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Roman Polanski's supporters sending wrong message about rape, minimizing director's crimes, critics say

Roman Polanski

Defenders of Roman Polanski have not minced words in their criticism of L.A. prosecutors for arresting the director three decades after he fled the U.S. before being sentenced for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called Polanski's arrest a "bit sinister."

His agent, Jeff Berg, has said that justice has already been served in the Polanski case.

Directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and Woody Allen are among dozens in the film industry to sign a petition calling for the immediate release of Polanski. Academy-Award winning film producer Harvey Weinstein, also a signatory to the petition, wrote in the UK Indpendent calling the original plea deal in Polanski's case a "miscarriage of justice."

"Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time," Weinstein wrote.

But such comments don't sit well with advocates of sexual abuse victims, who think Polanski's supporters in their zeal to free Polanski are sending the wrong message and downplaying the seriousness of the crime.

"Most troubling to me is that people just don’t understand the impact a crime like this has on a 13-year-old girl, and the fact that he has made some fabulous films is utterly irrelevant," said Katie Buckland, executive director of the California Women's Law Center. "It sends a message that the rich and powerful can get away with crimes that no one else can get away with."

The Polanski case has generated much debate about why prosecutors acted now. It's complicated somewhat by the fact that his victim, now in her 40s, has publicly said she believe he should not face prison time and that the matter should be dropped.

But Buckland said it is irrelevant that the victim did not want to press the case -- and that prosecutors should be praised for sticking with the case.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he hears echos of "Polanski's apologists" in the scandal over child abuse in the Roman Catholic priests.

"In both cases we have the public and secular authorities giving every benefit of the doubt to clear wrongdoers just by virtue of their exalted positions. You could easily say if Polanski was a priest, he would be easily jailed," Clohessy said. "Somehow if you can make movies, dance well, shoot a basketball, essentially accumulate wealth or power and then you are somehow exempt from the basic societal laws and expectations. By not pursuing Polanski, we send a very disturbing message to criminals. Make yourself popular, get good lawyers, flee the country and you are home free."

UCLA law professor Peter Arenella said the intensity of the debate surrounding Polanski is less about legal issues than it is about changed social norms, although it does not in any way excuse what happened but it may explain it.

“I’m not saying at the time of Mr. Polanski’s case that his behavior was justifiable under the prevailing social norms. It was still unjustifiable behavior on his part," Arenella said.

But he said there was "the same sensivity to the abuse of power issues."

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Director Roman Polanski arrives for a screening at the 60th Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. Credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP/Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (162)

The liberal progressives really need to look at themselves over this one! I mean, Obama adoration is one thing, but to side on the side of a child rapist who preyed upon an innocent is unexcusable. Remember, it is "The State of California vs. Polanski," not the victim vs. Polanski.

Progressives, why do you approve of this type of rape?

How is Polanski case different from that of any other rapist of a 13-year-old?

Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old child. Not statutory rape, where consent is fuzzy and age barriers come into play -- he forced a protesting 13 year old girl to have sex with him when he was 43. He negotiated the original charges down, plead guilty, then skipped town while on bail. He is a fugitive, admitted child rapist.

The rest just plain doesn't matter. I don't care how special you are, or how pretty your films can be, or how many people say you're a really good guy. I'm amazed at the sheer number of so-called artists who have apparently decided that if you're famous or talented enough, a little child rape and bail jumping in your past is okay.

This isn't about the victim, it's about our society and rule of law. As a society, we punish people who rape others. We also punish people who have sex with children. And we also punish people who violate trust and jump bail. These are necessary, BLIND boundaries we apply to all citizens.

Tell me again why Polanski should be allowed to erase a child rape he's already pleaded guilty to?

This man should just be left alone.People need to understand that before having his run in with the law by abusing a 13 year old girl,this man had tragically lost his wife who was brutally murdered by the Manson Family.That happened many years ago and he should just be left alone.

Maybe his supporters can let us know in the future when it's time to move on. Is it 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10? Does being an acclaimed director help, how about an electrician or carpenter--are they treated differently? It's so hard to figure this all out without the help of his supporters.? Since they are discarding the law, what exactly are the rules? And can they let us know in advance? Also, Harvey Weinstien can help us with the penal code too since he called this a "so-called" crime. I really can't believe these people talk out loud. And where is the outspoken Spike Lee on this one?

This is in essence not about Polanksi. It is about the victim who has repeatedly publically declared she just wants to move on with her life and the last thing she requires is another court case. Would justice force her to go trhough the whole ordeal again - as publically as possible - after this request? that is not justice, that is arrogance and righteousness. They have settled out of court and come to peace with it years ago. Sure it should never have happened, but it did, and it is done. Why drag her through another ordeal? Let Polanksi off - not for the sake of his artistic or social status, but for the sake of allowing this woman to find peace AT LONG LAST!!

In regards to Roman Polanski alleging Judicial Misconduct and/or prosecutorial misconduct at Santa Monica Courthouse vis a vis the plea bargain arrangement - it is true that Judicial Misconduct has occured at Santa Monica County of Los Angeles Courthouse often throughout the decades in various ways that leave a lasting impact on the victims.

For instance Francis Farmer the actress in the 1940's after being in Santa Monica Courthouse for a traffic offense - was later institutionalized and treated to electroconvulsive therapy. Like "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest." starring Roman Polanski's friend Jack Nicholson.

If the World is not aware of some of sordid history at Santa Monica County of Los Angeles Courthouse then history is doomed to repeat itself.

Arresting Roman Polanski now and after 31 years is not so much about the crime of sexual assault the County of Los Angeles obviously doesn't care about the victim - this is more about Los Angeles County's need for power and control.

When it suits their needs in other cases - the County of Los Angeles use Santa Monica Courthouse Judges, African American police and African American sheriff deputies to cover up sexual assault on white women perpetrated by white Santa Monica professors - Then undocumented White Sheriff Deputies are used to assault and batter white women in the courtroom because they reported the crime of sexual molestation at Santa Monica Educational Institution and their police cover up of it

The County of Los Angeles action in regards to Roman Polanski is hypocritical since the County of Los Angeles and their employees - does not care about white women who have been sexually assaulted and in other cases act in concert to oppress them by assaulting and battering them in a Santa Monica Courtroom.

The extradition of Roman Polanski which comes late - after 31 years is about Los Angeles County's need for power and control - more than anything else. Everyone needs to be treated fairly in Santa Monica County of Los Angeles Courthouse which is not happening currently.

At 13 you aren't old enough to post a comment but apparently they think its old enough to have sex. He should stay in jail period; the pedophile that he is. And to register as a sex offendor. He cannot live near or around children. PERIOD. Why is he any different than any other pedophile? HE PLEAD GUILTY!!

Polanski's been a coward his whole life. I'm disappointed to see Scorsese blindly sticking up for him. It's a disgrace.

Can a victim of sexual violence herself please get a word in, when people are done beating their chests? Because of what happened to me, I had to leave town, drop a major and transfer to another university, delaying my Bachelor's Degree, okay? Then this guy and his brother stalked me for 3 years while I could not get a restraining order. Does that give me enough street cred with you?

Are you calm, now? Are you going to listen to reason?

Judicial misconduct serves no one, not the victim and not the accused.

The victim herself objects that the judge reneged on the original plea deal, because he wanted more publicity and a televised sentencing, along with more jail time. It goes without saying that Polanski didn't want a televised sentencing. Do you think the victim did?

The victim herself says that the courts have abused her more than Polanski did.
She wants it done with, and after trying to go through the court system, I don't blame her!

It is a disgrace that, after all the supposed reforms instituted in rape prosecution, the experience is still violating enough for women to prefer a plea deal or a settlement. Do you have the courage, once you are finishing speaking for me and for her, to confront that fact?

No one cares about the victim, because they're ignoring her requests. And I doubt very much that you care about me. (I've already been accused of "excusing rape" and "having a chip on my shoulder." Well, yeah, considering HE is now a born-again Christian raising a big family and spouting off against atheists like me, with a little help from the "I'm an atheist but..." crowd.) You're too busy being righteous, wringing your hands, and reducing our experiences to black-and-white dogma that doesn't help us. The road to hell...

Dare I say that I learned a lesson about putting myself in a dangerous situation that I didn't repeat? That does not mean that I think I "asked for it." That does mean that I think I've learned something about power and how it operates. What a pity that our court system and self-styled "victims' representatives" guard their own power so jealously, infantilizing women. "Abuse of power issues!" I want to cry.

"Rape is rape!" Except when it is done by the system (and by the same prosecutor, in fact, whose ethics violations screwed up the Stevens trial). Except when it is done by the press, who exploits the victim of a celebrity - the same press, I might add, who not ten years before was blaming Roman Polanski's wife Sharon Tate for her own murder ("Satanist! Drug addict! Orgies! Cannibal!"), and for which it never apologized before sniffing after interviews with that pipsqueak Charles Manson.

I'm more traumatized by Squeaky Fromme being released than by Polanski completing his latest film.

How this spectacle sickens my heart.

But Roman Polanski never pretended to a rabbi, minister or priest, did he? He never took vows committing his life to the service of others or was ordained was he? He never presumed to be an ordained representative of Jesus Christ did he?

No, Polanski was what he was, just your garden variety sexual predator who was caught and convicted, but who because he had the ability to flee, fled. But thankfully his conviction for the sexual abuse of a minor does not expire because of the passage of years and he will be held accountable.

The fact is that there are any number of priests known to have "fled the country" to avoid being held accountable for the sexual abuse of girls and boys.

There are more who were shipped to the foreign missions, sent to Rome to study or otherwise transferred out of the country by their bishops or religious superiors because of the rape of adult women in addition to the sexual abuse of children.

The important difference that Reese does not mention is that very few sexually abusive priests of girls, boys, young women, men, vulnerable adults, and that includes sisters and nuns, have ever been tried in a criminal court and found guilty, very few.

Moreover, the sorry fact is that there are a lot more that those we know about and that's closer to or more than 10%.

Visit the web site of former Benedictine monk, Catholic priest and psychotherapist at www.richardsipe.com or www.bishopaccountability.org or www.napsac.us

Unfortunately, very few sexual predators among the Roman Catholic clergy ever find their way even into a civil courtroom because the statutes of limitation have expired.

They didn't even need a get out of jail card because they received a completely free pass as did their bishops or religious superiors, if they were order priests or brothers.

And why is that?

Because bishops and religious superiors chose not to report the sexual molestation and rape of minors to the police, they chose not to remove them from ministry, they chose not to reach out pastorally, to warn parishioners but instead transferred them to another parish in the diocese where their predatory and criminal behavior continuned unchecked.

Keep in mind that the reason the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church even BEGAN to do much of anything in regard to the sexual abuse of untold numbers of children was because of the revelations of the Boston Globe newspaper in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, their actions in 2002 were no harbinger of Accountability & Transparency.

Far from it.

Bishops in New York, Colorado, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania and others have viciously opposed any states' movement to bring the sexual abuse statutes regarding the sexual abuse of children into the 21st century and spent millions of dollars, hiring law firms, lobbyists, public relations firms, and spin doctors to do it along with instructing their state Catholic Conferences to bankroll the same kinds of actions.

Would that it were possible to get all the living pedophile priests and the enablers into a civil court.

Most of them along with their enabling bishops or superiors will never be held accountable for their crimes and mortal sins in this life.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware

Last night on Nightline, I saw a crotchety old man from the DA's office acknowledge that Polanski's claim that the prior judge acted unethically had validity. He went on to say, however, that Polanski wanted to resolve things on his terms and the DA's office was going to show him that they were going to resolve things on their terms. That shows that the prosecutors are just a bunch of bitter egomaniacs who couldn't stand the idea that they weren't in control. This has nothing to do with providing justice for the victim or protecting society. This is just revenge by lawyers with a grudge. I think we have better ways to spend our money in this diffihttp://www.pe.com/cult economic time.

I'm sick of people sticking up for Polanski. Yes, his wife was killed by Manson's followers. Yes, he's made good movies. But, he raped a 13 yr. and fled justice. Even if the judge screwed up, he needs to come back here and be jailed. He may still appeal, but he's got to follow the rules.

If you do the crime, you gotta serve the time!

Oh, of course, Woody Allen is one of his defenders. That great white knight of appropriate relationships with children, if Woody thinks he should be released, then by all means, get out the key!!

I am discussted by all who think LEAVE HIM ALONE. If it was your mother, sister, wife, daughter, would it be ok with you? Come on people he is a discussting PIG! I don't care what happened to his wife (Manson). So then he turns around and kills a 13 year old girl. I say kill because he killed her innocense. You are all advocates of raping minors. Discussting!

I'm not sure I would want Woody Allen's support on a child sex case.

This is more about the A&E industry closing rank around their own, than Liberal vs. Conservative.

Reading the Grand Jury papers...and seeing the victim's current photos promoting the RP documentary...and reading her statements as an adult (about the incident)...Sounds like she needs to forgive herself, not the rapist (RP)

Regarding the victim not wanting to see him prosecuted: Polanski paid an undisclosed sum to the victim and her mother. And btw: the mother ought to be prosecuted just as harshly if not more harshly, for pimping out her daughter. Mom knew exactly what she was doing by leaving her 13 year old daughter there for a hot tub party with old leches like polanski and nicholson. Unbelievable that some of you seemingly intelligent people would say it's okay to let it go seeing "as it was 31 years ago". This would be less of an issue (or international incident it seems) if polanski had done what he had negotiated to do from the beginning when he pleaded guilty. It would all have been long over.

I thought liberals are supposed to be in sympathy with the small, the weak and the poor. Those of us who are old guard JFK Liberals wonder what has happened to the Democrats. What if it was not Polanski t but William Bennett or Mark Levin who had raped a 13 year old, admitted it and them fled the country to live the exciting life the artist in Europe? Does anyone think these "defenders" would hold their same perspective on forgiveness and on America being a backward "Puritan" nation? Issues like this expose the ugly truth about so many of the people today who fancy themselves as liberal or progressive. What has happened?

I don't care if he had a tragic life or not. He committed rape on a 13 year old. Since when is it okay to do that under any circumstances! Then, instead of facing up to the consequences, he runs to France where he has had a very lucritive existence. I don't care how many "brilliant motives and fans he has, he should be extradited and made to serve his sentence! Anyone else guilty of this crime would!!!

Witch hunt. Plain and Simple.

Look who sticks up for him, his friends, the celebrities.
Like they have a grip on real life, they have been catered to so much. That's why they don't think it's a big deal, they have no morals anymore. Who knows how many of them helped him flee in the first place, they are probable sad that they didn't get invite to the party.
And if it's not a big deal to have sex with a 13 year old, why didn't any if his celebrity friends offer him their own daughter? You are such a great director, here have my kid!

I have one question regarding the Roman Polanski arrest: what would the liberal media and Hollywood be saying right now if 30 years ago Rush Limbaugh had raped the girl and fled the country?

I believe that Justice, should be the same for everyone. Roman Polanski escape Justice going to France. { my birth Place }
If it was Mr nobody he will be brought to Justice so I do not see why Mr Polanski should not be treated the same way Because of who he is ?
A crime is a crime let Justice prevail.
That is my opinion as an abused child,
Julietta Arbaut

The story is that since Polanski spent time in the Warsaw ghetto when he was a child he had a mistrust of authority - so he skipped bail. If that's true, why would he risk getting being thrown in jail by *planning and then carrying* out a felony - and then to make the situation worse by fleeing to Europe, where his alleged mistrust of authority started? Idiot.

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