Monday, 28 September 2009

Quick hit: Polanski arrested in Switzerland, three guesses why...

From AP, via the Herald, this morning:
Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police as he flew in for the Zurich Film Festival and faces possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities have said.

Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said US authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.

"There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. "That's why he was taken into custody."

Polanski, the director of such classic films as "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," fled the US in 1978, a year after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the underage girl.

Polanski has asked a US appeals court in California to overturn a judges' refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it.

His victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

Balmer, the Swiss spokesman, said the US would now have to make a formal extradition request. A US Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington declined to comment on the case Sunday.
Click through for the rest of the article.

So let me get this straight. Polanski rapes a 13 year old in 1977, flees the country to avoid the consequences, and has been evading arrest ever since. I heard someone from the international film community on the radio saying he couldn't understand why Polanski had been arrested as he had just made a tiny mistake 30 years ago and so many millions of people loved his films. I just cannot understand that mindset.


George said...

And the usual "child sex charges". He was arrested on "child rape charges".

The willful blindness of people hasn't surprised me, after the Michael Jackson outpourings of the last year. People will almost always cover for someone if they think they're a 'good person'.

George said...

And he has a house in Switzerland. Why they chose to let him walk free for years and then arrest him now is a mystery to me.

Psycho Milt said...

Samantha Geimer ... has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

Looks like it's not just the international film community that doesn't see why they're still chasing him.

Boganette said...

She has also said she wishes he'd come back to the US so she could put the attack behind her.

(Instead of running away and not facing up to the fact that he raped a 13-year-old girl after drugging her.)

Julie said...

Ye gads it must be the end of the world because David Farrar agrees with me on this!

I imagine if I was raped as a 13 yo I'd be quite keen for it to no longer be dragged through the media every few months too.

Julie said...

Sorry, missed a bit off the end of my last comment:

for the next three decades.

George said...

Julie, fortunately most people won't defend the rape of a child. Of that I'm glad. If the girl had been 17 at the time though, and suffered the same events, I wouldn't count on any solidarity from those quarters.

A Nonny Moose said...

Oh fan-fcuking-tastic. The Herald has a "Your Views" question about whether Polanski should have been extradited.

Can't wait for the rape apologist Herald bigoted demograph to leap in to this one.

Brett Dale said...

Dont you know the golden rule.

If your famous you can break any law, and even if your crime is child rape, that doesn't matter either, because your famous!

What a wonderful message to the youth of the world.

stargazer said...

and kate harding nails it again (hat tip to tigtog at hoydens).

George said...

I was just going to link to that Salon piece. It says exactly what needs to be said.

A Nonny Moose said...

Melissa at Shakesville also rocks with this post:

Also, the petition from Hollywood is sickening. So many great actors and actresses defending this scumbag.

stargazer said...

yes, so sad - matin scorcese, sam mendes, whoopi goldberg, jeremy irons, natalie portman etc etc. i've already pretty much given up on bollywood, now i feel like i don't want to be watching any more hollywood stuff either.

Anonymous said...

It has been decades since the original case. The media, the judge, and the legal system has caused a great deal of ongoing trauma for the victim (who is now in her 40s(?), married and with children). She has said a number of times that she wants people to let this case go, and focus on other things.

I think they should let "sleeping dogs lie" in this case, if only for the sake of the victim.

She has been utterly failed by the original judge, by the legal system, and by the media.

At the time of the first trial they did a plea deal in the hopes that the victim could remain anonymous. Polanski agreed to plead guilty to the smallest charge, statutory rape, in exchange for the dropping of the 'actual' rape charges. He was told that his sentence would be to serve about 40 days at a detention centre, and no longer. The victim, her family, Polanski, and the trial judge all agreed to this sentence.

The judge enjoyed the publicity and the kudos of being the judge of a trial involving such a famous person as Polanski. The judge did some stupid and foolish things, enjoying the publicity and not caring at all for the victim. The judge was overheard telling someone in a pub that he would make sure that Polanski was jailed for life. Polanski heard about this, got terrified, and fled. If the judge had not thrown around comments like that it is probably that Polansk would have served the agreed-upon 40 day sentence and the victim would have remained anonymous. Instead, Polanski got scared mistrusted the legal system. Polanksi fled (wrongly), the victim was named by the media, and everything related to the case has been an absolute nightmare for the victim ever since.

Polanksi should absolutely have served his time. But the failure of the original judge (and the legal system, and the media in naming the victim) means that now neither the victim nor Polanski has any faith in the legal system anymore. The victim is the important person in all of this. She does not trust the legal system anymore. She was assured of her anonymity, and she was assured that the plea deal and sentencing agreement would be enforced. None of this happened. How is she to trust the legal system now, 30-odd years later? She just wants the whole thing laid to rest already.

I just hope that in arresting Polanski now (30 years later) the authorities have the best interests of the victim in mind. I don't think that they do. Drawing the victim reluctantly back into this legal (and very public) mess will be very traumatic for her, and for her husband and children. It will also be traumatic for Roman Polanski's wife and children.

Anonymous said...

I think rearresting Roman Polanski 30 years after his crime will be very traumatic for the victim and for her husband and children. She has said many times that she wants the whole thing laid to rest. The judicial system messed up in the original trial (particularly the judge). Reopening the case now, however, in my opinion will do more harm than good for the victim.

What really disturbs me is how many people are defending Polanski, somehow concluding that because "He has done some amazing films" therefore "he should not be held accountable for his crime". Or, "he has had a really tough childhood and life" therefore "he shouldn't be held accountable for his crime".

When Polanski was in his 40's he gaves sedatives and drugs to a 13-year old girl and then raped her (or 'had sex' with her vaginally, orally and annally). According to her, she politely phsyically and verbally resisted his advances, and the subsequent 'sex'.

I think it is pointless and harmful to the victim to re-arrest Polanski now, these 30 years later, against the victim's wishes.

HOWEVER I have no sympathy for Roman Polanksi himself right now. He deserves to be arrested. He broke the law (by running away before serving a sentence for something he pled guilty to and has never denied doing). He deserves to be held accountable. My only problem with the arrest of Polanski is that I think this will harm the victim and her family. I think it will do more harm than good.

stargazer said...

both anons above, i'd strongly suggest you read the shakesville a couple of comments before yours. it deals with the issues you've raised quite a lot better than i'd ever be able to. in a nutshell, the justice system exists for the community, and if the victim continues to face undue publicity about this case, the fault lies squarely at the feet of mr polanski. his refusal to face up to the american justice system and his continual playing of the victim card is the reason she continues to suffer as she does. had he faced his sentencing 30 years ago, the case would have died quietly and she could have gotten on with her life.

even now, he could make it easier for her by not fighting extradition charges and quietly accepting his sentence like many other criminals do.

Hugh said...

Wait stargazer, when you say 'the justice system exists for the community', you mean as opposed to for the victim?

Because that's not an attitude I'd have thought you'd have endorsed, particularly based on your previously expressed views about the correct way to conduct court cases.

stargazer said...

in this case mr polanski has already plead guilty, so there is only the matter of sentencing on the original charge and not a full trial. there should also be and is likely to be a case for him against him for fleeing the country, but that is a different matter.

in terms of sentencing, should we be following exactly what the victim wants? what if she wanted him to be hung, drawn and quartered? what if she wanted a life sentence? i doubt then that so many people would have been concerned with what she wanted.

when it comes to a trial, i don't think it serves the community to have the victim defamed, particularly if she happens to be dead and can't defend herself. i still think some standard of proof should be required.

as regards taking cases to trial without the victim's consent, that already happens in many cases and particularly in domestic violence cases.

Hugh said...

Yes stargazer, it's true that in practice courts tend to ignore the wishes of victims - both victims who want draconian sentences, and victims who want cases dropped. But... so what?

I'm asking you a question about your views. Pointing out what the current practice is tells me nothing about your views, just the views of those who set up and maintain the system.