The Case of Roman Polanski

September 30, 2009

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Director Roman Polanski was arrested on September 27th during a trip to the Zurich film festival, where he was to be given a lifetime achievement award for his work.  The United States will attempt to extradite him in relation to the rape of a 13 year old girl in 1977.

The prosecution alleges that Polanski gave the girl champagne and a partial Quaalude after a photo shoot and then had sex with her.  Clearly, this was wrong, and I won’t attempt to convince you otherwise.

However, I do believe that it is time to drop the case against Polanski.

Polanski plead guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.  After serving 42 days in prison undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, Polanski expected to be sentenced to time served and probation, per the terms of his plea deal.  When the judge told Polanski’s attorneys that he would send Polanski to prison and have him deported – contrary to the plea deal – Polanski fled to France, where he has resided for the last 30 years.

Judges do have the right to overrule plea agreements if they feel that they are not a fair resolution to the case.  Many times, I would be OK with this.  However, in this particular case, the victim of the crime has repeatedly stated her opposition to the judge’s intentions, and has even filed paperwork asking that the case be dropped.  Bear in mind that the victim is no longer a fragile 13 year old girl, but a 45 year old woman.  She has had 32 years to think about this and form an opinion – this is not some off-the-cuff comment.  If she wants the case dropped, perhaps we should listen to her.  I do not believe her statements are financially motivated – she reached a financial settlement with Polanski decades ago.

So, then whose interest is the district attorney representing?  Certainly not the victim’s, since she wants the case dropped.  Perhaps you could make the case that he is representing society, to make sure that Polanksi does not reoffend.  However, this appears a bit unlikely at this stage in Polanski’s life.  I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but I’d be very surprised to see this.

Polanski has lived a life with incredible peaks and valleys.  He grew up in Poland and was sent to the Krakow Ghetto by the Nazis during World War II.  Both of his parents were sent to concentration camps; his mother died in Auschwitz.

In 1969, his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was savagely murdered by members of the notorious Manson Family as part of a slaughter at Polanski’s home (Polanski himself was out of town at the time of the murders).  Tate was stabbed sixteen times as she was held down and begged for her assailants to spare her life and the life of the unborn child.

In the midst of this tragedy, he has woven together a masterful career.  Polanski is the director of Oscar winning films Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Tess, and The Pianist, as well as many other critically acclaimed movies.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan Kline
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 09:28:44

    I’m a bit torn on this one. It does seem pointless in a way to go after him. As you say, who benefits from this? At the same time, I can see the DA thinking that we can’t set an example where people think that all they need to do is skip bail for long enough, and they can avoid a sentence. As I understand it, this case also has some interesting questions about judicial impropriety surrounding the original judge.
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  2. Patti
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 13:36:18

    I don’t care that he’s had a ‘hard’ life with the death of his mother in the concentration camp or the murder of his wife at the hands of the Manson gang or whatever life has thrown at him.

    This man is a child molester/rapist/sodomite/scum/coward. He drugged his victim before he abused her, his intent was clearly there. So the victim forgives him and wants the case dropped? Clearly she’s still in victim mode. If that were her daughter in her place, would she feel the same? He must have paid a hefty financial settlement because she’s acting like a whore. Money is the great panacea.

    And so what about the critically acclaimed movies he’s made. All rubbish if you ask me.

    Send this scum to jail. He did the crime, let him do the time. Lock him up.


  3. kosmo
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 13:44:29

    If it wasn’t for the judicial conduct, I would likely have a much different opinion. I’m just not a fan of having judges overreaching their responsilities, and I feel that this is what happened in this particular case. If Polanski made a good faith deal with the DA, I feel that the judge should have honored the deal. If judges were to make a habit of doing this, what would be the point of a plea bargain?

    (And that leads us down the path of whether or not plea bargains are a good thing or not. I feel that they do serve two purposes – allowing cases to be handled more efficiently, and also eliminating the risk of a not guilty verdict).


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