Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Polanski's a victimizer, not a victim
By DeWayne Wickham
The important thing to know about Roman Polanski is that he is a pedophile.
Last week, the U.S. government filed an extradition request with Switzerland to have the 76-year-old Academy Award-winning director return to this country to faces charges related a sexual encounter he had with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Since his arrest last month after he arrived in Switzerland from his home in France to attend the Zurich Film Festival, Polanski's supporters have mounted a campaign to keep him from the clutches of the U.S. justice system.
They circulated a petition that demands his release while decrying his detention by Swiss police for what they describe simply as a moral charge. Among those signing it are a who's who of movie directors, including Woody Allen, Jonathan Demme, John Landis and Martin Scorsese. While their hearts may be in the right place, their heads are in the sand.
Thirty-two years ago, Polanski plied a girl with champagne and Quaaludes to loosen her inhibitions. Then he sodomized her.
After listening to the girl's testimony, a grand jury issued a six-count indictment against the Polish-born director that included charges of rape, sodomy and lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14.
However, when the young victim's lawyer said the girl didn't want go through the spectacle of a Hollywood trial, Polanski got a big break. He was allowed to plead guilty to the single charge of "unlawful intercourse with a minor." But before he was sentenced, Polanski fled to France, where he had an affair with Nastassja Kinski. She was just 15.
Polanski is a pedophile, by any definition. Yet instead of snatching a child off the street or entering their bedroom late at night through an unlocked window, he used guile and his celebrity to have his way.
In the Los Angeles case, he wooed the young girl away from her mother with the false claim that he wanted to photograph the child for Vogue Hommes, a French fashion magazine. After feeding the girl alcohol and drugs, Polanski took partially nude photographs of the child before performing anal sex on her.
Afterward, he took the girl home and told her not to tell her mother what he'd done. But she did, and Polanski was arrested.
Polanski's supporters want us to believe his apprehension in Switzerland is a violation of some cultural code of conduct. "By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this," the petition states.
Polanski wasn't arrested because of his art; he was jailed because of the sexual offense he committed against a 13-year-old girl - a crime he admitted to before fleeing. They also claim Polanski was the victim of judicial misconduct. The judge, they say, was going to renege on a commitment to incarcerate Polanski for only 90 days. If he hadn't fled, supporters say he would have received a much longer sentence.
They want us to see Polanski as the victim, not a victimizer.
In a 1993 civil suit brought against him by the girl - who was then nearly 30 - Polanski invoked his right against self-incrimination when he was asked whether he fed her champagne and drugs before assaulting her.
Roman Polanski has evaded justice for 38 years. It's time he pays a price for the awful crime he committed.