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Is Roman Polanski worth the fight?

Roman Polanski, Samantha Geimer, Steve Cooley, extradition, Zurich film festival

Los Angeles prosecutors are giving famed film director and convicted child molester Roman Polanski a chance to spend more of his millions on criminal defense lawyers. Swiss gendarmes served an arrest warrant on Polanski on Saturday at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, which in turn had been acting at the request of L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. The warrant stems from Polanski's guilty plea to having unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 -- a downgrade from the initial allegation that he drugged and raped an aspiring 13-year-old model. That's a bit young, even for sophisticated European men of a certain age. Polanski fled before he could be sentenced in 1978, after Superior Court Judge Lawrence Rittenband refused at the last minute to go along with the plea deal, which did not call for Polanski to receive any more prison time than the 42 days he'd already spent there. Since then, he's been hiding in plain sight in France -- a country that refused to honor U.S. extradition requests -- and other countries in Europe. He will fight efforts to extradite him from Switzerland, his lawyer said today.

During Polanski's exile, his victim sued him, collected a settlement and publicly offered her forgiveness. Some folks think county prosecutors should do the same. What about you?

Photo: A show of support for director Roman Polanski at the Zurich Film Festival, where the director had gone to receive an award. His arrest canceled that appearance. Credit: Ennio Leanza / EPA

-- Jon Healey

 

Comments () | Archives (108)

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Lloyd

Mr. Polanski did a bad thing and he could not trust the judge at that time so he fled, however he should have resolved this issue a long time ago. Looking at an analyst talking about the case this morning, the young woman received a settlement in a civil suit so---let this be and let's get on with our lives.

How dare the Swiss do this to this poor man who has been through a lot with the death of his gorgeous wife years ago, and his mistake that he did to this young woman but we all make mistakes and we eventually go forward. It is time for the DA to let this go and let Mr. Polanski get on with his life, enough already.

Paul

He's made a mockery of the system by evading arrest for all these years, just because he's rich and famous. Let him stand trial for what he did.

Enough already

The legendary scofflaw needs to transcend his perpetual adolescence once and for all.

And the Los Angeles DA can finally get one of their men.

Jerry Martinez

Why should Polanki be above the law when most people would without fanfare be prosecuted under the law under similar circumstances? There is too much unequaled application of the laws when it comes to celebrity and those who have and those who have not already. Polanki prosecution is a step in the right direction of equal justice for all.

Katharine Saavedra

The horrific tragedies in Mr. Polanski's life have no relevance what so ever to the matter at hand. One can not help wondering where all this compassion for a man with, admittedly, true horrors in his past goes when the individual in question is poor or black or both.

Mr Polanski fled sentencing. Let's please not forget that that is crime in and of itself. His money and fame have allowed him to live what by all accounts is an enviable lifestyle. Somehow I am missing the part where he payed the price for any of his illegal actions.

Oh wait, no I'm not. He hasn't.

Christopher W.

Gee, Lloyd, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Polanski has been getting on with his life, for 31 years! How many "mistakes" have you made with children?

This has dragged on this long because he fled before he could be sentenced, not because the D.A.'s office has some axe to grind - they have a obligation to work this to its completion (and they should.) He plead guilty, but fled like a coward when it came time to facing the consequences for his deeds.

lola

He drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year old girl then fled. That was not a "mistake". 13-years old!! He should be extradited and prosecuted. Anyone else would be; that fact that his "hard life" and fame is being used as a tool to try to get him off the hook is outrageous. Any other person who did this would be considered a pedophile.

I would love to see the Hollywood celebrities who have painfully spoken out about being sexually molested themselves as children call for Polanski's extradition and prosecution. To do anything else, including sit silently while he attempts to get away with this one more time, is hypocritical.

Richard Ivey

The victim was an ambitious young teen whose mother wanted her in the movies at any cost. The grand jury transcript shows she lied to her mother but she didn't lie to the grand jury? Later at the plea bargain the judge lied to everyone. Then we find out that the wartime Germans had murdered Polanski's mother and Charles Manson's gang had murdered Polanski's pregnant wife. Is this all just another Hollywood movie or is it just surreal?

Chris

If the reports are true--as well as the column by the victim--he gave a Quaalude to a 13-year-old and then had sex with her. That is not an "underage" victim; it is not even a borderline offense. That is child molesting, pure and simple. If she were 18, it would be date rape--and still a crime.

The judge was going to reject the plea deal? Bummer. It happens frequently in state and federal courts to accuseds without the resources (and disregard of the law) to flee. The option then is to withdraw your plea and then go to trial. You do NOT have the option to flee the country, become beloved by the French, and then claim--through your well-paid mouthpieces--persecution.

Also, for all those clamoring to defend him now, a word of warning: Make sure you believe this was a one-time thing. Whatever the merits of your current defenses of Polanski, you are going to look mighty foolish if other victims come out of the woodwork. Ask yourselves: Do you really believe that someone who drugged a 13-year-old and then had sex with her only did it once?

tgefilms

Why are some people portraying Polanski as a victim here? He raped and forcibly sodomized a 13 year old girl and has never atoned for, nor expressed remorse for, his crime. He's lived the last 32 years in comfort and luxury. Let him face justice.

Patricia

I don't understand why anyone but the victim has a right to justice here. The crime happened to her, not to anyone else.

And by the way -- not putting him in prison is not at all the same thing as condoning what he did.

True, nobody is above the law -- but the law is supposed to be about protecting the victim, not about grinding axes for the bystanders.

GNSS

I wonder how many people would let Mr Polanski go if it had been their daughter or sister. He should get what any other person of his age that has sex with a minor gets. No more and no less.

Dave

While I do think it is a tough call, I believe Mr. Polanski should be extradited. We should let the passage of time permit anyone from avoiding sentencing. Additonally, the only reason he has avoided jail time is the fact that he is famous and wealthy.

James Doocy

If Polanski was any other shmuck seducing 13 year-olds, the French would have returned him years ago. But being an "artiste" in France gives him a pass? They're the hipocrites, not us.

Steve

Let's go about this logically. Answer the questions below:
(1) If you give alcohol and Quaalude to a 13-year-old girl, then have sex with her against her will, is that a crime?
(2) If it is a crime, what is the proper punishment: probation or jail?
(3) Is there anything special about Roman Polanski that would qualify him for less than the punishment we have given priests who molested children?
(4) He fled and successfully avoided punishment for many years. Should this affect whether he should be punished?

NotThat OJ

Los Angelenos KILL me.

JUSTICE JUSTICE JUSTICE!!! you all cry.

Does anyone commenting here or reading this realize that Los Angeles County abetted in the murder of 32 children in their care in 2008 and are on pace to match that record for 2009?

Will the D.A. follow the ones responsible to the ends of the Earth to seek justice for those dead children? He won't have to go far - the reprehensible guilty parties are all right next door at the DCFS offices on 4th street.

It won't get his name in the Times, but obviously the county can afford it, right??? No one is above the law, right????

Priorities, people. PLEASE. Sanity, for crissakes.

frank

Llyod-it's sounds as if you like this worthless creep. I bet you if some poor bastard that has no cash not well known but did this horrific crime to a 13 year old and fled to let say "Mexico" your opinion would be a lot different. I say get this guy back here, boycott his movies and get him in prison quickly. Why should people who have money and fame get away with crimes. He had plenty of money to buy sex-why would he drug a KID and then rape her i think his sick and he is also a preditor. How do we know he hasn't commited this same crime in europe where he has lived for last 30yrs or so. what if he paid her cash for her silence and his remorse-she deserves justice now!

UnderTheBlueSky

Some of the comments here are ridiculous. A judge doesn't have to honor deals prosecutors enter with defendants. Also, Polanski's crime was against society; the individual victim is allowed to file a civil action against Polanski, but not a criminal one. Indeed, prosecutors can file whether the victim wishes to "press charges" or not. Personally, I think the larger crime here is Polanski's fleeing justice. The simple fact that he continued to produce work (regardless of its quality) and avoid extradition, doesn't mean he should be allowed to avoid prosecution. As a practical matter (i.e., not legal), it may be too late to prosecute him for unlawful sex, but it's not for his running from the law. Personally, I'm glad the Swiss arrested him. I'm sure if the French sought extradition of a criminal defendant, they wouldn't think twice of what it. Lastly, this is a criminal matter in Los Angeles, not one that "America" should be "blamed for." Certainly, not by apologists in love with the idea that the privileged can be treated as royalty. Not here - at least not in theory.

jay handal

Polanski should be sent to Poland there they just enacted a law that Child Molesters must have chemical castration before being allowed back into society.
He fled and should be brought back to final justice, something that his victim will never have due to the psychological damage he has caused.

Yoga

Pedophiles take note: Pursue a career in film because, if Polanski escapes this, you can drug and have sex with as many underage children as you like and the French will accept you and express outrage because, like Roman Polanski, you will "benefit from great general esteem" and have "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities."

Da Maverick

He did the crime, and instead of staying and fighting, he chose to cut and run off to France, where he deprecated the American legal system, its cultural values, and all manners of its political system (as if France were better).

He's not a poor man, he's not a persecuted man, he's a fugitive. No one is above the law, and the man's ego knows no bounds. Sex with a 13-year-old, including taking pictures? How would this be handled today? Exactly. Don't drop the soap Polanksi.

Debbie

I think because the girl settled with him, and he served the original 42 day per the plea deal, then this just needs to be resolved. He need to come back and face the judge who needs to take the original plea with one modification. He needs to be deported back to France and as a felon, and never granted admission to the US again.

Gaby C

Typical LA Times. If Polanski was a Catholic Priest, you'd be chomping at the bit to get him back here!

howardx

correct me if im wrong but wasnt any deal made between polanski and the prosecutors merely a suggestion to the judge? i dont believe the judge has to abide by any agreement made between the accused and the prosecutor if he feels the punishment is too lenient, perhaps those supporting polanski could take this into consideration before citing the judge's POSSIBLE refusal of the deal as a legitimate reason to flee prosecution.

Lyman Ward

The DA's office is trying to cover up its shame after being shown as the charlatans they are in the Lisker case. This is a dog and pony show using Polanski to assuage their egos.

Flyboy

In a perfect world, Polanski should serve out his sentence. Being rich & talented does not place him above the law.

However, we don't live in a perfect world. With California teetering on bankruptcy, the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) LA county will spend dealing with a man who poses no current threat is ridiculous. Deal with the thousands of felons who will be freed because the CA prison system is bursting at the seams. Deal with the finding & jailing felons who pose an actual danger to the citizens of LA.

It's a shame, but the reality is in this real world we inhabit, the rich *are* different.

nobody

I wonder just how many prosecutors sit in public restrooms around the nation tapping their feet or downloading kiddie porn in the darkness of their homes or committing other secret crimes? In Gaza Hamas performed mass marriages between hundreds of 30 something culturally legal 'pedophiles' and their 6, 7, 8 year old "brides".
Sure, the foregoing is a slight stretch and Polansky has 'paid' and was at least civilly branded as a perv but I think the lesson here is; "Judge not lest ye (YOU) be judged"!
Do you not think there are greater crimes that need present attention AND resources? Move on...

puciret

Money talks. Polanski is a pedophile and who knows what he's done to other children but was caught? Pedophilia is an incurable disease and he will keep on doing it as long as his plutocratic status allows him to stay above the law. Can anyone say " Michael Jackson?"

Sten

Amazing how many commentators have absolutely no clue on what happened back then, but are all to eager to condemn.

Luna M

Yes, what he did was wrong. And he admitted to it 32 years ago. He entered a plea bargain, i.e. wanted to serve time and pay damages for it.
Despite the absolute abhorrent act that he did, some questions remain:
a) How does the MOTHER of a 13-years old agree to let her daughter spend time alone with an obviously disturbed and traumatized man (his wife was killed in a horrific tragedy)?
b) This man has turned his life around as a consequence.
c) The LAPD is hungry, as always, for high-profile cases for personal gain and publicity. (Some of them end up as consultants on some movie / TV set.) This is a waste of time and money. How about the white-collar criminals who ruined the American economy? How are they prosecuted?

Make No Mistake

This disgusting cretin did unspeakable acts to a CHILD. Read the transcripts. I am aghast and outraged at the attitude that we should simply let bygones be bygones. This man committed an unspeakable crime, pled GUILTY, and then high-tailed it out of here when it looked like he would actually do some real time. I could care less that they reneged on the plea bargain issue. Because he managed to establish a lovely life abroad and it's been many years ago, we should just sweep all this under the rug?!? HE'S painting himself as a victim? He doesn't think he deserves to be in jail? Plaxico Burress got TWO YEARS in jail and didn't hurt anyone but himself! Polanski can flout the law because he makes friggin' MOVIES??

I will instantly resume the boycott of French products that people started back in 2001 after 9/11. They're trying to paint his crime as a youthful indiscretion, despite the fact that he was in his thirties and what he did was calculated and deviant. They're outraged by his arrest? Well, I'm outraged by their outrage!!! They are openly defending an admitted rapist!

I swear, listening to the apologists for him has truly turned my stomach today. I haven't been this angry for a loooong time!

Lee Mentley

The DA should read Bugliosi's book on how to indite try and convict Dick Cheney and the Bush Crime Family for War Crimes and stop this nonsence and diversion of arresting a man for something that was consensual 32 years ago during the sexual revolution. Unless The DA is going to also arrest half the republican in office who committed adultry and buggery in the last few years...! Get over it...!

cats

There is one person who has had the power to end this for the last 30 years, and that is Polanski. He is the one who has chosen to drag this debacle out, to make the victim return again and again to this terrible experience. Had he just faced justice, he could have done his time for a very few years, and would have been a free man for decades by now. Instead, he mortgaged his future, and the note is coming due.

The idea that this man has suffered enough and thus that his rape of a minor child should be ignored is abhorrent. The idea that she just wants this whole thing to be over by now does not make Polanski's crime(s) go away. This is about justice. If this were a poor man or a priest who had sodomized a 13-year old at any time in the past, we'd be up in arms. Even if they had paid the victim a settlement. Unfamous child molesters and the famous kind should both be punished.

I'm sure he would agree if it were Susan Atkins who had fled from justice for 30 years. Even if she had made some boffo films in the meantime.

JM

Although he should pay for his crime, there is a requirement that law enforcement agencies complete due dilligence in their attempt to serve a warrant. If the involved law enforcement agency knew or should have known of his previous whereabouts in the conuntry he was ultimately arrested, they should have attempted to serve the warrant a long time ago. If they did not perform the necessary due dilligence the man should, unfortunately, be released.

maggie


This is a ridiculous act for the U.S. Justice Dept. to waste time on, as if they don't have enough to worry about.

The victim settled long ago, and it's not like Polanski is Osama bin Laden, for God's sake.

Besides, I'd like to know what we offered the Swiss to have them act on U.S. behalf. Seems treacherous of both countries.

Here's my plea deal: Have Polanski direct another movie as good as Chinatown and we'll forgive him. OK?

JACK

Hooray for the DA! Polanski committed two crimes. One was statutory rape. The other more serious crime was fleeing justice. The judge was not unfair as has been alleged. I knew Judge Rittenbrand well. He was a fair but tough judge. It was his duty to review any plea bargain and if he didn't believe it was just, he had not only the authority but the duty to deny it. In this case, Polanski committed a serious crime for which time in prison was appropriate, not just the few days Polanski served in the County Jail and Judge Rittenbrand rightly denied the plea bargain. Polanski could have chosen to go to trial but instead he fled. Whatever consequences he suffered as the result of his flight were self-inflicted. Now he must face the music.

Mr. Matt

Wrong question in my opinion. The sick behavior here is the U.S. Justice Dept., L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. This has got to be the tastiest icing on the cake in the declining world opinion of the U.S.A. Free Polanski.

Jim

Dismiss the case, drop the charges, save the money, save the time, let the 1970s go the way of Jimmy Carter; onto the scrapheap of history.

With all of the problems the 11 million people who live in Los Angeles County have, this case is not worth the effort.

Jim,
Beverly Hills

Suzanne /Los Angeles

I'm upset by the LA Times' cavalier attitude towards Polanski's disgusting crime, which he has admitted and for which he has served no jail time. A 13-year-old? A 13-YEAR-OLD?? What is the matter with you? If he had been a priest would that have been cause to "let it go"? If he had been a president? A captain of industry? A soccer coach? Horrible.

fabgear

If this was a non-famous person would the DA pursue this case for 31 years after a civil suit was settled?


Would the judge on the case change his mind on signing off on the deal with the prosecution after getting an ear full from his country club friends if it was Jon Doe? Would the general public even know of it?

My point is fame and notoriety didn't do Mr Polanski any good, quite the opposite in LA courts. Outlooks on drugs, sex and teenagers have changed in the past 30 years. The middleclass are much more protective of their kids these days- to the point they don't let them walk to school anymore or have any down time without it being micro managed.You can't judge past actions in today's mind set.Different times.They don't even make Quaaludes anymore.

What he did wasn't right but far worse things are going on right now right here that need the resources and attention of the DA and public.


Here is something to chew on-Where is your outrage that a 12yr old died of a tooth abscess because his family couldn't find a dentist who took Medicaid ?! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/02/AR2007030200827.html

chris

Maggie:

Let me come over your house, drag you to Chinatown, drug you, sodomize/rape you and then I'll run away for 30 years.

Chris

If Polanski thought he was getting railroaded back then he should have fought it- not ran away. I say extradite him and we can either try him or he can plead guilty. This should have been handled 30 years ago. He probably would have only served a couple of years at most, and then been out for the last 28 yrs. Anyone else who committed an act such as this would have spent 10-20 years in jail. I don't have sympathy for child molesters and child rapists. I also don't buy the- he is 76 years old argument and no 76 yr. old should be subjected to this. If he did it, he should pay for it.

Missy Twane (an honest woman).

The persecution of Roman Polanski exemplifies the corruption in the justice system of the United States…

From Samantha Geimer:

“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.”

When something like this happens, our justice system ceases to be a “justice” system and becomes an unjust system. There is also a lot more to this than is included in this article.

Please see this piece written by Samantha Geimer from Februrary of 2003:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wire/la-oe-samantha-geimer23-2003feb23,0,4716430.story

To all of you who are figuratively clamoring for Roman Polanski’s head, if you were in the same position, knowing all the nuances of what actually transpired (see the above statement from Samantha Geimer), you would do the same thing…

(Don’t forget that in addition to the criminal case Polanski went through, he also later settled a civil suit brought by the victim, Samantha Geimer, for an unspecified amount, and she publicly forgave him.)

Contact the DA’s office and let them know how you feel about them wasting the taxpayer’s dollars on this farce that has already been resolved civilly and should have been resolved criminally (when they should really be using their precious few resources to go after the issues that are harming all of us now; the gangs of Los Angeles, the executives of the credit card, bank and insurance companies, etc.):

District Attorney's Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210
Telephone (213) 974-3512
Fax (213) 974-1484
TTY (800) 457-7778
(8:30am - 5:00pm M-F)

J. Lewis

He made a MISTAKE? Drugging and raping a 13 year old girl. That is not a mistake. That is a crime for which there is no excuse. "Oh, I'm sorry. Let me give you money." That may be ok for the girl involved but it should not be ok for our society. What happened to Sharon Tate and his mother or any other tragedy in his life should not be an excuse to let him avoid the legal consequence of his despicable actions.

Congratulations to the DA for actually doing his job. Isn't that what we expect a DA to do?

Rudi Moschitz

He should be locked up for being stupid and getting caught in Switzerland!!!
Some people think they can get away with everything, Mr. Narcissist.

john

Scumbag!!!!!!!

Rick P. Calabasas

Read what Polanski did to a 13 year old girl on thesmokinggun.com page 28 on the document. This creep should face justice and then appeal if he wants.

Steve

I'm honestly confused by those who think we should forget the whole thing. This is not only an age of consent issue (as if that in itself is some sort of legal technicality). It has been clearly established the girl was thirteen, drugged and unwilling. Under what circumstances should an adult who rapes a thirteen year old go free? When the victim doesn't approve of the prosecution? When enough time goes by? When the rapist is famous and talented? When Europeans disapprove?

Catherine

Protecting kids from predators should be priority for Cooley. Is your child a priority. Sad
the question is even being polled.

Sadly, most child sex abuse victims think that they are the only ones abused by their
perpetrator. The fact is that rarely if ever is there only one victim.

While Polanski's victim claims to forgives him and wants to move on, I'm sure she doesn't want another
child to suffer the crimes she has experienced. Yet, many victims stay trapped thinking that
they were the only victim so it just doesn't matter. And Sadly, that is the message
our criminal justice system have given to its citizens.

Are you sure that Polanski isn't an admitted child molesting
Catholic priest?

He looks alot like that Fr. John Lenihan, the admitted predator from the Orange Diocese.

And France is behaving like complicity bishops, the ones responsible
for protecting and covering-up thousands of known, admitted and suspected crimes by clerics.

Remember Fr. "X" Lenihan?. He's that publicly admitted child molester. Despite his public admissions to
child sex crimes in 1991, the public and government watched this rapist as the red carpet was rolled out
for him for another two decades while he continued to rape children, including forcing at least one victim
to have an abortion that Lenihan paid for.

Polanski has made a mockery of kids safety as he has had unfettered access to children for
decades.

I worry that like Catholic Bishops who forced victims into gag order settlements (don't talk about it),
that that is how Polanski may be revictimizing his survivor now. After all, wasn't it
a secret settlement?

If Polanski ever makes it to LA to face these charges, I'm sure Cardinal Mahony
would be glad to put him up at his Cathedral as he did for another molester, Fr. Carl Suptin.

I'm sure Mahony would also like to help Polanski with his high priced attorney bullies like
Hennigan and Steir....He may even pop for the PR firms too. After all, a win for Polanski is
another opportunity for the Archdiocese to continue to protect molesters and hurt the vulnerable.

And I'm not being sarcastic and I'm NOT lauging.

Yes, it's worth holding Roman Polanski accountable....kids derserve protection and cover-ups must be
exposed.

BeautyQueen

I don't know many people who would say, "My wife and unborn baby were murdered, I'd better go sodomize a 13 year old CHILD!" Don't let one incident, albeit a tragic one, lend credence to the other, people. Give Polanski a cell next to Phil Specter's. They'll have each other for company, and can share the mutual understanding of the difficulties of leaving behind a life of wealth for one of incarceration.

Now that we know he'll have someone to understand him and his piteous woes, can we jail this freak and close the books on 32 years of reprehensible actions on ALL sides (his for fleeing, and ours for letting it go this long)?

 
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