

Really. There's no mistaking what he said. And you have a very bizarre definition of trolling.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 AM on September 28, 2009


Actually, he stepped down in 1989 and died in 1994. From the NY Times obit:
He presided over the case of Mr. Polanski, the film director who fled to France in 1978 rather than appear for sentencing after he had been convicted of having unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

Despite his vow to sit on the bench until Mr. Polanski returned, Judge Rittenband stepped down in 1989, saying, "I can't wait that long." But he added, "I'll quote a Gilbert and Sullivan opera: 'I've got him on my list.' "
If he's running from one crazy judge, how does that explain the 1994-2009 period?
posted by mazola at 6:46 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Moreover, I think the important central theme of her argument, which you don't mention, is this: she is convinced that he will not repeat his crime, and that he isn't a danger to society. I agree with her.
posted by koeselitz at 5:41 AM on September 28


if you think polanski hasn't been fucking teenage girls for the last thirty years take one step forward

not so fast koeselitz
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2009


[?]
posted by koeselitz at 6:55 AM on September 28, 2009


Of course, one of the things that's always struck me about this case is just how easy it would almost certainly be for Roman Polanski to turn American public opinion toward his favor - or at least how easy it would have been: a real, heartfelt public apology, or at least some kind of statement, would have been preferable to all, I think. But that probably would have meant submitting to extradition, which I still believe would've been preferable for Polanski to go through.

What's more, were I Polanski's lawyer, I would have fought at least a little harder for an appeal, even after it became clear that Polanski was going to leave the country. That's what the legal system dictates should have happened; and if it had, a judge (hopefully an honest one) would have gotten the chance to rule on the shenanigans that happened at the first trial.
posted by koeselitz at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2009


Above I posted part of an interview with Larry King the victim did a few years ago, in conjunction with the academy award nomination for "The Pianist" where she states that there was a civil suit that was settled and she can not comment further.

Between that and having to face her mother's culpability (in my opinion). She claims that her mother could never have forseen the possible outcome of her being photographed by Polanski. There's a mean little part of me that thinks it is a mom acting as a pimp.
posted by readery at 7:28 AM on September 28, 2009


Are you aware you live in a country where a supreme court justice has opined that mere innocence is no reason to overturn an execution?

I feel about defending Scalia only slightly weirder than I might feel about defending Polanski (which I'm not, as I think rapists and fugitives from justice should be punished). That being said, Scalia didn't say "mere innocence". He said:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.
The reason is that our system of appeals courts is based on error correction, and not on re-trying cases at each level. This is common to virtually all court systems based on Anglo-American law, including New Zealand's. If an actually innocent person was convicted, you could probably show some error in the process. Regardless, it's a great reason to not have any executions.

/derail
posted by norm at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I'm derailing, I will add the additional clarification that a) 'court systems based on English law' as opposed to Anglo-American, which is a bit confusing; and b) Scalia's often quoted, or mis-quoted comment, came in a 7-2 dissent, so not exactly a powerful statement of controlling law. Anyway.
posted by norm at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this "all about revenge"? Well, I have two little girls, and while I *could* say it's all about protecting the rule of law or whatever, for me a lot of my desire to see Polanski locked up is about revenge. Get in the cell, Humbert.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2009


Verdict or not, it is not debatable that Judge Rittenband broke the law and, as such, Polanski is owed another trial.

It's a shame that Rittenband fled the country before Polanski could legally appeal and bring the villian down. Such injustice.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:15 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the problem people have with him is he ran. He served no time, no punishment, no fine, nothing. He ran like a guilty rabbit and nothing ever happened to him. Then you have these people supporting him and saying "forget he committed a crime, he's a genius." I don't know, you can be a genius but you still should owe up to what you did.

Genius yet still a coward and a criminal. He should come back and serve his sentence and get it over with. He could have done this a long time ago. Hell, if he did it in a timely manner, he probably would have gotten off (it was the 70s. Not the decade for victims' rights).
posted by stormpooper at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wanting to incarcerate him for something this evil despite her plea to be left alone is just blood lust.

Says you. Why are you so convinced this can't be about deterrence?

Surely we, as a society, would like to deter 1) raping young girls, and 2) fleeing from sentencing. How are those not valid, non-revenge reasons to want Polanski to at least serve out his plea deal? What goal of the criminal justice system is served by letting someone avoid punishment for their crime by fleeing for a really, really long time?

MikeMc, you seem to have missed the part where the *prosecuting* attorney has come out and said that the judge's conduct was so appalling "I'm not surprised that [Polanski] left the country under those circumstances."

And my response to this now is, so what? The judge hasn't had anything to do with this case for 20 years. Polanski has been in absolutely no danger of the hypothetical harm this judge may have wrought for 20 years. Why should he be absolved of a) complying with his plea agreement, and b) being prosecuted for fleeing (at least for the past 20 years, when whatever justification there may have once been for fleeing has ceased to exist)?

I'm mystified by his defenders, and I've read the whole thread.
posted by Mavri at 9:01 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, see, if a 16 year old has sex with a 15 year old then I'm happy to agree that the notion of "statutory rape = rape" is pretty laughable. There's a bit of a difference between that at a 13 year old and a forty something, which seems to me like exactly the sort of power imbalance that statutory rape laws are designed to prevent. Especially when said 13 year old is in the position to be raped because her mother put here there to advance her career. Seriously, that's practically a textbook example of why we have those particular laws in most Western nations, right there.

There are also situations in which a 15-year old can willingly have sex with a 30 year old, without coercion or intimidation. We may think that there is something wrong with the 30 year old in that he or she seem to prefer immature 15 year olds to sexy mature 30 year olds - but the 15 year old may still decide to do so for their own reasons and have not been victimized or consider themselves to have been offended against. I don't know about 13 - I've never been in that situation, and it's very hard for most adults to wrap their minds around the thinking of children and young adolescents, because our own memories are faulty. Though it is a short time, there is a lot of growing up that happens between 13 and 15. But even then there are, as brought up earlier in the thread, 13 or even 12 year olds who do seek out adults and have consensual sex with them. Maybe they do so because they have themselves problems (familial or mental) - but that should be a matter for social services, not the law. I would support statutory rape/unlawful (but consensual) sex with a minor laws if they all had strong Romeo-Juliet provisions to exclude consensual sex under between people who are close in age, and if they were applied with care to prosecute specifically those adults who themselves conciously sought out young teenagers to prey on them for sex, rather than those in murkier situations. But the law is a very blunt instrument, and very bad at dealing with situations like these that often have much greyness to them.

And again, this is a moot point in this case, in that the original charges were not unlawful sex with a minor, but rape; the charge was a plea bargain.

On a completely different point: I didn't read any evidence that Geimer's mother put her in that position for her mother's career; Geimer has been clear in saying that she modelled to promote her own acting career because she wanted to be an actress and thought modelling would help. You could say that her mother was naive, but anyone could have their trust in another person so abused. A lot of parents leave their children alone with teachers, volunteers, babysitters and yes, directors - and the vast majority are fine because the vast majority of adults are not a threat. Geimer herself is upset at what was said about both her and her mother, rightfully so.
posted by jb at 9:17 AM on September 28, 2009


If he's running from one crazy judge, how does that explain the 1994-2009 period?

Umm, contempt for the American legal system? After being deliberately screwed around a by one judge, why is he to assume the next one would be any better? Seriously.

There's also the question of what has he done with those 15 years? He's continued with his art, winning an Academy Award in the process, which is not an entirely bad thing. That is, creating important cinematic work that stands the test of time. Who cares about the award?

The point has been raised, how do we separate the Art from the Artist? My response: in many cases, a man (or woman's) art is the very best thing the world will ever get from them; why would you NOT want to get this? An outright denunciation of an individual based on one (or a few) transgressions reads to me as an immature and simplistic reading of human nature. If Polanski's case speaks to anything, it's that we must figure out how to embrace paradox if we truly hope to make any sense of how the world really works.
posted by philip-random at 9:43 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The point has been raised, how do we separate the Art from the Artist? My response: in many cases, a man (or woman's) art is the very best thing the world will ever get from them; why would you NOT want to get this? An outright denunciation of an individual based on one (or a few) transgressions reads to me as an immature and simplistic reading of human nature. If Polanski's case speaks to anything, it's that we must figure out how to embrace paradox if we truly hope to make any sense of how the world really works.

True. Let him have both his lifetime achievement award and (effective) life sentence.

He was a great filmmaker. However, it is grotesque to suggest that that should increase his permissible rape quota from the standard value of 0. And, unless we say exactly that, the fact that the world will be deprived of future Polanski films while he serves his sentence is an unavoidable tragedy.
posted by acb at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2009


Roman Polanski has refused to be extradited from Switzerland to the United States over a 1977 underage sex case, the filmmaker's lawyer said on Monday.

Still afraid of the dead judge, I assume.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wanting to incarcerate him for something this evil despite her plea to be left alone is just blood lust.

It's also about making laws mean something. But anyway.
posted by xmutex at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2009


Oh Roman P.
Are you free?
Are you really free?
Are you really really really really free?

Not so much anymore, I guess.
posted by malocchio at 10:25 AM on September 28, 2009


Wanting to incarcerate him for something this evil despite her plea to be left alone is just blood lust.

How exactly should one parse this sentence? Would it be more acceptable to want to incarcerate him for something less evil? Does the word "evil" refer to Polanski's deeds or the wicked judge's machinations, or is it just syntactic seasoning added for emphasis? It seems not so much like a coherent argument as an outburst of confused emotion.
posted by acb at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2009


From another site:

So he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Societally speaking in the U.S., that’s no big deal for the Rich & Famous. In Republican circles, that’s known as “I made a mistake. I’ve spoken with my wife and minister about it. Now I look forward to getting back to the business of serving my constituents.” Shit, if he was a Republican senator, they’d be standing up a “Re-Elect Roman Polanski PAC” as we speak.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


futureisunwritten, she went to the premier of the documentary. She's hardly in the wilting flower camp. Seriously, read a couple of reviews I linked on the doc's official site. The misconduct by the judge is pretty blatant. At the very least I think you have to consider that element to the story.

mediareport, I had a look at the reviews of the documentary and yes, I agree that the judge's gross misconduct makes this a very complicated and bizarre situation. As for the victim attending the premiere, it seems to me that she has come to terms with this and just wants to move on without this incident further dominating her life, but what is actually going on inside her head is anybody's guess.

All of this aside, Roman Polanski pled guilty and fled to France prior to his sentencing. I still stand by my assertion that if Mr. Polanski had remained in the States and took his punishment, this whole situation would have been resolved (and forgotten) decades ago. Not to mention the fact that Judge Rittenband has been dead for sixteen frickin' years.

A young girl was raped and the person responsible should serve their time for the crime. The passage of 30+ years shouldn't change that.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also from another site:

"I hosed a minor up the rear end and all I got were these lousy lifetime achievement awards"
posted by mazola at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very few, if any, of the people who have publicly defended Polanski, or who have worked with him, make it their business to champion or associate themselves with admitted child rapists. They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men – directors, writers, actors, comedians, singers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, photographers – who have been known to sexually assault women and/or children: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there's only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

posted by Joe Beese at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


because if he gets off, swarms of short, middle aged pervs with funny accents, pockets bulging with vintage sedatives and air france tickets will be buzzing around our junior highs and skating rinks safe in the knowledge they can act with impunity against the flower of america's youth.
posted by leonard horner at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also from the Guardian: " 'It's obviously not a straightforward case,' says [Thierry] Frémaux [director of the Cannes Film Festival]. 'To look again at this now you'd almost need to put the 1970s on trial.' "

Exactly. For better or worse, apart from issues of justice and retribution and the unique situations of the personalities of Roman Polanski and Laurence Rittenband, that's partly what this arrest is doing. And what this thread is doing, as well.

Frémaux again: "No, we're not denouncing America here -- the American justice system must take its course, no one disputes that. No one is saying Roman is above the law, no one's saying that because he's rich and famous and a brilliant cineaste he shouldn't face justice. We're denouncing the form -– the fact that he was arrested on his way to an international festival."

I doubt that many people are going to be persuaded that the French Ministry of Culture is merely denouncing the form of Polanski's detention. Frémaux's statement is disingenuous, to put it mildly.
posted by blucevalo at 11:46 AM on September 28, 2009


There's more editorializing here from a poster of a thread than I've seen in a good long time.
posted by oaf at 11:51 AM on September 28, 2009


There are also situations in which a 15-year old can willingly have sex with a 30 year old, without coercion or intimidation.

Doesn't matter. The law (and common sense, I think), is that a 15 year old (or 12 year old) doesn't have the judgement to sleep with her dad's best friend. That's the whole point of these laws. If she's not willing, it's rape no matter how old she is.

I would support statutory rape/unlawful (but consensual) sex with a minor laws if they all had strong Romeo-Juliet provisions to exclude consensual sex under between people who are close in age

Most states in the U.S. do; the permissible age difference is usually 3, 4 or 5 years. Sometimes it's straight out legal, sometimes it's an affirmative defense (meaning judge has discretion), sometimes it makes it a misdemeanor instead of a felonly.
posted by msalt at 12:27 PM on September 28, 2009


Frémaux again: "No, we're not denouncing America here -- the American justice system must take its course, no one disputes that. No one is saying Roman is above the law, no one's saying that because he's rich and famous and a brilliant cineaste he shouldn't face justice. We're denouncing the form -– the fact that he was arrested on his way to an international festival."
Won't somebody think of the real victim here -- the Zurich Film Festival?

Anyone?
posted by mazola at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did the Zurich Film Festival want this? No.

It's just a young film festival -- started in 2005 -- hardly of age.

I'm sure they just wanted to further their stature in the industry and thought working with Roman Polanski was a means to achieve this.

Then for such a young innocent film festival to be used to satisfy the premeditated, unspoken agenda of something decades older than itself -- well that's just sick!

The French are rightfully OUTRAGED!
posted by mazola at 1:02 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The point has been raised, how do we separate the Art from the Artist? My response: in many cases, a man (or woman's) art is the very best thing the world will ever get from them; why would you NOT want to get this? An outright denunciation of an individual based on one (or a few) transgressions reads to me as an immature and simplistic reading of human nature.

Obviously, the next time we find a MAJOR ARTISTE whose a rapist, child molestor, or otherwise a sex offender, the government and society in general should find women and/or children to feed their appetites. Because womenand children are a dime a dozen, and in response, the ARTIST may produce GREAT ART (tm). Great art justifies anything.


I mean people, people, think of what you're saying here: if we jail Polanski just for raping a girl, we'll have to go and jail EVERY rich and famous guy who rapes someone. And we don't want that, right? We don't want to prosecute that poor, misunderstood persecuted Andrew Luster, do we? I mean look at it: the reasons we shouldn't prosecute Polanski are the same reasons for not prosecuting Luster: the man is rich, accomplished, and in Luster's case, handsome. Did I mention that he's really rich? Prosecuting him just because he drugged and raped some- obviously not nearly as rich or accomplished- women, is just revenge. Especially since he spent several years in Mexico. It was so long ago, let's get over it, so the potential of Andrew can be released!

Come on people, let's see the hands for freeing Andrew Luster! Letting Polanski go will give this poor, misunderstood youth hope!
posted by happyroach at 1:23 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to keep telling myself that the French are only exercised about this out of a natural uneasiness at the prospect of one of their citizens being extradited to a nation that tortures. Because if I thought they were doing this out of respect for Polanski as an artist or their minimizing of a truly heinous crime, I would have to find something to hit.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:25 PM on September 28, 2009


Obviously, the next time we find a MAJOR ARTISTE

Brilliant cineaste. That's "Brilliant cineaste"!
posted by blucevalo at 1:40 PM on September 28, 2009


The law (and common sense, I think), is that a 15 year old (or 12 year old) doesn't have the judgement to sleep with her dad's best friend.

In approx. one third of Europe the age of consent is 15 (one third it's 14, one third it's 16, plus a handful of outliers at 13 and 17/18; and yes, that usually does even include dad's best friend), so your common sense is rather American.

Doesn't matter in this obvious rape case (he should have been in deep dodo for that over here too, except for the big name and the 1970s thing maybe) but as an European that 'common' bothered me for some reason.

Won't somebody think of the real victim here -- the Zurich Film Festival?

Yeah. That's totally going to help. Idiots. I'm kind of amazed that his lawyers haven't told his 'fans' to shut the fuck up already. Instead they seem to cheer them on. Strange tactic. But then IANAL.

I have to keep telling myself that the French are only exercised about this out of a natural uneasiness at the prospect of one of their citizens being extradited to a nation that tortures...

Ha. I' was actually wondering if they might try that as a defenese, when it goes through all the courts. If it works, then we can blame it all on Bush once again.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 1:43 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, I'll admit to being American. I think a 14 year old is not mature enough to decide to have sex with a 50 year old, who may be powerful, rich, famous and intimidating.

On what basis do you think he or she is mature enough? The simple fact of puberty? It sounds like the same rule as "No hair, no fair", read backwards.

If being a college teaching assistant or volunteer coach makes a relationship with a student illegal (sexual harassment) due to the power imbalance, why is 30 years of age difference less imbalanced?
posted by msalt at 1:51 PM on September 28, 2009


ZeroAmbition: "In approx. one third of Europe the age of consent is 15 (one third it's 14, one third it's 16, plus a handful of outliers at 13 and 17/18; and yes, that usually does even include dad's best friend), so your common sense is rather American.."

And what's the sophisticated European take on the girl's grand jury testimony?

He goes, “Would you want me to go in through your back?” And I went, “No”. … Then he lifted up my legs farther and he went in through my anus. … He put his penis in my butt.

They call this something different on the continent? Because in the hidebound puritanical precincts that Polanski had chosen to live in at the time, we call it anal rape.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:08 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's more editorializing here from a poster of a thread than I've seen in a good long time.

Doesn't editorlialising refer to the FPP? I don't think the poster should be excluded from the discussion, and would hope that they have an opinion on the topic (but appreciate that they keep their side out of the FPP to encourage discussion and debate). So, I would disagree with you. In fact I think it was the first comment that largely (though not completely) determined what direction this thread would go. And, I've found this to be a very interesting and challenging debate that has made me have to really consider my thoughts on this. So, no, I totally disagree with your observation.

Saying forget about it, it happened a long time ago, is a bit like saying he didn't rape you for a long time so don't worry about it. Rape is rape. A rapist is a rapist. No distance in time or space can change that. Yet, he was able to live and continue, with support, a successful high profile career. He wasn't just forgiven, he was given a life time achievement award.
posted by Elmore at 2:10 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


They call this something different on the continent? Because in the hidebound puritanical precincts that Polanski had chosen to live in at the time, we call it anal rape.

ZeroAmbition calls it rape, too, in case you'd not noticed.
posted by blucevalo at 2:11 PM on September 28, 2009


blucevalo: "ZeroAmbition calls it rape, too, in case you'd not noticed."

I hadn't. But if he acknowledges that it was rape, then what difference does it make how the age of consent in California compares with the ones in Europe?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:41 PM on September 28, 2009


Give him a rest world. What he did was wrong, but it was so long ago who cares? I think even the victim has requested that he be left alone.

Dude got a 13-year old wasted on quaaludes and booze and then had sex with her. He then skipped out on bail and fled to a state without extradition to the US when his plea deal went south. The state has a powerful interest in preventing this behavior amongst its citizens.

Perhaps the charges regarding the rape should be dropped, given the feelings of the victim, although personally, I believe the state's interest outweighs her interest. But he must face a court first before being let off. No matter what, attempting to escape justice requires punishment Polanski needs to rot in jail, no matter how good his films are.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:50 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


In approx. one third of Europe the age of consent is 15 (one third it's 14, one third it's 16, plus a handful of outliers at 13 and 17/18; and yes, that usually does even include dad's best friend), so your common sense is rather American.

Common sense has nothing to do with it. It is the law. I don't care what you think the right number is--it is irrelevant. The law barred him doing what he is alleged to have done. It also barred him from fleeing justice. He needs to be punished.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2009


Maybe everyone should take a deep breath and read ZeroAmbition's comment again.
posted by kathrineg at 2:57 PM on September 28, 2009


Again, briefly:

Roman Polanski served his time. He finished his sentence as it was required by law. And this asshole, this fucking filth of a human being - by which I mean Judge Rittenband - should have been strung up by his heels and fried while he was still alive to enjoy it. No matter how you feel about Polanski, it's pretty clear that Rittenband is a villain.


Polanski fled the country before being sentenced. He is therefore guilty of several crimes. "The judge did something wrong" is never a defense to fleeing the country. If you feel the judge has done something wrong, then you appeal. Polanski is not above the law, no matter how you feel about Rittenband.

More importantly, you know nothing of the trial or the proceedings. You were not there. A mere journalistic report is insufficient to base a knowlegable opinion upon in regards to a court case.

Polanski needs to serve time for violating California law, no matter what the judge did. He does not get to take any decision regarding the judge's behavior into his own hands. Otherwise, our system of justice would not function at all.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:02 PM on September 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Jon Beese: I hadn't. But if he she acknowledges that it was rape,... then what difference does it make how the age of consent in California compares with the ones in Europe?

None. I was just being prissy about the 'common sense' thing in msalt's comment (when he was talking about statutory rape). It was a derail. Sorry about that.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 3:15 PM on September 28, 2009


There's no ambiguity here. He pled guilty, then evaded sentencing. The law is the law and I don't see any mitigating circumstances here. I'm firmly convinced that this conversation wouldn't happen if he wasn't famous.
posted by agregoli at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gerald Posner:

Given the passage of time, and his many supporters, including even the victim herself, it’s hard to imagine that Polanski will end up in prison. His defense attorney, Steve Corn, said on Sunday that “there’s a good chance his case will be dismissed or the sentence will be commuted to time served.”

If so, then any time Polanski spends in jail fighting extradition will be the only prison time he's going to do. Ironic, eh?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:31 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


In approx. one third of Europe the age of consent is 15 (one third it's 14, one third it's 16, plus a handful of outliers at 13 and 17/18; and yes, that usually does even include dad's best friend), so your common sense is rather American.

I have to say that the whole age-of-consent thing is one of the very, very few areas where I actually think Europeans are less progressive than Americans, due in large part to how the feminist movements developed in each country. Issues around consent and bodily integrity have been, and continue to be, some of the biggest issues that American feminists think about, write about, and organize around. (In a way that I actually find acutely frustrating sometimes.) In Europe you really see more a focus on economic issues and the social construction of motherhood, and much less focus on bodily integrity issues like rape, abortion, rights of pregnant women, etc.

While age-of-consent is a somewhat controversial concept in terms of where you draw the line, I think enough feminist thought on power differentials and the problematic nature of consent have jumped into the mainstream that most people in the U.S. think there is something fundamentally wrong with a 40 year old having sex with a 14 or 15 year old, and that sort of thing should be illegal. That's not driven by puritanism: it's a result of people like Catherine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin being major figures in American feminism that have pushed public sensibilities in that direction. My impression is that your average French person might not agree, and that might be part of the reason why you see the French gov't trying to intercede on his behalf with no apparent outroar.

I'm not trying to start an argument about which way is "right", I just think it's an interesting social phenomenon that others might find useful in understanding potential reasons why this is playing out like it is.
posted by iminurmefi at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Agreed with iminurmefi, except it's not only coming from feminist theorists. They deserve a lot of credit for raising the issue, but I think life experience is what ultimately convinced most people I know in the US. Ditto bosses sleeping with employees.

I've been both the younger person and the older person in relationships (15 and 10 years respectively). There just is a power difference, however extraordinary the individuals are. And if the younger person is under 15? They have no way to gauge or manage that gulf, and are vulnerable in dozens of important ways.
posted by msalt at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2009


If he raped a 13 year old boy, would it be different? Catholic clergy who sexually molested young males were held accountable after many years. If he knifed someone, or stole a lot of money, would that be different? If he wasn't a celebrity, would that matter?

It always seemed to me that the child was allowed to spend time with an adult male in quite sketchy circumstances. But Roman Polanski gave drugs and alcohol to a minor and then committed what was at least statutory rape, and likely forcible rape. He left the country, and at some point, paid off the victim. How is it okay?

The 43-year old man didn't know she was 13? Yeah, that's a meaningful defense(<-sarcasm)
He's a good director. and a criminal
It was a long time ago. When he ran, the clock stopped.
The victim is okay now. I'm genuinely happy for her, but he is still a criminal.
posted by theora55 at 7:48 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"shame on France and the other countries who shielded him."

My understanding is this is the law in France. I'm reminded of this oft quoted exchange:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Whether France should have extradition laws; especially with a country that condones torture; is I'm sure a debate with all sorts of nuances that seem lacking from this flat out declaration.

"Is anyone here seriously advocating that those who commit crimes should only be punished if they are likely to commit the same crime again in the future? We imprison people for the crimes they've committed, not the ones they're going to commit."

Words like "likelihood to reoffend" come up in many if not most sentencing and parole hearings.

"The law (and common sense, I think), is that a 15 year old (or 12 year old) doesn't have the judgement to sleep with her dad's best friend. That's the whole point of these laws. If she's not willing, it's rape no matter how old she is."

Interestingly even in the US this isn't common sense. While age of consent is 18 in many states you can be married much younger than 18.

I'm not as optimistic as iminurmefi. The high age of consent coupled with lower age of marriage mean that it's another way for the puritian crowd to control the sexual urges of others. "Want to have sex at 16? No problem you just need to get married first". Missisippi you need to be 17 if male but only 15 if female to get married but you also need parental consent until you are 21. However parents in Missisippi can waive the minimum age requirements. In New Hampshire 13 year old females and 14 year old males can be married. Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma allow pregnant teens or teens who have already had a child to get married without parental consent.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I remember hearing a CBC radio interview of a woman author. When she was a child a family member pushed her on a famous painter. The painter had a well known "affinity" for little girls, so the family member figured it might be possible to swing some free artwork. The woman author said that she wasn't the only little girl used in this way.

There's also this account from MeFi's own nickyskye (not sure if it's the same artist).
posted by Deathalicious at 8:26 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I agree that some of the laws you mention are messed up, that's really a different situation. Outside of fundamentalist Mormon circles, and Mary Kay Letourneau, I'm not aware of a significant problem with predatory marriages of teenagers. (And those laws you cite relate to teen couples, anyway; they're usually exempted from statutory rape laws.)

There is a big problem with older men preying on young women, though. Half of all babies born to minor women are fathered by adult men. (cite) And seventy-four percent of women who had intercourse before age 14 and 60% of those who had sex before age 15 report having had a forced sexual experience. (cite)
posted by msalt at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does the warrant include a charge for fleeing the country? If not, would it be too late to charge him for that?
posted by Danila at 10:56 PM on September 28, 2009


The 43-year old man didn't know she was 13? Yeah, that's a meaningful defense(<>
It's not a defense that Polanski made. He testified that he understood her to be thirteen years old.
posted by Flunkie at 5:35 AM on September 29, 2009


"shame on France and the other countries who shielded him."
My understanding is this is the law in France. I'm reminded of this oft quoted exchange:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
This is not really relevant to this particular situation.

As I understand it, it's not "the law" in France that people don't get extradited. Rather, the extradition treaty between France and the United States says that France can opt to not extradite its citizens to the United States.

France opted not to extradite Polanski; it was perfectly within its rights to do so. It was, however, also perfectly within its rights to extradite him.
Whether France should have extradition laws; especially with a country that condones torture; is I'm sure a debate with all sorts of nuances that seem lacking from this flat out declaration.
Right, because Jimmy Carter was torturing Iraqis left and right, as we all know.
posted by Flunkie at 5:40 AM on September 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whether France should have extradition laws; especially with a country that condones torture;

What Flunkie said. Should we stop cooperating with France because it's officials sent Jews off to the gas chambers? (under the Vichy regime in WW2)
posted by msalt at 6:42 AM on September 29, 2009


This is exactly what I was talking about. Whether to extradite is complicated. A blanket statement that France and every other country he passed through should be ashamed of itself for not immediately putting him on a plane to California is misguided.

It's not hard to see how this would have played out in France: Fairly successful French Jew who escaped the Holocaust; whose wife and child was killed by some psycho makes plea deal with American authorities for a crime that, let's be honest, like drunk driving didn't have nearly the stigma that it does now. The sentencing Judge then makes press saying he's going to throw out the sentencing terms of the agreement (which was timed served yes?) and instead put the guilty party in gaol; possibly for something closer to the maximum sentence of several decades instead of the common sentence of 16 months to 3 years. It's not hard to see why French authorities wouldn't be panicking to get Mr Polanski on a plane to the US.

Imagine Ted Kennedy's little adventure had happened in Dover instead of Chappaquiddick (and yes I know the crimes really aren't parallel). British authorities arrest and try Mr. Kennedy (for charges including vehicular manslaughter) and he pleads guilty to drunk driving and fleeing the scene of an accident in exchange for sentencing of timed served. He then gets wind that the judge is instead going to sentence him to 15 years. Being the playboy kind of guy he was he flees to the States where he successfully avoids extradition until he makes the mistake of going to Canada for some well publicized fly fishing in 2004. Britain hears about it and gives Canada a call and Mr. Harper being the law and order type he is ships Kennedy to London. Should the US and every country that had shielded him for decades have been ashamed for themselves?
posted by Mitheral at 7:49 AM on September 29, 2009


The 43-year old man didn't know she was 13? Yeah, that's a meaningful defense(<>

Actually, it isn't an allowable defense at all, if my memory of 1L serves me right. You are charged with affirmatively knowing the age.

posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 AM on September 29, 2009


So it ultimately comes down to the lofty moral sentiment of "we look out for our own". Whether "we" means France or the film industry (which seems to be united in solidarity calling emotively for the charges to be dismissed).
posted by acb at 8:34 AM on September 29, 2009


This is exactly what I was talking about.
It doesn't seem to me to be remotely similar to what you were talking about. You were talking about the need to apply the law equally to all; you were talking about the United States torturing people.
The sentencing Judge then makes press saying he's going to throw out the sentencing terms of the agreement (which was timed served yes?) and instead put the guilty party in gaol; possibly for something closer to the maximum sentence of several decades instead of the common sentence of 16 months to 3 years.
Where did you get this information from? It's not what the movie portrayed.

The movie said that:

(1) Polanski pled innocent to all six charges;

(2) The cops found the victim's semen-stained panties in Polanski's suite;

(3) Polanski struck a plea bargain, pleading guilty to one of the six charges. The guilty plea was accepted by the court.

Note that, to this point, the movie does not to my knowledge allege any judicial wrongdoing; Polanski already pled guilty (after the victim's semen-stained panties were found in his suite) before any allegation of judicial misbehavior, as far as I know.

(4) As part of the pre-sentencing period, the judge sent him to psychiatrists to determine whether he was a "mentally disturbed sex offender", or some specific term like that, with some specific legal meaning.

(5) The psychiatrists said, in their opinion, no.

(6) Continuing in pre-sentencing, the judge called the prosecuting and defense attorneys into his chambers, and told them that the prosecutor should argue for incarceration, and the defense should argue for probation, and that he would then send Polanski to jail for a ninety day psychiatric evaluation (which is apparently a standard, legal thing in pre-sentencing).

This was the first allegation of judicial misbehavior that I'm aware of (the judge telling the lawyers what to argue, not the judge sending him to jail for evaluation (which, again, was completely legal)).

(7) The attorneys did so.

(8) The judge sent Polanski to jail for a ninety day psychiatric evaluation.

(9) Polanski was released after 42 days. It was not uncommon for a person to be released before the full 90 days, but it was apparently unheard of for a person to be released after only 42 days.

(10) The judge calls the lawyers back into his chambers, indicates that he's pissed that Polanski got out after only 42 days, and tells them that if Polanski will waive his deportation rights, then the judge will sentence him -- actually sentence him -- to 48 days in jail, followed by probation, to "make up" for the missing 48 days from the psych evaluation.

(11) The defense attorney gives this offer to Polanski.

(12) Polanski immediately flees the country.

So, again, I would like to know where you got your information from. Where did you learn that the judge "made press" saying what he was going to do?

Where did you learn that the sentencing terms of the agreement were "time served"? The defense attorney said something like "we were in the judge's hands with respect to the sentencing". Also (though I easily could be wrong) I don't think that a judge must abide by the prosecutor's recommended sentence in a plea bargain.

Where did you learn that the judge said he was going to put Polanski in jail for several decades?

Where did you learn that this was "instead of the common sentence of 16 months to 3 years"? As far as I know, the judge said 48 days.

None of these things that you said match up with what was presented in the movie, as far as I can tell. I'm not saying that you're wrong; I'm asking you where you got this information.
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 AM on September 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


Victim: Courts did more harm than Polanski
posted by homunculus at 10:02 AM on September 29, 2009


From homunculus' link:
It should have ended three decades ago, when Polanski pleaded guilty to a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He would have been given credit for time served while undergoing an evaluation and placed on probation.

But Polanski fled the country before sentencing, fearing the judge would back out of the plea bargain and sentence him to prison.
and
Every time the case resurfaces her wounds reopen.
Essentially saying that if Polanski wouldn't have ran perhaps she wouldn't have been so wounded so often by the courts.
posted by mazola at 10:08 AM on September 29, 2009


It should have ended three decades ago, when Polanski pleaded guilty to a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He would have been given credit for time served while undergoing an evaluation and placed on probation.

But Polanski fled the country before sentencing, fearing the judge would back out of the plea bargain and sentence him to prison.
I don't think the implications of that are entirely accurate, either. As I understand it, the judge was saying that he would sentence Polanski to prison. For 48 days.

Perhaps the judge's offer was actually "90 days with credit for the 42 days of time served for psychiatric evaluation", and that was certainly the intent if not actually the wording, so maybe "time served" is accurate.

But the implication that Polanski was afraid that the judge would back out and sentence him to prison is incorrect. The judge was saying he would sentence him to prison. For 48 days.

Also, just to be explicit: When Polanski agreed to the plea bargain, he had not served any time, as far as I know. Maybe a night in county lockup or something.

So (from Mitheral's last post) "The sentencing Judge then makes press saying he's going to throw out the sentencing terms of the agreement (which was timed served yes?)" makes even less sense to me than might be apparent from my earlier response.
posted by Flunkie at 10:32 AM on September 29, 2009


And to be clear:

The movie did imply that Polanski fled because he didn't trust the judge. The defense lawyer said that, after he transmitted the judge's offer of 48 days in jail in return for waiving extradition rights to Polanski, Polanski asked him if they could trust the judge; the lawyer responded that he didn't think they could. Polanski then immediately went to Dino De Laurentiis' office, was given a one way ticket that was waiting there for him, and left the country.

So "fearing the judge would back out" is (I imagine) true, but not "fearing the judge would back out and sentence him to jail". More "fearing the judge would back out and sentence him to more than 48 days in jail".
posted by Flunkie at 10:41 AM on September 29, 2009


That contempt was not only directed at Mr. Polanski, but at the French class of celebrities — nicknamed Les People — who are part of Mr. Polanski’s rarified Parisian world. Letter writers to Le Point scorned Les People as the “crypto-intelligentsia of our country” who deliver “eloquent phrases that defy common sense.”

Still, many others continued to rally to the Oscar-winning director’s defense.

Film industry leaders like Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese and Costa Gavras signed a petition with about 100 names that expressed “stupefaction” with the arrest of Mr. Polanski at the Zurich airport. But support was not universal; Luc Besson, a prominent French film director and producer, was not on the list, though he describes himself as a Polanski friend.

“This is a man who I love a lot and know a little bit,” Mr. Besson said in a radio interview with RTL Soir. “Our daughters are good friends. But there is one justice, and that should be the same for everyone. I will let justice happen.” He added, , “I don’t have any opinion on this, but I have a daughter, 13 years old. And if she was violated, nothing would be the same, even 30 years later.”
Polanski Case Exposes Divisions in France

Ah, Marty, you're on the wrong side of this one. Yay, Luc.
posted by mazola at 11:27 AM on September 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Film industry leaders like Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese and Costa Gavras signed a petition with about 100 names that expressed “stupefaction” with the arrest of Mr. Polanski at the Zurich airport.

Maybe Woody Allen isn't the best person to argue in Polanski's defense, hmm?
posted by happyroach at 12:21 PM on September 29, 2009 [13 favorites]


happyroach: "Maybe Woody Allen isn't the best person to argue in Polanski's defense, hmm?"

Yeah, he wasn't much of a surprise. But a lot of artists whose work I respect signed that fucking petition. Very depressing.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2009


It might have helped resolve things if Polanski had shown any sort of remorse. (Maybe he has, but I can't find it.) Instead, his lawyers and supporters are screaming "Outrage!" over his arrest, which is hard to sympathize with.
posted by msalt at 4:00 PM on September 29, 2009


A nice smackdown of the apologists.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:11 PM on September 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


There's no ambiguity here. He pled guilty, then evaded sentencing. The law is the law and I don't see any mitigating circumstances here. I'm firmly convinced that this conversation wouldn't happen if he wasn't famous.

Yep. But beyond just the fact that he's a convicted child molester who skipped out on the terms of his sentence, there is another principle at work here.

If his rights as a convicted child molester have been violated, he needs to petition the court wearing his best suit and tie with his lawyer present just like thousands of other convicted child molesters who are in the criminal justice system. For him to insist, that his fate be decided is his favor in absentia via legal proxies while he evades legal responsibility is a demand of profound arrogance and privilege. The courts have IMO been quite lenient in refusing to harshly sentence him in absentia as they might well be justified in doing to a person who intentionally evades or disrupts the process.

As Polankski's original plea agreement would have been time served and probation, the argument that he had served his sentence is moot, as at the end of his incarceration he would have been subject to a fairly strict period of supervision. His appearance before the court at the end of his psychiatric evaluation was a mutually-agreed stipulation of his plea agreement (and it must be said those terms were extremely liberal). He violated it, and responsibility all the grief of the last 30 years rests entirely on his head.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:23 PM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because this bit really needs to be quashed.

koeselitz The only reason that Polanski wasn't granted that universally-agreed-upon plea bargain was because the judge in the case...

No, Polanski wasn't granted that plea agreement because Polanski broke his obligations under the agreement.

Plea bargains are entirely conditional on the defendant meeting his obligations. When Polanski failed to do so by jumping bail and failing to appear for the sentencing hearing, he was no longer entitled to its goodwill and leniency.

What the judge said doesn't really matter here. The hearing never happened, and if it did, Polanski as a convicted defendant would have still been obligated to that sentence until it was successfully appealed or suspended.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2009


We put people in jail for our own personal betterment, as opposed to the greater social good of people realizing they will suffer for committing heinous crimes like child rape? I'm genuinely curious as to where you're getting your law degree.

Georgetown. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner to answer your question, Bardic, but if you reread the comment of mine that you quote you'll see that I'm the first to bring up the social contract as itself a viable logical line of reasoning for judicial punishment, and that my complaint, which then you quote above, out of context, is with the administration of it, which itself doesn't benefit anyone.

I wish to keep this civil, but imagine if we punished convicted criminals by feeding them to bears and then bequeathing their inheritances to racetrack-owners, and I said that, while maintaining our laws is a good thing, feeding convicted criminals to bears doesn't necessarily do much to rehabilitate anyone, and the racetrack-owner windfall, while good for them, doesn't do anything to reduce crime, and you interpreted that as saying that crime prevention was worthless.

Our current system is absurd, but that doesn't mean that maintaining the social contract is without merit, just that we're doing it in a barbaric and utterly senseless manner that doesn't actually bring about any positive results for anyone, anywhere, except for the prison contractors, who may as well be racetrack owners.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:25 PM on September 29, 2009


Navelgazer,

Without question the legal musings you present here are of a confused and slightly dishonest nature. Let's start off by agreeing that your argument against judicial punishment really has nothing in particular to do with the Polanski case, as there is nothing that is factually extreme about this particular case, in terms of the process which led to Polanski's conviction or with respect to the sentence he has been asked to serve. There is the presence of possible judicial misconduct, but even that is not particularly "out of the ordinary."

Instead, you resort to reckless hypotheticals about hungry bears and greedy racetrack owners to give your line of reasoning some rhetorical oomph. You imply quite strongly that there is no line to be drawn between throwing Polanski in jail and throwing him to the bears. And I will grant you that, since we're not actually practicing law here, and so we can both use exaggeration to illustrate our points. (This will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.)

Having taken a step back from your previous claim that justice should be served only when it provides a benefit to society - a seemingly singular benefit that you insist must exist for the purposes of justifying the act of punishment (but so far you have not established how one determines such benefit; see my previous counter-argument that justice served can in theory produce both a benefit and a detriment that cancel each other out) - you now claim that it is not the system that is the problem, but rather the administration of the system, that is "barbaric" and "utterly senseless."

And this has even less relevance to the Polanski case. Because the truth is there is nothing barbaric or senseless about the administration of judicial punishment in this particular circumstance. In fact - outside of the fact that Polanski has eluded said punishment - this case is about as slam-dunk as it gets.

Your true objection, window-dressing aside, is that judicial punishment in its entirety is unjustifiable because it does not intrinsically concern itself with producing a benefit; therefore, something about it must be wrong. And nothing could seemingly illustrate your point better than the various incarnations of the who cares? sentiment that caddis shared to kick this thread off - Polanski the old man, the victim that doesn't care anymore, the prison walls that only serve to make the prison contractor some coin. So let's just let him off the hook. If punishing this man does no one any good, then we must not punish him.

So let me use a hypothetical against you for a change. Let's say a man were to walk into a mall with a machine gun and go on a killing spree, resulting in a human death toll of over 100 people - mostly women and children - and then this man flees the country, living the next 35 years of his life in a country that has no extradition treaty with the US. Should this man, 35 years later, humbled by old age and on an innocent trip outside of the country that has provided him with protection, be arrested?

I would think you would want to say yes to this, that in fact you may want to feed this man to the bears, as it were.

But your critique against judicial punishment would deny this impulse in some cases. For let us imagine that the friends and family of all those who died had come to terms with their loss, they had asked the media to stop covering the story, that most, if not all of those connected to the tragedy had reached a place of true forgiveness. Let us imagine that imprisoning the murderer, this old man, provides no protection to society, as he no longer can lift his own arms, or is bound to a wheelchair. Let me ask you, does this man not deserve to be punished, benefit notwithstanding? Would it not be more absurd to let such a man live in blessed abandon?

Your critique against judicial punishment is so strong that, in my hypothetical, it would be impossible to even issue this man a slap on the wrist. For that too would benefit no one. In fact, he ought be welcomed back into the country, as there is no longer any reasoning to keep this man in his de facto exile; and a return home would, at the very least, provide a benefit to him.

This, my friend, is a violation of the social contract. Not an adaptation; not an improvement; but a complete nullification.
posted by phaedon at 2:25 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Septuagenarian child rapist and fugitive Oscar-winner in the news, Roman Polanski is stewing in a Swiss jail while celebrities including Woody Allen, known for his high morals, protest his possible extradition to the U.S.
The Roman Polanski-Seattle Connection

Now THAT'S a lead in!
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on September 30, 2009


Interesting opinion and comments @ NY Times.
posted by mazola at 9:45 AM on September 30, 2009


Thanks, folks. I've made up my mind.

Roman Polanski should rot in jail.
posted by koeselitz at 12:59 PM on September 30, 2009


Well, it gets better, the prosecutor at the heart of the allegations of judicial misconduct has recanted his interview with the documentarians. Story is here
posted by jadepearl at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm getting really tired of news story after news story writing it as, "...had sex with a 13-year-old girl" as opposed to "raped a 13-year-old girl."
posted by agregoli at 2:31 PM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here is a stupid question. Given that proceedings against him have continued for 30 years, could he be required to register as a sex offender under guidelines that were passed during that time? Or are the courts restricted to sentencing guidelines as they existed when the case was first filed?

And BTW koeselitz, I'm not saying he should rot in jail. I'll certainly agree there are strong arguments for dismissal or a lenient sentence. I'm saying that he doesn't have the right to make demands of the system without meeting his obligations.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:37 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it gets better, the prosecutor at the heart of the allegations of judicial misconduct has recanted his interview with the documentarians. Story is here

Yep, it appears the prosecutor is saying he lied about the judicial misconduct. Don't know why he would do that, but in any case I'm sure caddis and others will be along shorty to point out some other reasons why its not such a big deal that Polanski butt raped a 13 year old girl after getting her drunk and giving her some 'luudes. Maybe she was wearing a short skirt or something.
posted by Justinian at 2:49 PM on September 30, 2009


Given that proceedings against him have continued for 30 years, could he be required to register as a sex offender under guidelines that were passed during that time?

Good question. IANAL but Mr. Wikipedia (who also INAL) sez: In Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003), the Supreme Court of the United States upheld Alaska's sex-offender registration statute. Reasoning that sex offender registration deals with civil laws, not punishments, the Court ruled 6-3 that it is not an unconstitutional ex post facto law. Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer dissented.
posted by msalt at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2009


Well, it gets better, the prosecutor at the heart of the allegations of judicial misconduct has recanted his interview with the documentarians.
Huh - this guy (David Wells) was shown in the movie maybe something like four times, briefly. I didn't even realize he was a prosecutor - I thought he was a cop. Meanwhile, there was another prosecutor who was interviewed extensively, and who was definitely portrayed as being the prosecutor, Roger Gunson. There were no allegations in the movie of prosecutorial conduct against Gunson, and in fact Gunson helped get the judge dismissed during post-sentencing.

Now I am curious as to whether Wells was even involved in the case. I'm guessing he was a prosecuting attorney by profession, but not involved with the case.
posted by Flunkie at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2009


Ah, according to the second page of the article:
[Wells had] been the one who first caught the case, and he’d interviewed the victim, her mother, her brother, and Polanski himself. Because that kind of involvement would have made him a witness if the case went to trial (which lawyers, and especially prosecutors must avoid), Wells was taken off the case and Roger Gunson was assigned.
posted by Flunkie at 4:24 PM on September 30, 2009


KirkJobSluder: And BTW koeselitz, I'm not saying he should rot in jail. I'll certainly agree there are strong arguments for dismissal or a lenient sentence.

I know. Sorry that I was somewhat unclear and a bit blunt; I'm not being facetious.

He should rot in jail. Or, to put it less crudely: he should be allowed to experience punishment for what he's done. I don't doubt that he needs it, and I frankly regret playing any part in minimizing his crime.

I'm sure another trial would be painful for the victim and her family, and I hope she is spared any pain she can be; I'm not really eager for the trial itself, but Roman Polanski should be punished.
posted by koeselitz at 4:54 PM on September 30, 2009


...and by the way: thank you, Metafilter, for reminding me what side I'm on. I'm ashamed I could forget, but it's nice to have upstanding friends like you guys who can argue thoughtfully, passionately and persuasively for the right.
posted by koeselitz at 4:56 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this documentary that everyone's referencing, but I do know that it's a really bad idea to base decisions on something as manipulative as a movie. It sounds a lot like The Staircase and Paradise Lost, two films that did a lot to convince viewers that (probably) guilty people were innocent.

Seriously, it's a really good idea to never take on a cause célèbre before researching both sides (see also the embarrassing case of Mumia Abu Jamal).
posted by Bookhouse at 5:02 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and:

caddis: In this case what goals are served by punishing him? Basically retribution, with perhaps a touch of general deterrence, although realistically I don't think you are sending a very strong message that you can get away with rape if you let drop a 30 year old crime in which the victim wants the charges dropped. We are back to revenge.

I'm a strong believer that retribution and revenge should never play any part whatsoever in civil punishment. I believe with the protagonist of Plato's Laws that the purpose of punishment should be to better the soul of the person being punished, and thereby to better society as a whole.

All the same, Mr. Polanski and others may find it condescending, but I believe that Roman Polanski has a deep need for punishment. I don't mean that in a crude or cruel way; I really do believe that the act of experiencing punishment would do him good. To take one aspect of the case that I've always found odd: he's never, in the space of thirty long years, made a real, public apology for what he did. Why? I'm certain it's not because he never felt remorse for what he did; some people may believe that such monsters exist, but I feel as though it's somewhat superstitious and a touch hysterical to call anyone 'remorseless;' people feel remorse even if they can't express it. Roman Polanski has never expressed his remorse, never had that most important experience for a criminal of apologizing for what he's done, principally (I think) because he and his lawyers have always known that a public apology would probably precipitate an arrest or, at the very least, bad publicity and the alienation of all the people who defend him so ardently. He's trapped in this social situation where he feels constant pressure to put this behind him, to forget about it, without every really facing it.

I think there's no better thing for him than to stand before a sentencing judge and before the victim and her family and say that he's sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 5:08 PM on September 30, 2009


Wow, reading through this entire thread again really pisses me the hell off. If this is the other side of the political spectrum from teabaggery, we are well and truly fucked.

Friends and neighbors, there is exactly one thing we really know about this case, and that is that the judge thought it was a great vehicle to get his own puss on the cover of People magazine. Everybody agrees to that -- the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the victim, and Polanski. Everybody agrees to that. The judge was untrustworthy. That is the one true bona fide fact we have.

We have Polanski's admission that he knew the girl's age, which was almost certainly required as part of his plea agreement. The fact that he said it, damning though it is, doesn't make it true, and frankly I don't believe it if only because the dude has never had another offense. (And to those who would bring up Nastassia Kinski and his obvious fondness for young girls -- he was in all other cases meticulous about keeping it legal. Why not in this one case?)

We have the incredibly damning testimony of the victim, a child at the time being coached by the prosecutor, possibly the judge, and almost certainly her mother. How much of what she says is true? Despite the conclusions drawn by some here I am not in the habit of blaming the victim, but I am in the habit of being skeptical, and this whole story stinks to high FSM.

We have her presence at Nicholson's house for the topless photo shoot sans adult supervision. We have her later entreaties as an adult to put it all to bed. Mostly this has been interpreted as the poor PTSD victim wanting to bury it to the detriment of justice, but to me it smells much more like wanting to hide something that is likely to come out if this thing is ever reopened in a serious way.

The whole Solomon thing with the cutting the panties in half -- that makes all kinds of alarms start ringing in my head. That kind of shit is wrong, folks. That's not how it's done, and if justice isn't about how it's done it isn't about anything, unless you have just invented a machine that can read minds.

We have the statement of Polanski's defense counsel, who when asked if the judge could be trusted answered "no." If your attorney told you that, and you had the power to get on a flight to France, would you stay and take your chances?

We have the French government, which may have been protecting him partly because he's a Famous Film Director but which I doubt would have protected him just for that reason. I would bet a substantial sum of money the reason they have his back is the untrustworthy judge, the lack of recourse should the judge exercise his untrustworthiness, and the sketchiness of the whole situation which (even more in the mores of the time than today) smells like a gigantic setup (OMFG YOU FUCKED A 13 YEAR OLD YOU PERVERT, NOW COUGH UP SOME DOUGH) that went horribly wrong when the judge decided to make it his ticket to the cover of People.

I like to think I am not too horrible a person, though some people would read some of the things I've written and decide I am pretty horrible even if they had no idea what I think of Polanski. I think rape is horrible and I think children need protection. But I also know that children are as capable of bad things as adults, and famous people walk around with targets on their backs, and I really want to know what the FUCK this girl was doing in Jack Nicholson's house doing a topless shoot with a strange guy and nobody else was around. Because ultimately that isn't about Roman Polanski. That's about Mom. And maybe the fact that Mom still lives with the girl in question has something to do with the girl's desire for all of this to be swept under a rug.

I am not saying any of this because I think Polanski is a genius or his works were necessary or anything like that. There are other people who can direct films.

I am saying this because the concept of fairness runs both ways. Yes we must give the victim due consideration, and not adhere to stereotypes about "asking for it." And yes, I know that to a certain way of reading (particularly should you pull a sentence here out of context) it might look like that's exactly what I'm doing.

But I'm not, really. My problem with this is that it smells, I have never really found it credible that Polanski could have done something this horrible, and yet there was nothing before or after indicating such stupid adherence to the dictates of the little head. There are real questions that are not answered and the supposed answers that we have in the form of testimony are subject to doubt for a lot of reasons. We have, above all, the untrustworthy judge. It appears likely that Polanski would have been willing -- at any time in the last thirty years even -- to return and serve the short sentence that had been promised as part of the plea agreement, which in turn required his admission that he knew the girl was 13.

He never got that assurance, and in its absence only a fool could blame him for not coming back.
posted by localroger at 5:17 PM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everybody agrees to that -- the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the victim, and Polanski. Everybody agrees to that. The judge was untrustworthy. That is the one true bona fide fact we have.

1). Who denies he had sex with a 13-year-old girl?

2). Who denies that he fled the country?
posted by Bookhouse at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2009


Bookhouse: I haven't seen this documentary that everyone's referencing, but I do know that it's a really bad idea to base decisions on something as manipulative as a movie. It sounds a lot like The Staircase and Paradise Lost, two films that did a lot to convince viewers that (probably) guilty people were innocent.

The documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, isn't dishonest. It has less motivation to lie or bend the truth than the films you mention; after all, Roman Polanski admits having committed the crime.

However: I want to say that from the first I've found the title extremely abhorrent. Yes, I see what the director was doing, and I see that she thought there was an interesting correlation between the technical 'wanted for questioning' and sexual desire. However, calling an admitted rapist 'desired' leaves sort of a bad taste in my mouth, and (though I imagine this must be unintentional) points toward a whole set of pretty disgusting theories about the crime that was committed and rape in general.
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2009


Bookhouse: Who denies he had sex with a 13-year-old girl?

I question whether he knew the girl was 13, and in particular whether he may have been deliberately misled on this topic. The rest of his life indicates that flouting the age of consent laws is not typical behavior.

If you don't think the perp's knowledge of the victim's age should be considered, I don't want to live in the country you would rule, because you are an asshole.

Who denies that he fled the country?

That is not part of the problem, it is the result of the problem.
posted by localroger at 5:37 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


localroger: The rest of his life indicates that flouting the age of consent laws is not typical behavior.

Erm... Natassja Kinsi?

If you don't think the perp's knowledge of the victim's age should be considered, I don't want to live in the country you would rule, because you are an asshole.

If someone is guilty of rape, the question of whether or not he knew the victim was 13 has no bearing whatsoever on the question of his guilt. You do not believe that Roman Polanski is guilty of rape - you believe that he is merely guilty of having sex with a minor - and, of course, if someone is merely guilty of consensual sex with a minor, knowledge of the minor's age is a crucial question.
posted by koeselitz at 6:00 PM on September 30, 2009


Sorry; you told me not to bring up Kinsi, and I did. Disregard that bit, if you like.

The trouble, localroger, is that there are several issues here.

The central one in my mind and in the mind of everyone here, I believe, is this: was the sex consensual? You think that it was; you say that you "have never really found it credible that Polanski could have done something this horrible" and that, in the absence of any really credible attempt to answer the question, you fall on the side of his innocence. I, on the other hand, disagree; everything about him, from the way he carries himself, the way he has never found it necessary to utter an apology of any kind, the way he has made it clear in every interview that he has a 'thing for young girls' (indicating that every man does, so why shouldn't he?) - all of these point in my mind to a guilty conscience.

But the other issue is this: that's my feeling—it's not necessarily the truth. I presume that I don't know any more about this case than you do. Neither of us was there that night; we have read coverage of what happened, seen a documentary, read about a trial, read interviews and editorials from both sides... but neither of us was there that night. And so far as I know nobody here was there that night.

In such a situation, how could you not welcome his arrest? You believe that he is innocent; if so, should he not be allowed to defend himself, and to finally stand on American soil and defend his innocence? I believe that he's guilty; but I don't know, and while I finally believe that a good chunk of testimony from the trial (not all, but some) is trustworthy, the extent to which justice was really perverted there should be examined in a careful, legal way.

The man deserves a fair trial. Everyone does. Several of the articles I've read about his arrest indicate that one of the reasons it happened was because his lawyers have been campaigning much more vociferously for a pardon ever since the documentary about him was released last year, and because the pressure was mounting to do something. I think they did the right thing; a simple, complete pardon would have denied Polanski the right to have his say and defend himself, whereas now we have a chance to see justice done and to finally settle things. And I have no doubt that if it becomes clear that he's guilty of rape most Europeans who have been sneering for the last few decades about 'American prudishness' in this case will probably change their minds about Polanski.
posted by koeselitz at 6:25 PM on September 30, 2009


localroger: Now you see, every step along the way, alarm bells should have been going off in Polanski's head. Why am I taking topless photos of a minor? Why am I alone, in a house, with a minor? Why am I in a hot tub with a naked minor? Why am I giving a minor drugs? Why am I having sex with a minor? Whether Polanski knew her exact age strikes me as not very relevant, he should have been staying 10 yards away from this situation on the very hint she might be underage. Call a cab. Call a babysitter. Call a chaperon. If that makes me an asshole, so be it.

Cutting the panties in half strikes me as a reasonable way to protect the defense's right to independently evaluate the evidence at a laboratory of his choice.

We know that not all rapists and child molesters are multiple offenders. And perhaps he might be a smart multiple offender who has evaded the legal system. It doesn't matter much. If he wishes to make the case that it should be declared a mistrial, he needs to do so standing in court like every other convicted child molester.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:27 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder: Cutting the panties in half strikes me as a reasonable way to protect the defense's right to independently evaluate the evidence at a laboratory of his choice.

I disagree pretty strongly. This is not how it's done. Cutting them can damage them as evidence, and it's clear that things like semen stains aren't always apparent to the naked eye. This is not how lab evidence should be treated. Nonetheless, I don't think the evidence itself was really damaged enough to affect the results.

localroger: My problem with this is that it smells, I have never really found it credible that Polanski could have done something this horrible...

So you really believe that Samantha Geimer was and is lying, and has been lying for more than thirty years, at the behest of her mother? That she didn't really feel uncomfortable about what happened that night, but just said she was because her mother told her to?

One of the bits about the documentary that struck me - not least because I watched it with my ex-mother-in-law, who claimed to have met her mother and said that her mother was a terrible person - was the fact that Samantha Geimer states pretty plainly that she's kind of disgusted by the things that people have said about her mom over the years. I respect that. You may say that it was an act of extraordinary negligence for a mother to drop her 13-year-old daughter off at a topless shoot with a 44-year-old man - I agree, it was - but to blame the mother for what ensued without laying even more blame on the man is sexism on the highest order; especially if this was a rape, as I can't help but believe it was.
posted by koeselitz at 6:38 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I object to a pardon or dismissal in this case, because I don't feel defendants should have the right to evade their legal obligations to stand trial granted on the basis of extreme wealth and privilege. If the case bends that way, Polanski wouldn't be the first person mistreated by a biased criminal justice system, but he'd be among the few to get relief from the safety of a country unwilling to extradite his ass.

And personally, the idea that the court was so terribly biased against him is laughable. As a defendant, he was given liberal release to leave the country to complete a project. As a convicted felon, he was ordered to appear for psychiatric counseling and sentencing pretty much on his own bond. The trial judge's threatened sentence was 48 days, making his total sentence only 90 days, the typical time of the in-patient evaluation Polanski agreed to. If the judge had done his threatened worst and Polanski served the time, we would be screaming that he was given a slap on the wrist for felony child molestation.

Geimer has not to my knowledge recanted her testimony or her opinion that Polanski is guilty. She's only stated that a continued trial is not in her best interest.

koeselitz: I'm happy to be corrected on the panties issue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:59 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Wow, reading through this entire thread again really pisses me the hell off. If this is the
> other side of the political spectrum from teabaggery, we are well and truly fucked.

We appear to have had mirror-image thoughts at just about the same moment. The attitudes I have seen expressed in this thread have made me more comfortable than I have been in a good long time about hanging with anti-TBs. I was beginning to wonder if I had anything at all in common with either crowd.
posted by jfuller at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2009


localroger, I don't feel you are arguing in good faith, so I'm not going to continue this with you.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:17 PM on September 30, 2009


koeselitz -- You bring up the best (and really IMO only) really good refutation of my take, and it's not one I take lightly. The problem with that is that, as far as I am concerned, ALL of the testimony is tainted thanks to the publicitymongering judge.

Nothing of the case can be trusted because of the judge. Even the evidence is tainted because it was handled incorrectly. The problem here is that American justice provides no relief for the misconduct of such a bad judge. As in supreme court cases where bad guys get off because the cops misbehaved, the proper behavior here is for the system to let go because it misfired. In that regard it doesn't really matter whether Polanski is a child rapist or even an axe murderer -- he was abused by a system that provides no other recourse for such abuse, and the only mechanism we have to deal with that is to put aside the conviction.

Polanski's running really changes nothing; he ran because he was advised that the system had been rigged against him, and nobody in the following 30 years was willing to guarantee him that it wasn't rigged. None of that has anything to do with the original complaint, charge, or sentence -- all of which are also different things, all subject to a lot of post facto scrutiny the victim doesn't seem to want.
posted by localroger at 7:18 PM on September 30, 2009


Bookhouse -- I have no idea why you would say that. Evidence or I guess you abdicate your position.
posted by localroger at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2009


I am astonished that anyone could find his behavior justifiable in any possible way. I can see forgiving the guy for an actual statutory rape if he thought he was in love with his victim, she thought she was in love with him, they'd been seeing each other for a while and he stopped when she said no and everything was completely consensual on her part, if exploitative on the part of the adult. *That's* bad judgment, it's wrong for him to do-- and probably should still be illegal, but it's something that I could see forgiving after all this time.

But this has every possible element of premeditation, coercion and sleaze. It wasn't some 70's, let it all hang out party where they started fooling around and he went further and she didn't protest. There's nothing back then that makes it more OK than now. No one has any evidence whatsoever that her version of events is different from his. He clearly planned to rape her right from the start.

He's in a position of power over her due to his wealth, fame and access to career she wants. He's way older. If after taking hours of photos with her, he can't tell that she's thirteen, he's blind. He takes her somewhere she can't escape-- he drives her there.

There's no love, no affection, no relationship, no consent. He drugs her-- she takes the lude voluntarily and had had one before, but you still don't give drugs to kids, especially with alcohol, he could have had a murder charge because that's a potentially deadly mix. Then, he uses force. He ignores when she says no. Repeatedly. When he discovers she's not on the pill, he rapes her anally.

What about this scenario isn't rape? What about this scenario isn't predatory? I don't think any Europeans would find this acceptable either-- they seem to be going on the idea that it was the scenario of statutory rape, not what it really was.

And yeah, liberals who defend this-- you are as crazy as the teabaggers.
posted by Maias at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


localroger: You bring up the best (and really IMO only) really good refutation of my take, and it's not one I take lightly. The problem with that is that, as far as I am concerned, ALL of the testimony is tainted thanks to the publicitymongering judge.

Except that everything we know about the publicitymongering judge is tainted by Polanski's publicitymongering supporters, who have fairly systematically bent the documentary evidence to paint Polanski in a good light, and the judge in a bad light.

The problem here is that American justice provides no relief for the misconduct of such a bad judge.

Nonsense. The judge in question was promptly removed from the case. But of course, Polanski rendered that problem moot by breaking his obligations under the plea bargain. The case has a new judge, one that appears to be willing to consider arguments for dismissal, mistrial, or time served. But Polanski needs to stop fucking with the court system and meet his prior obligations as a convicted defendant before any decision is made on a further sentence.

If Polanski had not been satisfied with the fact that the State of California removed the judge in question, he had an appeals process due to him as a convicted child molester under U. S. jurisdiction. And yes, that process often finds in favor of the defendant in cases of judicial malpractice.

Which probably would have taken longer than the slap on the wrist he was facing.

Polanski's running really changes nothing; he ran because he was advised that the system had been rigged against him, and nobody in the following 30 years was willing to guarantee him that it wasn't rigged.

You have a very funny definition of "rigged against him." The court allowed Polanski travel to Munich, release on his own bond, would have let Polanski's lawyers grill the witness regarding her sexual history, and threatened him with no more than a 90-day sentence with credit for time spent in the hospital. When charges of judicial misconduct arose, he got a new judge. To me, it seems that the court treated Polanski with profound favoritism, and Polanski ran because the promised slap on the wrist might have proved too harsh.

And had he served the minimal sentence he was threatened with, people would have howled that he was given a slap on the wrist, and forgotten about it by the end of the decade. It really chaps my ass that Polanski is being treated as a Robin Hood or political refugee, rather than a guy who fled the law because his guilty plea might obligate him to 48 days of prison time.

Maias: What about this scenario isn't rape? What about this scenario isn't predatory? I don't think any Europeans would find this acceptable either-- they seem to be going on the idea that it was the scenario of statutory rape, not what it really was.

Actually, there have been a number of articles lately talking about how Polanski is not a hero among French and Polish voters, and a lot of people are disgruntled that Polanski is being treated with profound favoritism by politicians and diplomats.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just for comparison, Paris Hilton was sentenced to 45 days for violating probation on a DUI. It's a pretty sickening state of affairs when a convicted child molester is treated like a political refugee because he refused to stand for 48.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:10 PM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I believe Polanski was looking for what would in other worlds be considered a contract guarantee, and he was not being offered it. All the rest of it really counts for nothing against that -- do we honor our contracts or not? Polanski's defense had been asking for a resolution, and when the response came clear he took the only sensible action.
posted by localroger at 8:15 PM on September 30, 2009


I believe Polanski was looking for what would in other worlds be considered a contract guarantee, and he was not being offered it.

He plead guilty to a pretty horrific thing. This wasn't a business deal. He was being sentenced to jail and was supposed to serve 90 days of psych eval and didn't.


do we honor our contracts or not?

Look, if he had felt that the sentencing was unfair, he could have appealed. If there was legal malfeasance on the part of the judge, he could have appealed. The contract in the criminal context is that you plead your case, it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did something, and if you are convicted you fulfill the terms of the sentence, while appealing.

It's kind of disingenous to talk about honoring contracts when the whole reason that Polanski got into this mess was because he didn't respect the social contract that says when a frikken 13 year says, "No", you don't drug her up and then stick your penis inside of her.

and when the response came clear he took the only sensible action.

I can understand if he was convicted for "being a movie director" and his punishment was going to be horrible torture and dismemberment. But this was not so. He was convicted for being a rapist, and he was going to go to jail.

Every rapist, even someone who only rapes a 13 year old girl once during an illustrious directing career, should still go to fucking jail.

I hope, hope, hope you are simply trolling, because if you believe what you are actually saying then that actually concerns me.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


localroger: The problem here is that American justice provides no relief for the misconduct of such a bad judge.

It cannot be said strongly enough: this is simply not true not for a minute, not for a second. 'American justice' does provide relief from the misconduct of judges. I suspect that many of those rallying around Polanski in Europe truly believe that America is a wasteland to justice with no recourse whatsoever in cases of judicial misconduct.

In fact, I've just finished watching the documentary again, and it points out that the two lawyers on both sides had the judge in the case removed from Polanski's case when he attempted to try him in absentia after he'd fled. 'American justice' dictated that, had Polanski returned, he would have had another judge, one unprejudiced by the silly whims that his previous judge had followed.

As in supreme court cases where bad guys get off because the cops misbehaved, the proper behavior here is for the system to let go because it misfired. In that regard it doesn't really matter whether Polanski is a child rapist or even an axe murderer -- he was abused by a system that provides no other recourse for such abuse, and the only mechanism we have to deal with that is to put aside the conviction.

I really and truly cannot believe that you honestly hold this opinion, localroger. You're saying - please correct me if I'm getting this wrong - that you think that child rapists and axe murderers shouldn't be granted a chance to appeal the verdict, as they are now in the US judicial system, that they shouldn't be given the chance to defend themselves before a different judge and in a different and hopefully fairer situation, but they should rather be set free at the slightest hint of judicial misconduct? That's not how things are done here, and I can't imagine you really believe it should be that way anywhere; if the courts started simply releasing potentially dangerous criminals simply because the courts themselves have made mistakes, then the judicial system isn't protecting the public or doing justice. No: the proper method is the current method of appeal and of removing judges who can be shown to have a prejudice in a case.

Moreover, while I agree that the judge was a horrible influence at trial, again: do you really think this girl was lying? She describes in the documentary how painful all of this was for her, how difficult it was to sit there answering very, very private questions that these teams of men incessantly asked her. And she talks about how hard it was to keep going to school when no one believed her. I'm certain it would have been easiest for her to minimize what happened, to make it seem smaller and try to argue it away; but she's stuck to the story, and I find that both admirable and convincing.

localroger, the key for me is this: I am convinced, wholly and completely, that if Roman Polanski had stayed in the country he would have had an entirely and completely different trial on appeal; that all of the really unjust things which had happened at his first trial would have been revealed in the second; that Judge Rittenband would have been convicted of wrongdoing and justly punished; and that Roman Polanski would have been able to put all of this behind him long, long ago and not be known for what he is known for now. I don't say I blame him for running; he didn't know our system, he didn't know how it worked, all he knew was a foolhardy and controlling judge who had made his life hell. But if he had stayed, justice would have been done. If you believe otherwise, then you don't really have a problem with the case of Roman Polanski; you have a problem with the entire US Judicial system.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Deathalicious: He plead guilty to a pretty horrific thing. This wasn't a business deal. He was being sentenced to jail and was supposed to serve 90 days of psych eval and didn't... I can understand if he was convicted for "being a movie director" and his punishment was going to be horrible torture and dismemberment. But this was not so. He was convicted for being a rapist, and he was going to go to jail.

In the interest of getting the facts straight:

Roman Polanski was not and has never been convicted of rape. The only charge to which he pled guilty, and of which he was convicted, was unlawful sexual intercourse. That's a legal term which in this case pretty much just means "having sex (consensual or otherwise) with a minor." Nothing in his conviction indicates that he committed an act of rape. Of course this was merely a plea bargain struck by an advocate of the family who wished to spare the victim more grief, and the victim has never once recanted her story that she was, in fact, raped.

Moreover, the planned plea bargain (which was discussed and promised to the attorneys on both sides but never officially enacted) was not that he be sentenced to jail after 90 days of psych evaluation. Every psych evaluation Polanski had ever had suggested the same thing: probation. It was understood by all those involved that probation would be the outcome.

Polanski fled the country a day after the judge called both attorneys into his chambers and told them that he wanted to sentence him to a nice long jail term in front of the reporters, wait for them to leave, and then have a second sentencing where he gave Polanski summary probation. When asked by the attorneys what guarantee they'd have that he'd really do this, he told them that they had to trust him; and when Polanski's lawyer mentioned that he might ask for a hearing about all this, as was his right, Rittenband said that if he did that he'd sentence Polanski to a longer jail term than he'd even planned to pretend to.

It was all indeed pretty sleazy on the part of Judge Rittenband. I don't think any of that changes the facts of what happened that night, however.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 PM on September 30, 2009


> Nothing of the case can be trusted because of the judge. Even the evidence is tainted
> because it was handled incorrectly.

Not trolling, just asking a specific question. Do you not think we can trust the accounts given by the accuser and the accused? They substantially agree. I suppose the girl might have been bullied by the cops to give the details she gave, now in the record, or had her arm twisted by her obviously hideous stage mom. But what about Polansky? He's not dead, he can still talk. If the accusations were fabricated--if there were even a breath of something exculpatory that he could say--why wouldn't he be saying it now at the top of his voice? But he isn't. Don't you consider that telling?

Or do you mean, not that we truly can't know the facts of the case, but that we are not entitled to pay any attention to them because of the behavior of some of the agents of the State?
posted by jfuller at 9:02 PM on September 30, 2009


Even if Rittenband was sleazy and off the rails at the end, the sensible thing to do would have been to file for dismissal, mistrial, and a stay of sentencing on the grounds of judicial misconduct. As Rittenband was removed from the case, it seems quite likely that Polanski could have gotten what he wanted from the court system.

Which is exactly what his lawyers are attempting to do, and he apparently has a judge who is friendly to the idea of dismissal or a mistrial. But the problem is that his lawyers are asserting his rights as a defendant while thumbing their nose at Polanski's obligations as a defendant. And I think the judge is quite prudent in asserting that fugitives who flee the court system can't demand long-distance favors of it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:36 PM on September 30, 2009


I don't know localroger, but he is sure acting like a troll here. In case he's not:
You're missing the point that Polanski arranged the photo shoot with the girl's mother, picked her up from her parents' house, and claimed he was doing a photo shoot for Vogue. Now, either he got a signed consent form from both the girl and her parents, which would state her age; or he was lying about the photo shoot and it was a ruse to have sex with her. Either way, he's a predator who knew she was underage.
posted by msalt at 10:46 PM on September 30, 2009


I believe Polanski was looking for what would in other worlds be considered a contract guarantee, and he was not being offered it. All the rest of it really counts for nothing against that -- do we honor our contracts or not?

Judges are not bound by the promises of the prosecution. Taking a plea bargain is always a risk and Polanski's lawyer should have informed him of such.

Look, if he had felt that the sentencing was unfair, he could have appealed.

And...he was never sentenced, but yes, it seems like he would have had a pretty good appeal.
posted by Atreides at 6:11 AM on October 1, 2009


I believe Polanski was looking for what would in other worlds be considered a contract guarantee, and he was not being offered it.

I'm not clear if you're talking about then or now. But if you're talking about then, a criminal defendant has no right to demand that he be given a "contract guarantee," and if it's not offered, to then flee the country.

If you're talking about now, a fugitive from justice has no right to demand a "contract guarantee" while remaining a fugitive.

That's just not how our criminal justice system works, nor how it should work. The bad judge has been off the case for 20 years. The judge is a distraction held up by Polanski's apologists.
posted by Mavri at 10:47 AM on October 1, 2009


Atreides: Judges are not bound by the promises of the prosecution. Taking a plea bargain is always a risk and Polanski's lawyer should have informed him of such.

Again, in the interest of the facts: the issue isn't simply that a plea bargain was rescinded. The issue is that the attorneys on both sides were asked by Judge Rittenband to go along with a fake sentencing hearing which presumably would have given Roman Polanski many years in prison. Judge Rittenband told both attorneys that he would stage this fake sentencing for the press, in order to convince the public that Polanski was being punished more than he actually was, and that he would then wait for all the reporters and the public to leave the courthouse and finally issue the real sentence. Moreover, when Polanski's lawyer expressed some reservations about this highly unusual (and frankly quite illegal) arrangement and asked for a public hearing about it as was Polanski's right, Judge Rittenband told him that if he did that he'd lock up Polanski for a long time anyhow. This was a judge who had already forced both lawyers to give prearranged arguments in open court knowing the result that the judge would give in the end, so this sort of thing wasn't even without precedent, amazingly.

Polanski's lawyer informed him fully, but he was also honest. He didn't tell Polanski to flee the country - in fact, he was shocked when he did, and he did everything he could to bring him back - but the night before he left the country, when Polanski asked him: "can I trust this judge?" his lawyer told him: "I really don't know." I think that was a fair answer.

This is all fantastic, and yes, appeal would have been the proper thing. What's amazing to me is how very different things might have gone if Polanski hadn't fled the country; if he'd stayed quiet and attempted to simply defend himself, I can't help but feel (especially watching the documentary again and listening to the indignation of both attorneys, who ended up actually banding together to force Rittenband's removal) as though the focus would have turned from Polanski to Judge Rittenband. If Rittenband had been removed from the case, then all of his antics could have been brought out into the open and discussed; and the unfair trial that Polanski had had would have been known about publicly. And, I think, the situation would have been rectified.
posted by koeselitz at 1:45 PM on October 1, 2009


koeselitz, I have problems with the American judicial system. Not far from where I live awhile back a woman was convicted of murder for the horrible crime of having a child who died of SIDS. Of course it didn't help that she was poor and single, and couldn't afford any fancy appeals or other recourse after she was sentenced to 15 years in jail. I realize there are actions Polanski could have taken had Rittenbrand given him a 20 year sentence, but he would almost certainly have spent years in jail while those processes trudged forward.

As for the girl -- no, I do not believe the grand jury testimony. I have testified before a grand jury before, and you can bet your last dollar that that testimony was rehearsed for days before the girl actually took the stand. While the prosecutor is unlikely to have put words in her mouth, he probably did ask her the same question over and over looking for better responses, and when he got what he was looking for said "OK, when I ask you this, that is what you say." The end result is all carefully choreographed to lead up to that "I was scared of him." The more I read it the more fake it looks.

What I honestly think happened is that the mother knowingly set up the situation knowing that her daughter looked older than she was and knowing that Polanski might make a move on her. The daughter might or might not have been in on it. Maybe the goal was money, maybe it was a little help with the daughter's career, but when they sprung it on Polanski, he reacted by denying it all. When they took it to court they exaggerated it into forcible rape because consensual sex with a juvenile just wasn't that big a deal back then, and the end result -- torpedoed by the untrustworthy judge -- was probably that Polanski pled down to a fair accounting of what really happened, which was that he made a major mistake by not knowing the girl's age. Had Rittenbrand not decided to make it his ticket to the cover of Newsweek it would have all ended pretty quietly right there, and we would not be talking about it today.

If that sounds like a horrible thing to think of these total strangers, let me just say that I have known several people in my life who would do somethign like that in a heartbeat. (I have since dissociated myself from them; they could be fun to be around but I eventually realized they were dangerous to everyone they knew.) The girl I mentioned upthread who started doing bar crawls at 12 eventually (in her late 30's) did jail time for trying to blackmail a local businessman over, of all things, accusing him of trying to cheat his customers. Today she is a major meth head and is losing all of her teeth.

Not knowing any of these people, I have to ask which is more incredible. Polanski now has a long history; he has never reoffended, and despite a continuing fondness for young girls has stayed meticulously within the law where he lives. I find it very hard to believe, considering this, that he is so out of control that he would have acted as he's accused of here. It's possible of course, but the gut check fails it on this one.

Or is it that the mother and possibly daughter too are more like my ex-friend N? That I find highly believable, having seen way too many such antics first-hand.

What pisses me off here is that none of us knows any of these people, so it is all conjecture; certainly the chain of events I just outlined is as possible as the chain described by the testimony. But our response as a group has been a huge pileon, a witchhunt to burn the rapey rapist who rapes people because if you don't join it you're pro-rape. At least one person here literally accused me of being pro-rape simply because I dared to suggest that things are not as they seem and Polanski might not be the demon he is characterized as. He certainly has plenty of cause to distrust our judicial system (frankly he's not alone). If the case for his monstrousness was as cut an dried as so many comments here assume I seriously doubt the French government would have sided with him. Their laws don't require them to shield him from extradition, but presumably having heard his side of the story they chose to.

For what it's worth I believe you're right that if he had stayed he would have been exonerated on appeal. But I think it's reasonable for a person accused (particularly if accused unfairly, because it's much more shocking than if you know you're guilty when you're accused) to simply assume the system capable of such a misfire is too broken to trust and, given the means, to remove one's self from its influence. It's true that to the members of the system in question you look guilty, but if you think the alternative could realistically be spending the rest of your life in prison, that might still seem like the best choice.
posted by localroger at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2009


localroger, you're bending over so far backwards to excuse Polanski, to give him the maximal benefit of the doubt, that you're facing the right way again.

Which raises the question: why? You're willing to believe that the daughter's mother set her up for rape and that the daughter lied to the grand jury, all to advance her career. You're willing to believe the worst about everyone else and the best about Polanski. You've, in effect, constructed a conspiracy theory about victimizing Polanski.

Seriously, reread your posts, substituting "nameless celebrity about whom I don't give a shit." You came into this refusing to believe Polanski is actually guilty of wrongdoing, and now you've painted yourself into an absurd corner.
posted by fatbird at 6:08 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


fatbird, I do not believe the best about Polanski. My tendency is to believe the worst about everybody. In this case I think it is the mother and daughter who are getting a pass when their story stinks to high $deity. That Polanski is a dubious person is a given, since he is rich and famous and obviously has taken advantage of this in ways we all wish we could but can't because we aren't rich and famous. However he is also a human being, and I get the sense that he reacted to this very humanly. The running thing in particular wasn't very smart long-term, but I find it highly understandable.

I don't think the mother set her daughter up for rape. I don't think rape happened. I think the mother set her daugher up for sex. The daughter was, as we are not supposed to remember because the way it came out was all so wrong, not sexually inexperienced, even though she was 13. I think the plan was that if the guy comes on to you maybe resist a little, but not too much because he can do us a lot of good honey. And I don't think she seriously resisted. People who really are rapey generally don't just do it once.

I don't consider this thinking the best of Polanski. I think he is pretty immature and scummy.

This is about what works in my head, the model that explains all the data. And not really knowing any of these people I can't claim any real credence for that model, but it IS my model and I'd say that unless you know any of these people yours can't possibly be any better than mine. To speculate that Polanski is a monstrous scum rapist who targets 13 year olds is OK, but to speculate that the mother and daughter set it up to gain advantage and then it went horribly wrong because the judge was a piece of human shit is ... what?

I don't stand by my claims; I don't think any thing that has been said here (nor much of what has been quoted) has any validity whatsoever. I do stand by the POSSIBILITY that Polanski is not the monster so many people seem intent on making him. I maintain that possibility because that is much more real to me than the very fake seeming narrative that I've been asked to accept. If you are not willing to accept the POSSIBILITY that I am right, why should I be a gentleman about the POSSIBILITY you advance about his rapey rapiness?

None of us know the truth about this, and my point is that to be asking for Polanski's head on a pike is exactly equivalent to calling the daughter a slut who asked for it. I think something in the middle happened, and we are unlikely to ever find out exactly how it went down.
posted by localroger at 7:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


localroger: ... our response as a group has been a huge pileon, a witchhunt to burn the rapey rapist who rapes people because if you don't join it you're pro-rape.

This is what the discussion here boils down to, in my mind: the response. And to be honest I think you should keep in mind that what happens here doesn't happen in a vacuum; there are discussions abroad, there are discussions within the US, and these discussions take place in many contexts. The Metafilter response, I think (and maybe it's always this way on Metafilter) has not primarily been about the case itself—it has been about the broad public reaction to Polanski's arrest. Maybe it's because I refuse to watch US news networks, maybe it's because I'm more attuned to the foreign press, or maybe it's just because I'm not very connected at all; but my own perception is that there has been a broad upswelling of outrage against Polanski's re-arrest, and Metafilter's reaction here is a fairly isolated pocket of resistance to that outrage.

I'm not saying we don't matter; but I do feel as though, again, this is more about the response than about the crime itself. And while I have some interest in how the thing turns out, and I still have more than a few things to say about how the trial was conducted and what a snake Rittenband was, I must say that the international reaction (and especially the reaction in France) has always made me feel more than a little uncomfortable.

Near the end of Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, the recent documentary, a member of the French Academy is interviewed shortly after Polanski's honorary induction into that august body. He says something to the effect of: "What do I think of Roman's dark side? I know he has it - he expresses something of this darker side of life in his films. I believe this dark side is what is most sympathetic about him to me; it makes him very easy for me to identify with." Now, I know about the French Academy. I respect it. And I know that the French are not by nature evil people or sleazy people or even sexist people. Moreover, while I don't know the man who is interviewed, I cannot bring myself to believe that he is saying that rape is part of the dark side of life that he identifies with. In fact he speaks clearly and thoughtfully enough for me to believe that he does not believe he has any reason for being misunderstood when he says this. In short: I conclude that this man, and all of those French people who support Polanski, either (a) are not aware that he was accused not of having sex with a minor but of rape of a minor; or (b) they are aware of this but think so little of the American system that they think it's just too incredible and impossible to believe. In fact, I think it's almost always the former, but maybe that's just me being charitable.

Either way, I think we've finally exposed some of the motivation behind the responses: there was outrage when Polanski was arrested recently because there are many, many people in the world who simply believe that the American system is far too dysfunctional either to determine the truth or to mete out punishment in a just way. I only wish the people who say this would say what they really mean; instead of saying 'it's an outrage that this man has been arrested,' they should say 'the American system is too inept to handle this case properly.'

... I think it's reasonable for a person accused... to simply assume the system capable of such a misfire is too broken to trust and, given the means, to remove one's self from its influence.

The attorney that prosecuted Roman Polanski, Roger Gunson, says something very interesting in the documentary. He says: "given the circumstances, I'm not surprised he left the country." The filmmaker finds this amazing, and asks him again: "You're not?" "No."

This is interesting to me because he didn't say that it was the right thing to do, or that he was glad it happened; in fact, in interviews Marina Zenovich (who directed Wanted and Desired) has said that what convinced to make the film was seeing Gunson and the victim on Larry King just after Polanski had fled; Gunson's comment was: "This is a sad day for the American legal system." He was right: when Polanski fled, it meant that we, in some large way, had failed. It may seem selfish, but I am glad that we now have another chance to do the right thing.

But in the end there is an important thing we need to remember: all of this is still external stuff, part of our response to the case, and not actually part of the case itself. We have to be careful not to politicize this in our minds. It's very easy for us to say "this is just another case of the American legal system failing," or "this is just another case of a sleazy european having his way with our women," or "this is just another case of the hysteria that sees pedophiles around every corner." Maybe we're too paranoid about pedophilia; maybe our legal system needs work. All of that is just another reason for us to handle this case properly, and to make sure just is done regardless of our political desires for it.

localroger: What I honestly think happened is that the mother knowingly set up the situation knowing that her daughter looked older than she was and knowing that Polanski might make a move on her. The daughter might or might not have been in on it. Maybe the goal was money, maybe it was a little help with the daughter's career, but when they sprung it on Polanski, he reacted by denying it all. When they took it to court they exaggerated it into forcible rape because consensual sex with a juvenile just wasn't that big a deal back then, and the end result -- torpedoed by the untrustworthy judge -- was probably that Polanski pled down to a fair accounting of what really happened, which was that he made a major mistake by not knowing the girl's age.

Several things:

First, I've heard this argument again and again for many years. My ex-mother-in-law (that's a cute turn of phrase, eh?) claimed to have known Samantha Geimer's mother quite well, and said that she was a terrible, slimy person who would do anything to further her own or her child's career. This has also been repeated by many Hollywood folks who were around then and had met the family. It may be true. It may be true that a good mother would never leave her daughter unattended for hours on end for a planned photo shoot with a man who was known to be a womanizer with a penchant for young women.

But it strikes me that this line of reasoning means almost nothing as far as the real questions of the case are concerned. To argue that Geimer's mother was displaying appalling neglect by putting her in harm's way is to argue that Roman Polanski was a source of harm—and if this is true then Roman Polanski himself is still far more guilty than Geimer's mother will ever be.

I have heard the argument that, far from being simply neglectful, Samantha Geimer's mother was actually using her in a cynical way. I find this almost impossible to believe, not because I don't think humans are capable of such things (they are) but because the facts in the case don't really lend themselves to that conclusion. There are a few things you should keep in mind: first of all, contrary to some apparent notions, Geimer's mother appears to have had no idea that the photo shoot was a topless one; just before Geimer reported having been raped, her mother and her mother's boyfriend had discovered the topless photos from the first photo shoot Polanski had done with Geimer and were trying to decide what to do about it. Second, the rape was reported not principally by Geimer's mother but by the whole family, precipitated by Geimer's sister, who overheard Geimer telling her boyfriend about what happened over the phone. Third, you may think that all of them are lying, but Samantha Geimer's mother, her boyfriend, Samantha's boyfriend, and her sister all claim that no one had any idea that Polanski was actually alone with Samantha; there was supposed to be another friend along.

I encourage you to read this very revealing interview that Samantha and Larry Silver did with Larry King a few years ago. It describes much better than the grand jury testimony what happened before and after that evening.

You may think all of them are lying, but I suspect you haven't given them a chance. I know it's hard to believe that Roman Polanski did this; many of us have had the unfortunate experience of realizing that someone we trusted and looked up to was guilty of something terrible. But I think it's very important to remember that justice is more important than affection or fondness for someone we look up to.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I'd meant to say: statutory rape, consensual sex with a minor, was a 'big deal back then,' so it seems unlikely that Samantha Geimer's mother would have wanted to stretch the accusation further (even if it was credible to claim that she orchestrated the whole thing.) But by all accounts the victim and her family spent the entire time wishing and praying and pleading with anyone who'd listen to put an end to the whole affair; that's not what someone does when they're trying to be opportunistic.
posted by koeselitz at 8:51 PM on October 1, 2009


First of all, I don't think Polanski is a rapey-rapist. I think he has a demonstrated predilection for teenage girls (witness Kinski, legal at the time or not), and a propensity to take advantage of situations that occur all too commonly in Hollywood and the fashion industry, namely career-making figures screwing and raping young models who are trapped by expectations and a long history of it working that way. It's not about being a serial rapist; it's about partaking fully in a culture where rape is just part of the game.

I will fully admit that your model is POSSIBLE. But in order for your model to explain the data better than the plain reading of the situation (like the grand jury transcripts where the victim said she said 'no' repeatedly, or the fact that Polanski said he knew she was 13), you've had to introduce speculation on your part (she was lying to please the prosecutor; he had to say it as part of the plea deal).

Some are calling for his head on a pike. Most are just wondering why there's any question about extraditing him, why anyone would think he shouldn't be sent back to face a judge.
posted by fatbird at 8:56 PM on October 1, 2009


He knew how old she was and that's why he wanted her.

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”
posted by Danila at 9:21 PM on October 1, 2009


And the undertext seems to be... but most of you will never have the chance, or the nerve, to do it, so you're envious. And that's why I will be crucified.

But his idea of "everyone" is basically all-male, all-heterosexual, all-heteronormative, all-sexually exploitative, etc. - so, actually, not everyone at all. Actually, quite a minority, but the most powerful of minorities - everyone who mattered. The only people worth addressing or considering. At that time.

In light of that kind of statement, it's amazing how much ambivalence I still feel about this issue, since my consistent normal instinct would be "let the crows feast on his liver." I've come to the conclusion that I do think it's his fame and talent which even makes me pause to consider if there is more to evaluate. But once considering, I do think about how different the decades are, and how unlikely that he would do the same thing in the same way in this day and age. And then I think about how he would just do the exact same thing in a different way in this day and age, because he would be skating the law, just as he was then - doing things in whatever places allowed things to be done, even if technically against the law. He wouldn't have raped a child or woman in the U.S. in the mid-1990s and forward, but he might have selected to do it elsewhere. I have no idea.

The ambivalence part comes from the fact that it was really "okay" for people to act in ways that are anathema today, and this has always been true. Before marijuana became a big government concern, nobody cared. Same with pretty much everything; you pick and choose among what is legal, semi-legal, illegal but tolerated, etc. during your life, and it changes. I've wandered just beyond legal boundaries, aware of what the possible consequences might be - but the consequences of 30 years later would have been completely different. I had a full and awesome '80s experience that included no sexual predation or exploitation of anyone, but which certainly included occasional indulgences that were a bit over the legal line then. Today, the legal system could put me away for as long as they wanted, I imagine, for the same sort of thing, if they had a grudge. At the time, there was really no chance that would happen, unless I was Mafia, or a serial killer or similar.

So. I acted in ways then that I wouldn't now. If I wanted to do what I did then, I would still do it, but in a different way. I certainly don't feel that anything I did was harmful in any way to anybody else. But let's imagine that we as a society found that whatever it was I did actively promoted abuse of people somewhere down the line, and that eventually doing what I did became a big crime because of this. Would it be fair to apply the new law of execution or life imprisonment, say, to what I did 25 years ago?

I really don't want to be an apologist for Polanski, because ultimately I think he's a revolting worm, but I do want to share these thoughts as an older person who has witnessed some of the social transformation that has happened since that time.
posted by taz at 5:30 AM on October 2, 2009


Jesus christ. People like localroger are probably a big part of why the victim wants this to be put behind her.
posted by kmz at 6:17 AM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


And smoking pot != rape.
posted by kmz at 6:20 AM on October 2, 2009


I don't think the mother set her daughter up for rape. I don't think rape happened. I think the mother set her daugher up for sex. The daughter was, as we are not supposed to remember because the way it came out was all so wrong, not sexually inexperienced, even though she was 13. I think the plan was that if the guy comes on to you maybe resist a little, but not too much because he can do us a lot of good honey. And I don't think she seriously resisted. People who really are rapey generally don't just do it once.
posted by localroger at 7:48 PM on October 1


Thirteen year-old girls cannot consent to sex with adult men. When adult men have sex with thirteen year-old girls, it's called rape. That is it. End of story. Even in the wild seventies, despite your ridiculous stories of scheming twelve year-old slutty slut slut-girls who had to have it and who tricked all those poor men into having sex them, it was still rape. I don't care what sort of tortured but-maybes you come up with, even if her mother supplied her for sex, Polanski acted both illegally and immorally by supplying her with liquor and sedatives and then raping her vaginally and anally. People are responsible for their actions. Polanski raped a girl and pled guilty to that crime, and then he fled the country. He should serve time. It really is that simple.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:32 AM on October 2, 2009 [10 favorites]


People who really are rapey generally don't just do it once.

People who are really rapey generally don't think of themselves as such.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:21 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


People who really are rapey generally don't just do it once.

Offensive in oh so many ways, but: who says he didn't rape other underage girls? All we know is that he wasn't arrested for raping any. There is evidence that he paid off Nastassia Kinski to prevent legal trouble. Who knows how many other girls were intimidated, embarrassed, paid off or simply crushed in spirit?
posted by msalt at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2009


When adult men have sex with thirteen year-old girls, it's called rape.

At what age does child molestation become statutory rape? Is there an age recognized by the law? This seems more like child molestation to me...not that it can't be both, I guess. I was just wondering what it meant in legal terms.
posted by zerbinetta at 11:34 AM on October 2, 2009


People who really are rapey generally don't just do it once.

You know, I think the idea that rape is only committed by "rapey" serial perverts is one of the big myths that keeps many women (and men who have been abused) from coming forward.

Confession time here, I was sexually assaulted by another boy in my Scout troop. I never reported the crime, and I've only revealed his identity to a few people I know as an adult. I have no interest in a legal case since it's been more than 25 years. I have absolutely no idea, evidence, or indication that he did anything like it to anyone else.

Every time a rape has happened among my social network, I've been deeply shocked and troubled that the rapist was trusted, respected, and an outspoken ally of feminism. I don't know what was going on in the heads of these guys, but I can easily believe that a person who has a sterling reputation can put their advocated moral values on hold for the short time it takes to commit a rape.

Can a guy sexually assault someone and keep his nose and reputation perfectly clean for years? Yes. Can a guy you'd never expect do the wrong thing just one time? Yes. I've seen both happen.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:38 AM on October 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Optimus, we all know how you feel about this, but listen up: The crime to which Polanski pled guilty was not called rape, it did not contain the word rape, it had a totally different (and much less severe) potential sentencing range than rape, which is why the prosecution felt it would add spice to their case to throw in a charge of actual rape.

You may think it should be rape, you might even be right, but in this particular detail of this particular situation you are simply wrong, and your loud insistence on this totally wrong point undermines the rest of your presentation making you look like a reactionary kook.

kmz: Jesus christ. People like localroger are probably a big part of why the victim wants this to be put behind her.

We contrarians and skeptics can be such a pain in the ass.
posted by localroger at 1:22 PM on October 2, 2009


I struggle to see how asserting that Polanski's legal fate needs to be determined by the legal system with his rights and obligations as a defendant and convicted criminal affirmed is equivalent to pitchforks and torches. As far as I can tell, no one is advocating mob justice. What people are advocating is the continuation of a process in which Polanski's rights, including the right to file for dismissal on the basis of judicial misconduct, are respected.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:11 PM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, did I make the right decision.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:34 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bookhouse wins the thread! He said so, so it must be true.
posted by localroger at 5:42 PM on October 2, 2009


So really, Roger, the issue is that you are utterly, totally cynical about the justice system, and automatically disbelieve whatever it produces.
posted by fatbird at 5:42 PM on October 2, 2009


fatbird: yes.
posted by localroger at 5:47 PM on October 2, 2009


I suppose I should clarify that. I don't assume any product of the justice system must be false. Sometimes it does work. But it is a machine made up of people many of whom are incompetent or even outright evil -- I have seen both -- and the mere fact that an assertion emerges as a product of the justice system is no more evidence that it as true than that it came from any other random source. It must be cross-checked, and part of the problem in the Polanski case is obviously that it wasn't and can't be checked.
posted by localroger at 5:53 PM on October 2, 2009


[few comments removed - please come back later. this is totally not okay. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:36 PM on October 2, 2009


Except that it can be checked. Polanski could have gone to trial and contested the charges, exercising his rights to cross-examine the victim and petition for exclusion of mishandled evidence. And given that Polanski was given unprecedented privilege while he was a defendant, I don't think his lawyers were incompetent or impotent.

But, he chase to wave those rights when he entered a guilty plea. And then practically waved any expectation of leniency when he fled the court. And now that he has a judge open to the possibility of a dismissal or mistrial, he has every opportunity to defend himself now.

But he needs to appear before the court and meet his obligations as a defendant if he wants to claim those rights.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:43 PM on October 2, 2009


The check and balance against the coaching of witnesses is cross-examination on the record by parties who have been given equal access to all the evidence relevant to the case. It's certainly a slight bit better than convicting the witness of an extortion conspiracy here on metafilter.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:56 PM on October 2, 2009


Kirk: Except that it can be checked.

No, it can't, because...

Polanski could have gone to trial

But he didn't. That's why it can't be checked. I'm not saying it couldn't have been checked in some alternate universe where Polanski didn't run; I'm saying that here, in this universe, with what we know today, it can't be checked.

Now if Polanski returns some checking might be done, but much of the origianl information will still have been lost. And the new process will be tainted by the whole abscondance thing. But it would probably be a good thing, overall, if he did. There is a LOT to be answered for here, and not least of all by Polanski.
posted by localroger at 6:56 PM on October 2, 2009


Kirk: There is no cross-examination on a grand jury. The grand jury is run by the prosecutor. You don't even have fifth amendment rights before a grand jury because it "doesn't count." It doesn't have to be fair because the result isn't a conviction, it's just a trial which in its turn is supposed to be fair. Published grand jury testimony should never be trusted.

We do not have actual trial testimony about Polanski's actions, we have only grand jury testimony. While both are under oath the process is very different, and grand jury testimony is much more suspect.
posted by localroger at 7:00 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: [few comments removed - please come back later. this is totally not okay. thank you.]

Wow, I feel like I have won the Hitler lookalike contest.
posted by localroger at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2009


I just realized fatbird's comment asking if I was so cynical that I just totally distrust the American judicial system was one of the ones jessamyn nuked. I don't think that commnent was out of bounds and I want to clarify that the question I answered "yes" to was that. I am extremely cynical about American justice having seen it close at hand too many times to ever find it trustworthy. While it is not guaranteed to give a wrong result I feel it is hardly better equipped to give a right one than a roulette wheel. And that opinion is the end result of living in both rich and poor areas, as both a wealthy "in" and potentially sketchy character myself.
posted by localroger at 7:18 PM on October 2, 2009


localroger: You can't complain that Polanski was denied a right he voluntarily waved, under the advice of extremely well-informed and competent legal counsel.

But it only needs to be checked now if there is a finding on purely procedural grounds to declare the case a mistrial. And if that happens, the case probably will end up dismissed as the primary witness probably won't testify, for reasons that are perfectly reasonable and almost certainly innocent. Pending a declaration of a mistrial, Polanski is guilty of a sexual offense against a minor.

And yes, I know the difference between grand jury and trial jury testimony, thank you very much. The fact remains that Polanski had both the right and opportunity to challenge all of the evidence and statements made in the prosecution's case. He chose to wave that right hoping for a slap on the wrist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:20 PM on October 2, 2009


There is a huge leap from, "American justice is dismally flawed" to "American justice is dismally flawed, therefore the victim in this case almost certainly was a willing participant in an extortion scheme set up by her mother."

It's a huge leap from, "Roman Polanski had a case for reasonable doubt" (ignoring of course that he waved his right to make than argument) to "Roman Polanski was framed by a willing and malicious victim."

The latter two positions strike me as batshit crazy, and require a double-standard in which we give reasonable benefit of the doubt to Polanski, but not his accuser.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2009


Kirk: You have an "almost certainly" in there where I'd probably put something more like "greater likelihood." You also have a therefore in there where I wouldn't have put it. I'd say, the justice system is deeply flawed, so we must be extremely skeptical of anything it produces. (Look at the Project Innocence results for rape convictions if you don't believe this.) My conclusion is that the possibility that it was all set up by the mother is JUST AS BELIEVABLE as the alternate. That's not a preference. I've tried to be as clear as I can on that. With regard to the victim's preference that it be buried, I also think it's just as believable that she is worried about the setup being revealed as she is bothered by "people like me."

But we do not know what happened here. The key words there are "do not know." We do not know whether Polanski is a rapey rapist, or just a child fondler gone amuck, or an innocent victim of a grift scam. The whole point of the do not know thing there is that WE DO NOT KNOW. The truth could go either way, and suggesting that it could go for Polanski is not equivalent to saying the girl is a slut and asked for it. That is, however, within a range of possiblities and totally excluding it as a possibility would be stupid; as far as I am concerned totally excluding that possibility would make justice just as impossible as it would be if we excluded the possibility that the man could be at fault.

I have seen nothing but crap from the US justice system personally. It takes every fiber of fairness I can muster to admit that it is not always flawed, that it can be something other than a judicial hammer to be used by the rich and powerful to bury the poor and unschooled. I must admit that while it is a very flawed institution it does do some good and can possibly be saved from becoming a tool of fascism. But it has been deeply flawed for a long time, and we are not on the path to fixing it; we are rather on the path to making it an ever more perfect tool of subjugation. And given that, it's hard for me not to cheer for anyone who gives the whole damn thing a middle finger salute.
posted by localroger at 7:58 PM on October 2, 2009


Hey, you know what? You know how you keep pissing and moaning that he wasn't convicted of rape, but of something else entirely? And you know how you keep pissing and moaning that he didn't actually have a normal trial? If he had gone through a normal trial, he probably would have been convicted of rape. He plead guilty in order to get a lower charge that wasn't rape. But in the same way that Bush didn't win the election in 200 but then he totally "did", Polanski totally did rape a girl but then he "didn't".

And you know what we do know? We know that Polanski did something untoward with a girl. We know that he plead guilty to doing something untoward with a girl. We know that he fled the country afterwards, which is the wrong thing to do.

I am sorry that you have had bad experiences with the justice system. I am not sure that this is so, but in my heart of hearts I feel that on the whole it is a good thing rather than a bad thing. It is certainly better than not locking up anybody, ever, and it is much, much better than having some random individual capriciously choose how a person is judged and punished. Even if you do get the odd bad judge here and there, on the whole most the justice system follows the rules, and when they don't there are other, stronger rules that punish them. Yes, things fall through the cracks; that always happens.

But this is not an argument about whether Polanski did or didn't. He plead guilty to something, and then he fled the country. That's not an acceptable thing to do, and he should pay for it.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:43 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The truth could go either way

This is getting ridiculous. The odds are not 50/50. We have heaps of evidence.
posted by Justinian at 12:48 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


The truth could go either way, and suggesting that it could go for Polanski is not equivalent to saying the girl is a slut and asked for it. That is, however, within a range of possiblities and totally excluding it as a possibility would be stupid;

And right here is where you lost the argument completely by suggesting that it is even *possible* for a 13-year-old girl to be a "slut" who is "asking for it."

That has to be one of the most abhorrent things I've ever seen posited on MetaFilter. Congratulations for reaching a new rhetorical low, even for a thread as contentious as this one.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:53 AM on October 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


And right here is where you lost the argument completely by suggesting that it is even *possible* for a 13-year-old girl to be a "slut" who is "asking for it."

The naivete, it is breathtaking in its splendor. Have a nice iday.
posted by localroger at 7:39 AM on October 3, 2009


The misogyny, it is nauseating in its callousness. I'd wish you a nice day, but I wonder if it's even possible for someone with your worldview.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:52 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just realized fatbird's comment ... was one of the ones jessamyn nuked. I don't think that commnent was out of bounds and I want to clarify that the question I answered "yes" to was that.

I asked Jessamyn to review it, and she restored my comment. See? I won on appeal rather than fleeing :)
posted by fatbird at 8:35 AM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


You should have seen what that newborn was wearing, officer. No court in the land would convict me (at least not until I've had the chance to skip the country).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Localroger, even if a 13 year-old girl is, somehow, in your twisted make-believe world, a "slut who is asking for it," it is still the moral and legal responsibility of grown men to resist their advances and not give them liquor and sedatives and then have vaginal and anal sex with them. I don't know why you disagree, and I don't think I want to know.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:15 AM on October 3, 2009


But Optimus, despite both the victim and the perpetrator agreeing on what happened, he doesn't believe them, remember?

Make up whatever you want!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2009


We contrarians and skeptics can be such a pain in the ass.

You are claiming publicly that a 13 year old girl you've never met is probably lying about being raped, because you say that you knew a young slut once. That's not contrarian, that's asshole.

Wait a minute -- pain in the ass? Maybe you're saying that you're that you're an anal rapist too, like your boy Polanski. (We don't know, but it's JUST AS LIKELY). Now everything makes sense. (like you saying maybe he's "just a child fondler gone amuck.)
posted by msalt at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2009


In my twisted make-believe world, ordinary people are capable of great evil. Regular people are capable of putting their ex-neighbors in ovens, giving them showers of rat poison, flying airplanes into buildings, torturing them to extract false confessions, hacking them apart with machetes, and turning away the would-be rescuers at gunpoint when their neighbors are drowning after the levees break. As fatbird realized, I am an extremely cynical person. I am probably far more cynical than you can even imagine.

To me, the crazy thing is making an assertion like "no girl that age could possibly ask for it." To me it's crazy because I knew such a girl, a girl who bragged about her adolescent sexual conquests. She might be the only girl in the world like that but she still represents a nonzero sample size. So to say I lost the argument because I said such people exist -- well, right.

I said in a comment above that I don't think the best of Polanski, I think the worst of everybody. That is my explanation. Is Polanski a dark motherfucker with a secret the size of Montana? Probably so. In my experience that makes him not a monster, but normal. Monsters are the people who kill people, preferably by the dozens. There are way more of those people than you realize and our world makes more of them all the time.

I was just talking to someone about the fact that Thursday's edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper had, dominating the news and above the fold, in one inch headlines, the awesome news that CAT TOSSER IS SOUGHT BY POLICE. That would be the guy who tossed two kittens out of his minivan around the middle of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge. The day after a typhoon and earthquake struck the south Pacific, with thousands dead, this was considered the lead news item.

And people wonder at my cynicism. When the space aliens come the most embarrassing thing will be admitting that I'm human too.

In my first participation here, after giving Matt my shiny five dollar bill, I made what I thought was a pretty innocent and bland assertion that most of the actual soldiers on the Confederate side of the Civil War weren't fighting for slavery but to defend their homes. Oh my lawdy, you would have thought I'd put in a bid for a slave mah-self. It had not occurred to me that this idea (which is pretty mainstream in historical circles) would produce such assertions that I am a horrible racist scumbag, but there it was.

So now because a chain of events that is nothing but theoretical to those of us who are not participants does not pass my admittedly very cynical smell test, I'm an abhorrent rape-loving sexual predator too. Lovely.

Fortunately, my cynicism extends to understanding this as well. The hobby I referred to in a prior post is an ongoing exploration of the darkness at the core of human nature. I think that we are all -- men and women, adults and children alike -- capable of great evil. That might just be my kink; just as Polanski thinks everyone wants young girls (fails to explain why I have remained monogamously committed to and married a woman 6 years older than me for the last 25 years) I think everyone has darkness in their hearts, a darkness we mostly overcome but which is there and capable of surfacing in all of us under the right conditions.

Such as a good old-fashioned witch hunt.

Like I said before, have a nice day.
posted by localroger at 12:02 PM on October 3, 2009


"There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking."
posted by zerbinetta at 12:30 PM on October 3, 2009


As fatbird realized, I am an extremely cynical person. I am probably far more cynical than you can even imagine.

The problem with your participation in this thread, Roger, is that you're the definition of a special pleader. You're arguing from your cynicism, which we have no way to engage since it ultimately comes from your experiences (i.e., anecdotes that aren't data) and mindset. There's no convincing you without first dismantling your cynicism. Likewise, there's no convincing us without convincing us to be similarly cynical.

Your position is a-rational, and not really subject to any debate except rhetorical bomb-tossing.
posted by fatbird at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2009


So now because a chain of events that is nothing but theoretical to those of us who are not participants does not pass my admittedly very cynical smell test, I'm an abhorrent rape-loving sexual predator too.

Now you're the victim, not the 13 year old girl or even Polanski. How predictable.
posted by msalt at 1:12 PM on October 3, 2009


Jesus christ. People like localroger are probably a big part of why the victim wants this to be put behind her.
posted by kmz at 8:17 AM on October 2


Remember that localroger has been trolling /. and kuro5hin for years now, and has quite a lot of experience in being a seriously offensive troll at that. Sites such as this would benefit greatly with a user-specified killfile (like the good old days of the usenet) so less of you would get drawn in by his neverending spout of merde.
posted by CountSpatula at 1:12 PM on October 3, 2009


I think that we are all -- men and women, adults and children alike -- capable of great evil.

but not all of us are capable of rationalizing it

So now because a chain of events that is nothing but theoretical to those of us who are not participants does not pass my admittedly very cynical smell test, I'm an abhorrent rape-loving sexual predator too.

well, you did yourself say that everyone is capable of great evil - if you aren't going to except a 13 year old girl, i can't see why anyone should except YOU

if you're going to be cynical about it i don't see why we can't be cynical about you

if people have no basis to object to your comments about that girl, you have no basis to object to comments made about you

i can't even understand why you'd think you'd be some kind of exception to your own brand of corrosive cynicism, but obviously you do, or you wouldn't object
posted by pyramid termite at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2009


Oh, and now I'm a well-known K5 and /. troll.

pyramid termite, we are all capable of rationalizing it. If more of us did, there would be a lot less evil in the world.
posted by localroger at 2:23 PM on October 3, 2009


fatbird: You make a good point. I proudly call myself a contrarian. I doubt everything. You correctly run out one possible result of that.

Thank you for having an agreeable disagreement with me on this. You have given me much to think about.

And thanks to jessamyn for unhiding fatbird's other comment.
posted by localroger at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2009


after fuming for a few minutes...

pyramid termite, if I cared what people thought about me I would never have published The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect online. Me and my friend Jack Daniel had a long, hard think before I did that, and the end result was that I decided that what a bunch of random peple on the internet think about me doesn't matter that much. That's true here too. Have a nice day.
posted by localroger at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2009


To me, the crazy thing is making an assertion like "no girl that age could possibly ask for it." To me it's crazy because I knew such a girl, a girl who bragged about her adolescent sexual conquests.

Localroger, even if a 13 year-old girl is, somehow, in your twisted make-believe world, a "slut who is asking for it," it is still the moral and legal responsibility of grown men to resist their advances and not give them liquor and sedatives and then have vaginal and anal sex with them. I don't know why you disagree, and I don't think I want to know.

We can keep doing this if you want.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:56 PM on October 3, 2009


after fuming for a few minutes...

and then ...

what a bunch of random peple on the internet think about me doesn't matter that much

he says, fuming

you want it both ways - you want to go on and on about what you surmise as if it mattered, and then you say what people think about you doesn't matter - you call us random as if you aren't random - you say you don't care, but you fume anyway - and why? - because i dare point out your inconsistency here

whatever
posted by pyramid termite at 3:01 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite, why do YOU care so much? That's what I find really interesting.
posted by localroger at 3:35 PM on October 3, 2009


Why do YOU care WHY pyramid termite CARES?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:46 PM on October 3, 2009


Why do YOU care WHY localroger cares WHY pyramid termite CARES?

Shouldn't we all have pistols pointed at each other?
posted by mazola at 6:58 PM on October 3, 2009


*backs away slowly*
posted by stinkycheese at 7:07 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great, I thought I was a character in a Roman Polanski movie and it turns out I'm a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Who did QT rape again?
posted by localroger at 8:51 PM on October 3, 2009


Every director since Cecil B. DeMille.
posted by fatbird at 9:27 PM on October 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


The petition itself is a little weird. The point seems to be that film festivals should have the same sanctuary status as, say, churches (commentary superfluous on that point.) And that neutral counties should not have extradition treaties. And that Friends Don't Prosecute Friends.

The events of the case itself are delicately referred to as "a case of morals" ("une affaire de mœurs"), then passed on by - which suggests a touch a distaste with looking too carefully at the whole thing.

Legal niceties aside, what strikes me more than anything is just how many people were, are, willing to overlook what at the very least was sleazoid behavior. Granted, I'm a bit of prig, but I wouldn't want to shake hands with a guy like that, never mind employ him or work under his employ, or give him awards. Dreyfus, he ain't.

Takes all kinds, I guess.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:35 PM on October 4, 2009


I guess you could possibly make the case that drugging and raping a child is somehow tangentially related to morality. Kind of.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:18 PM on October 4, 2009


I'm giving signers of the petition a tiny bit of benefit of the doubt given how his defenders have successfully astroturfed the heck out of that community, and the petition muddles a mess of issues to hang onto the whole Polanski case.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:44 PM on October 4, 2009


Roman Polanski refused bail by Switzerland

It must suck not having your protestations heard and being forced to do things you don't want to do.
posted by mazola at 7:26 AM on October 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


"Flight risk? Me?"
posted by Joe Beese at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2009


What Whoopi Goldberg ('Not a Rape-Rape'), Harvey Weinstein ('So-Called Crime') et al. Are Saying in Their Outrage Over the Arrest of Roman Polanski

Deadline Poet
By Calvin Trillin

A youthful error? Yes, perhaps.
But he's been punished for this lapse--
For decades exiled from LA
He knows, as he wakes up each day,
He'll miss the movers and the shakers.
He'll never get to see the Lakers.
For just one old and small mischance,
He has to live in Paris, France.
He's suffered slurs and other stuff.
Has he not suffered quite enough?
How can these people get so riled?
He only raped a single child.

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
This man is brilliant, that's for sure--
Authentically, a film auteur.
He gets awards that are his due.
He knows important people, too--
Important people just like us.
And we know how to make a fuss.
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people's rules.
So Roman's banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl
posted by readery at 7:13 PM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sarkozy says: "But I add that it is not a good administration of justice to do this 32 years after the facts when the person concerned is today 76-years-old." WTF! I don't know where to begin. Does he mean that's it is too long ago? If so, is he saying that if you evade justice for long enough that the matter should be dropped? Is he also saying that Polanski is too old to be brought to justice? If so, at what age can you commit crimes and not be prosecuted? Is he really saying that 'good administration of justice' is time dependent? Time discovers truth.
posted by tellurian at 5:50 PM on October 15, 2009


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