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Polanski Is Free At Last

by Anne Thompson
July 12, 2010 6:32 AM
34 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

The nightmare of being imprisoned since September 2009 is over for Roman Polanski. The Swiss will not extradite the filmmaker to the U.S. on charges from a 1977 rape case in Los Angeles. The authorities are releasing him from house arrest at his chalet in Gstaad. Here's the NYT, which reported that at a press conference in Bern on Monday Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters: “He’s a free man."

UPDATE: The L.A. district attorney still wants to go after Polanski, reports The Wrap. And THR reports positive reaction from Europe.

I do not condone what Polanski did back then. But I think he has been punished enough. I want to see him make more movies.

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More: Directors, News

34 Comments

  • BrettKM | July 13, 2010 8:48 AMReply

    "If he was a rapist, why did the LA DA not prosecute him on that charge in 1977?"

    Because he fled the country.

    "I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations for all those charges lapsed many years ago."

    Actually, heinous crimes such as murder and child rape have no statute of limitations in California.

    "Statutory rape is different than rape. It is not the same thing. It is intellectually insulting to hear smart people claim such a thing.

    And statutory rape, as in the Polanski case, is indeed wrong. But he never pled guilty with rape, nor did the DA charge him with that. So in the eyes of the law, he is not a rapist."

    Tell that do the 13 year old girl that was drugged, photographed naked, and then RAPED by a 30 something year old man. How does this not register? It's hard to plead anything when you're on a plane out of the country.

  • Tom | July 13, 2010 7:26 AMReply

    I'm Tom, and I approve of child rape.

  • noName | July 13, 2010 7:07 AMReply

    I'm just glad he's free to rape again.

  • Gwen | July 13, 2010 6:19 AMReply

    Dear Ms. Thompson,
    Thank you for your contribution towards making the crimes of rape and sodomy look like misdemeanors. If you are ever raped I truly hope that the police, the courts, and the media have a big belly laugh at your expense. Furthermore, I hope they do everything in their power to make the future of your rapists as bright and beautiful as possible. That is all, have fun throwing a party for rapist-Polanksi. Obviously you and him live in the same gutter.

  • Chris | July 13, 2010 6:05 AMReply

    Polanski apologism is disgusting. You're not allowed to rape people. I don't give a fuck if you directed Chinatown.

  • dee | July 13, 2010 5:28 AMReply

    He has been punished enough? Because he's been forced to live in exile on a posh estate in France?

    And I'm ashamed at all the apologist posts here. If you have read the sworn testimony of the victim, you would know it's not just a case of statutory rape, she asked numerous times for him to stop and he did not. That is rape, plain and simple.

  • Tom | July 13, 2010 4:21 AMReply

    Statutory rape is different than rape. It is not the same thing. It is intellectually insulting to hear smart people claim such a thing.

    And statutory rape, as in the Polanski case, is indeed wrong. But he never pled guilty with rape, nor did the DA charge him with that. So in the eyes of the law, he is not a rapist.

  • Francis E. Dec | July 13, 2010 4:09 AMReply

    My cock is stuck up a 13-year-olds ass right now, so I'm getting a kick out of these replies...

  • syd | July 13, 2010 3:39 AMReply

    At least that scumbag rapist (for you apologists, statutory rape makes you a rapist) won't ever set foot in the U.S again...legally.
    And Thompson, you just set back feminism decades.
    Shame on you.

  • ryan | July 13, 2010 3:37 AMReply

    I agree with Anne. I would like to see him make more movies. He is an artist, and deserves to give his gift to the world. Hey, maybe he could drug and then rape Anne Thompson and any children she may have with a broom handle, and then make a really artistic movie about it. I'm sure he'd win another Oscar!

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 13, 2010 3:21 AMReply

    And meant to add, likewise Polanski, had he returned, does not have the right either to withdraw his guilty plea.

    There are rules and laws that cover all of this. People are asking for a do-over when a do-over is illegal.

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 13, 2010 3:16 AMReply

    I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations for all those charges lapsed many years ago.

    Someone pipe in with better knowledge, but the only charge that could be used to extradite him is illegal flight, and if he returned, then the disrupted process would continue - but going back before the guilty plea is I believe impossible.

  • R. Tesian | July 13, 2010 2:48 AMReply

    Given the widespread acceptance of misconduct in the original sentencing, as Tom repeatedly mentions, Polanski's best opportunity for closure might have lay in returning to the U.S., where he could have garnered public support for coming back and addressing the issues which caused him to flee.

    Since his cowardice and his arrogant refusal to admit he did anything wrong conspire to prevent this, I find myself hoping they set aside the plea bargain and re-issue an arrest warrant on the original charges: rape by use of drugs, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. Since one of the motivators for the plea bargain at the time was to spare a 13 year-old girl from having to testify against her rapist, perhaps a second trial will produce a more just result.

  • jl | July 13, 2010 1:55 AMReply

    he's a crook. he's a thief. he's a liar. he's a rapist. he's a disgrace.

  • Tom | July 13, 2010 1:34 AMReply

    So I assume you have never seen Tess or The Pianist, both made after he fled the US?

    And there is zero evidence of any similar abuse in Polanski's history. An interest in young females, yes (Nastasja Kinski for one, although she was of legal age in France when they met). But I know of no other similar cases in his life - and the DA would have brought them out then and now if there were any.

  • Martha | July 13, 2010 1:05 AMReply

    Once an abuser, always an abuser. He never offered one ounce of atonement for what he did, and now he's the victim. Sorry, don't buy it.

    If he had copped to what he did, that it was wrong, and offered even an apology (other than trying to buy off the victim with cash, and then never paying her) - I might be more sympathetic. I just don't think that this is a filmmaker whose 'personal vision' I care to watch on screen.

  • Tom | July 12, 2010 12:21 PMReply

    If he was a rapist, why did the LA DA not prosecute him on that charge in 1977?

    Most likely because they didn't think they could prove that charge.

    So no, I don't blithely accept that he is a rapist in the legal definition of the term. He might have been - but it was never legally proved.

    He has paid the piper ever since in many ways. But he has also for the last decades also not been a threat to society, has never been arrested again, has married and fathered children and has an acclaimed creative career.

    And the issue of the deal is not a red herring. Polanski had reason to flee - good reason. The Manson family, post the trials after they murdered his wife and child, had announced death threats against him. He didn't know, if he were to be sent to prison, whether he might encounter any of the extended crime family members. He had been told by his own attorneys and the prosecutors that if he took this deal, the issue would be resolved.

    Then a legally challenged judge decided (under circumstances clearly detailed in the recent documentary and elsewhere) decided he wanted to undo it all.

    Sorry, but faced with the same circumstances and the means to leave the country and live elsewhere, I bet everyone here would have done exactly the same thing.

    Again, not defending Polanski's original actions. I'm defending legal principle here.

    And no one mentions - the opportunistic publicity seeking current DA who is pushing this is the GOP candidate for Attorney General, with hopes of becoming governor some day. I am convinced the timing of this case was to enhance his political chances.

    Glad he failed.

  • Chris | July 12, 2010 12:19 PMReply

    According to Court Documents Polanski and his legal represenatition agreed that they were awaiting sentencing after the mental evaluation.

    When they got wind he wa sin for jail time and wasnt gonna get the hollywood pass he fled the country. The Man is a convicted felon who has been on the run. It should not be surprising that disgusting piles of flesh like Woody Allen support him.

    Frankly yes I am angry. I am angry a child molestor can get away with molesting children and not face justice because he is part of the Hollywood Elite.

    I am angry disgusting people like the author of this article sit here and act like Polanski is some poor victim. Boo hoo he was restricted to his 6 million dollar home in the Swiss Alps. That must have been so terrible.

  • mitkid | July 12, 2010 12:04 PMReply

    Tom,

    My point is that the deal (if there ever was one) is irrelevant in this case and a red herring. Polanski is a rapist, he pleaded guilty to a felony, he jumped bail. I'm sure he had great lawyers in '77 and fine legal advice and had he stayed in the states would have been treated with kid gloves. He didn't. He chose to flea and now doesn't have to pay the piper.

    I'm not angry, more just an observation. Had it been my daughter or sister, then I'd have been angry.

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 12, 2010 12:02 PMReply

    Most people who are glad he is not be extradited are not siding with Polanski or excusing his actions.

    This is so frustrating how that people angry about this can't accept that the legal issues involved are why it was right for him not to be returned here, not approval or sympathy for his actions.

  • C | July 12, 2010 11:55 AMReply

    Interesting that it's mostly men who side with Polanski here and most women don't...

    Anyway, I don't believe that rape could ever be a momentarily or situational "lapse in judgment". It's a cruel act that is about abuse of power and getting pleasure out of someone else's pain and suffering. A person who is capable of such, man or woman, will never be celebrated or excused by me.
    His past, his achievements and his celebrity status won't change that.

  • Tom | July 12, 2010 11:35 AMReply

    Mitkid

    The reality is that the LA DA has literally thousands upon thousands of people who have skipped bail and they do not expend 1% of the effort that was done to corral Polanski.

    Contrary to your belief, it was precisely his fame and the political value of pursuing him that caused them to go after him at this late date.

    The preponderance of evidence, reinforced by the failure of the LA DA to provide the evidence the Swiss court wanted, that Polanski's point that the deal that caused him to waive his rights and plead guilty was changed for extra-legal reasons, is that this was not a normal case normally handled.

    I know it's easy to think the rich get away with stuff, and there is a lot of truth in that much of the time. But not in this case.

    Hope that makes you feel less angry.

  • mitkid | July 12, 2010 11:02 AMReply

    Polanski was a convicted felon who skipped bail. I guarantee that if I tried to get sanctuary in France or Switzerland I'd be on the first plane back. Once again, the rich and powerful get a pass.

  • steve | July 12, 2010 10:46 AMReply

    yay Roman so glad this is over and he can now get back to making movies and his family can move on

  • Steve John Zarebski | July 12, 2010 10:43 AMReply

    Yay Roman I can wait until you start making more great films fuck those hater and hate full morons on here I'm glad this is fainally over with and him and his family can move on

  • R. Tesian | July 12, 2010 10:32 AMReply

    Polanski has never apologized for his reprehensible acts, and two years after he left the U.S. he was 'dating' 15 year old Nastassja Kinski.

    Saying that he has suffered enough is a disservice to other Holocaust survivors who have not become child molesters. Polanski's tragic past gets him sympathy, not amnesty.

    Fleeing the U.S. when his sweetheart plea bargain looked like it might unravel cost him the chance to have this all done and dusted decades ago, something he was not very interested in until after his arrest in Zurich.

    While I agree that the original case was almost certainly mishandled , it does not change what Polanski did; letting rapists choose exile as their 'punishment' is hardly justice.

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 12, 2010 10:03 AMReply

    It's not a question of siding with Polanski.

    It's a question of following the law.

    Yes, there is a lot of unfairness in that he did not suffer more consequences.

    But making a mockery of the law to satisfy people's baser Nancy Grace instincts is not the way to conduct legal business, no matter how much better it might make some people feel about themselves.

    If Polanski were not a celebrity, and then a documentary made those involved with the case look like fools, this would never have been pursued. The LA DA does not have the money or the interest to go overseas to hunt down a 79 year man who will never return to the US on a case from over 30 years ago. Their doing so, to me, was ridiculous and unwarranted, even though I do agree that the charges against him deserved a different conclusion.

    This is a topic smart and fair people can disagree over. But the inability of those outraged by what Polanski did to not also to be outraged by the LA DA's office then and now is very frustrating.

  • BrettKM | July 12, 2010 9:46 AMReply

    I know this link comes from a biased site, however, the transcript of the trial is factual evidence. How can one read this and side with Polanski for any reason?

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/polanskicover1.html

    How has he earned redemption or paid his time; by continuing to make films and money in his humble estate, while his victim still has to try and live her life day by day knowing he will never be held responsible for his (morally subhuman and) felonious actions? Of course she wants it to be over, do you think decades of therapy and an altered state of self could yield any other result? He drugged and raped a 13 year old girl, after taking pictures of her naked, and then fled, fully aware of what he'd done. What part of that is justifyable? And tell me you can honestly say you'd feel the same way were this your daughter, sister, etc. I guess she had to die or slowly fall apart publicly for this to have been a crime.

  • mpejko | July 12, 2010 9:42 AMReply

    Nightmare of being imprisoned since 2009? Paradise compared to being drugged and anal rapped, only to watch your accuser get away with it, while mindless drones without a moral bone in their body defend a rapists every move, because he directed Chinatown.
    Is it any wonder why the victim wants the whole thing over with? If I were constatnly confronted with the los of moral fibre in the justice society, and indeed humanity as a whole, I would want to move on as well.
    Shame on you, Anne.

  • BenCM | July 12, 2010 8:47 AMReply

    I find what Pulanski did to be abhorrent.

    But I also think this Nancy Grace inspired vitriol that has inspired a lot of commentators is ill-argued pseudo-feminism. People need to stop trying to make him out to be a violent child-rapist. I think we're all intelligent enough to absorb the situation for what it was. He made the wrong decision and he should have known better and we all should be very disappointed in him for that.

    I also think his punishment should partially be up to the victim. But by all accounts she want's this to be over. Now, hopefully, it's over.

    Unlike our friend Phil Spector no lives have technically been destroyed by his actions, however perverted.

    If anything I think he should have to do A LOT of community service for LA to be allowed to make films here again. But then again I have no business judging other people and neither does anyone here.

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 12, 2010 8:20 AMReply

    (reposted comment - 1st time eaten)

    I'm with Anne on this.

    This case was decided by the Swiss on legal grounds. Their statement clearly says the LA officials did not provide the needed proof to rebut claims Polanski's lawyers made about the initial deal all parties agreed to. So if you want to blame anyone, blame the LA DA.

    There is a legal maxim that big cases make for bad law. This was from the start a clear example of this.

    I am glad it is over. And yes, I am no less appalled by Polanski's actions that anyone else here. But I am just or more appalled by politicizing decades-old cases without justification and with little precedent.

  • tom brueggemann | July 12, 2010 8:11 AMReply

    Thanks for your brave and thoughtful words on this, Anne.

    There is a maxim in legal circles that big cases make for bad law. Rarely was this more true than here.

    The Swiss authorities asked for months for LA officials to disprove Polanski's attorneys claim that all parties had committed to the deal that was in place that sent him for observation as his sentence.

    The LA officials never did so.

    The Swiss said, we are not going to extradict someone without this question being answered - both for the interests of justice, but also because if the same issue would free Polanski when he returned (likely), then they wouldn't participate in this farce.

    The whole revival of this case was about getting PR for LA politicians who were embarassed by the documentary a couple years ago. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a case (when they have no money to spare) where the person involved is no threat to anyone, let alone in LA. They did so against the objections of the victim.

    Yes, what Polanski did was awful. And yes, arguably he should have gotten harsher treatment to start off with (although the DA could have taken his chance with a jury, but chose not to).

    I am glad this travesty is finally over.

  • ahem | July 12, 2010 8:02 AMReply

    I normally love your writing Anne, and almost always agree with you, but your consistent indignation on the part of Polanski is continually shocking to me, and feels inexplicable considering your solid judgment elsewhere. Nightmare of house arrest in his own beautiful home? "Free at last"? This isn't Steve Biko or MLK here, and your comment about wanting him to make more movies is almost shockingly shallow and frankly a little repugnant.

    Hell, I would love to see Phil Spector produce more music too -- let's just let him out as well.

  • Emily Millay Haddad | July 12, 2010 7:44 AMReply

    And to be clear, your priority interest here is to see the movies a child rapist and sodomizer will make? I just want to make sure I understand that correctly.

    I really don't understand Polanski apologists. When you say that he's suffered enough, are you referring to his days in the Warsaw ghetto? To his wife's murder? To his days of house arrest in his ski chalet? To his so-sad inability to accept his own Academy Award? None of that suffering answers for the crime that he (most likely) committed -- taking advantage of, performing cunnilingus on, raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl. He has never answered for that critical, violent and disgusting lapse in judgment and behavior -- which, in my experience of abusers, is an event that doesn't just happen out of the blue. It comes as part of a pattern of immoral and unethical decision-making and actions. That he has run from answering for his crimes for so long is just part and parcel of his thinking that the rules of society (like, say, not sexually assaulting young girls) don't apply to him.

    And you just want to see his movies? Honestly, I'm appalled at the sentiment. I hope he never sets foot in the US again, except to answer in court, and I hope he never raises another dollar of money to make a film until then. Unfortunately, I also know that the lives of young girls run cheap in this world, and I'm bitterly sure he'll be funded again soon.

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