Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

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

More breaking news in LA Now:

Protest by homeless activists stops L.A. City Council meeting

No California tsunami warning from magnitude 7.9 American Samoa earthquake

$27 million worth of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Pollock artworks stolen in Pebble Beach

L.A. City Council offers $50,000 reward in gang-related shooting death of 4-month-old in Van Nuys

Comments () | Archives (162)

Whoa don't tar liberal progressives with this. I am as liberal as anyone but very happy to see justice served. I understand Polanksi's contribution to culture, but the law is the law.

the fact that he is a brilliant film maker does not change the fact that he is a child rapist, and although the victim no longer thinks he should be held responsible for his crime (because she has already been compensated monetarily), it simply doesn't mean he shouldn't be. i don't give a flying f*** if he's 76 years old, if he's a beloved husband, father, great friend and artist... he is still a child rapist. Also, it is such a disappointment that so many of my favorite actors and directors would support such a person (although we could have expected such a response from woody allen). It's disgusting... I'd like to see them entrust their children and grandchildren to good old polanski. it was RAPE people... RAPE. gross. shame on them.
Man-up polanski... and face the music.

I have taken note of who has signed petitions for Polanski. I will not be supporting any of these director's films. I have no respect for the Hollywood elite that excuse poor behavior from one of their own. They think they are a different class and should be exempt from following the law. Sick narcissistic fools! Would they feel the same if it was their 13 year daughter that was raped?

The lesson here is don't let your lawyers essentially challenge the DA to extradite you. Maybe a few months in jail fighting extradition--would you let him out on bail?-- now on top of the 42 days many years ago will add up to punishment that fits the crime.

The whole situation is a bit of comic relief from the real problems in the world. Incidentally, wouldn't Woody Allen be well advised to avoid signing petitions for child molesters?

He fled the country to avoid punishment, and why should anyone listen to celebrities they have a cop camaraderie. Woody? Yeah he’s the sharpest pencil on the page.

Upland Bob: As a liberal, I think that he needs to be brought home to face justice. I am sickened by the number of Hollywood directors who have petitioned to have him set free because he was arrested at a film festival, most of whom really should know better.

He wants to deal with the legal situation? He needs to come back to the United States, surrender, and deal with it under California law. Brilliance in filmmaking does not mean he gets to negotiate from afar.

This isn't about being liberal or democrat, this is about being HUMANE to the victim. Has anyone listened to what the victim has said? She wants it to go away. She doesn;t want to relive it over and over again. She has requested the courts to drop it and move on. She is the one being punished by the judicial system and the media. She has attempted everyday of her life for all these years to forget about this horrific incident and everyone wants to continue to drag it out from behind the door. It is time we all put her interests ahead of this nonsense. At this point, she is a grown woman and should call the shots regarding this. She deserves to live free of this judicial disaster. BTW - The State of California doesn't have a case without her as their witness, maybe she should plead the 5th as not to incriminate herself, thus having to live through this ongoing hell!

He admitted to the crime, but didn't like the way sentencing might go, so he left the country.
How rich or famous do you have to be for you to get to choose your punishment??
He should have served it long ago. Shame on him and all those who support ignoring the crimes this CHILD RAPIST is guilty of.
Is there a list of all those that want him released? Those are names I want removed from my movie collection. I have no use for elitists that think just because you have fame, money, power, or are just cool, that you get to be a scumbag and get away with it.
At least OJ was man enough to go to trial. He's not a man. Just a lowlife waiting to see who his cell mate will be.

She settled for money before, what makes you think she isn't helping him now for money? The cats already out of the bag and it's already all over the news so what's the difference? The pain is there for her and always will be but what about all of the young victims who have been raped or abused? This lady is just being selfish. How dare him not have to serve the punishment for what he did. This is almost as outragous as the Lockerbie bomber being released. And shame on all of the Hollywood figures for backing him up. I am going to boycott all of their films. Woody Allen, figures. They're all a bunch of perverted scumbag directors. Suprised Harvey Weinstein didn't jump on the bandwagon too. He should be treated no differently than every other child rapist. After the whole Jaycee Dugard incident, I think Mr. Polanski is going to jail.

How many other victims has this pedophile left in his wake? Child sex preditors always, yes always, have more than one victim if they can get away with it. In Polanski's case it would be almost assured that he had plenty of other opportunities to repeat. Justice has not been served in this case even if the victim has put it behind her. Also, are the supporters of Polanski telling us that if you commit a crime and then escape from justice for thirty years the crime should be just swept under the rug? Shame on all of you. It makes me wonder what passes for ok in Hollywood. Of course that is a question that isn't hard to figure out in this case. Anyone who has doubts about how guilty Polanski is needs to read the victims grand jury testimony. You will not have doubts afterwards and if your not sickened then your not human. This man is truly scum.

A felon and a fugitive in America is a hero in France! Go figure.

No one has mentioned that Hollywood made Kubrick change Lolita's age from twelve (in the novel) to fourteen (in the movie)? Nabokov made some silly rationale for Humbert Humbert's behavior in the novel blaming it on a childhood incident. Art imitates life.

Polanski liquored up a 13 year old girl, plied her with drugs, then held her down and anally raped her.
Sorry, no matter what his job, his talents, his age, his abilities to stay one foot ahead of the law, he needs to go to jail.
There can be no excuses, no explanations, no apologists.
You rape a child, you belong in jail. Period.

The "victim" in this case says she consented. I understand that because of her age this is still (statutory) rape... but it's ridiculous how media is approaching this issue. The headlines read "Roman Polanski's supporters sending wrong message about rape...", where they should read "Roman Polanski's supporters sending wrong message about hebephilia" or "Roman Polanski's supporters sending wrong message about statutory rape"... as there clearly weren't any "victims". But that wouldn't be sensational enough, would it? If she were a bit younger, and you could get away with it, you'd have titled your article "Roman Polanski's supporters sending wrong message about pedophilia".. as that would be sensational, and not dull or rare, as hebephilia.

Oh well, maybe you'll get lucky next time!

Thanks LA D.A. for not forgetting the carriage of justice. As a survivor of abuse, I can understand why the victim wants it to just go away. However, he deserves to serve his time in JAIL, not in a comfortable life in France. I am not surprised by the movie industry's support since they were disgusting enough to give him an Academy Award, as well as projects and roles in the first place. I am sure they are used to sweeping dirty secrets away.

This determination to have this self admitted rapist and pedophile serve his sentence is a testament for those of us who have suffered that it does matter! Please do not bow to pressure from people who clearly have no regard for defenseless children.. And that fact that his wife was murdered does not excuse him from the crime he committed.

I am a Democrat and fairly liberal and am appalled by the Hollywood elites' defense of this scumbag. Even if the sexual relationship had been consensual, it would still be rape. The fact that then thirteen year old testified before the grand jury that she did not give consent and was given drugs and alcohol is even more horrific. Yet we have people like Martin Scorsese and Howard Weinstein and Woody Allen, the beacon of morality, signing petitions for Polanski's release and Whoopi Goldberg on the View trying to minimize the act by saying it wasn't a" rape rape." And for good measure, guest host Melissa Gilbert reminding us to consider that the girl's parents were in the house at the time (Were charges of reckless endangerment brought against the parents? What sane person would allow a 4o year old man alone in a room with your child to take naked photos?).

All of the defenders are deranged. And shame on the now adult victim for not wanting a rapist to be held accountable for violating a child. Is that what she would want for her own child? What kind of message does it send? And how exactly has Polanski suffered? He had to live in exile in Paris and Switzerland for 30 years while successfully pursuing his directing career.

At the risk of sounding like a Conservative, I would have to agree that Hollywood is really out of touch with the mainstream if they do not think justice should be served by Polanski coming back to face the music. Kudos to prosecutors for continuing to pursue this case. I ' ll be routing for you.

Where do I sign up for Liberals Who Want to See Polanski Do Serious Time? I have a hard time believing that anyone who stands up for him is not a pedophile.

Hurray LA Prosecutors' Office! This is the way the law works, you commit a crime and you must be punished for that crime. This is not about Los Angeles County's need for power and control, it is called justice, which is what we have hired the prosecutors office to do. The only reason Samantha Geimer wants to "move on" is because she has a family now and wants to save herself and family public embarrassment. It's unfortunate that she isn't standing up for herself and the myriad of children who have been raped. Reading her comments in the LA Times I see how her words have been misconstrued, she has not forgiven him, she just does not want more heartache (ie media coverage). Everyone please don't lose sight of the horrible crime that was committed: a man raped a child, not just raped, but sodomized that child. He robbed her of her respect, and her youth. Ask yourself, if you have children, how can anyone who commits this sort of crime ever be redeemed, especially a man who has never suffered because of his crime. I hope that Roman Polanski finally gets his just punishment. I find it abhorrent that people like Debra Winger and Harvey Weinstein support him and forgive him his crime because he is an artist, or because he has "suffered" because of his extradition. This man should have been locked up for years. Living in France and skiing in Switzerland is not punishment. The LA prosecutors should feel shame that they didn't arrest him long ago. Do you think that Polanski's behavior was limited to a one night affair? How many other women or children has he molested in the last 3 decades? The Hollywood directors who are rallying around Polanski are forgetting something important: what would you do if it was your child that he raped and sodomized? I think they would be singing a different tune.

Why do people think there is a time limit on convicting someone of a crime? Is there a time limit on the damage they have done? Why should anyone be immune from justice based on time,wealth,fame or achievement? I feel if he is guilty he should still be punished. If hes innocent why has he spent most of his life overseas? If justice has an expiration date then I fear for the concept of justice itself. We should quit thinking in terms of time and think in terms of serving justice upon those who need to be examined by facts in a court of law. Just because he is a celebrity of some notoriety should make no difference in wether or not on a certain day many years ago he did or didnt commit a crime.If hes innocent he has nothing to fear! If hes guilty then he should pay his debt,its really that simple.

To the signatories of Jewish descent:

If Polanski's rape and sodomy of a child should be forgiven because it happened "30 years ago," should we equally absolve families who are in possession of stolen art from the Holocaust because it happened "60 years ago?"

Why are we being asked to reward the longevity of Polanski's crime? Because he directs movies? Please get some perspective.

Dear Upland Bob,

Liberal progressives don't necessarily side with Polanski on this one!

You don't need to prompt people to look at themselves, we already have an opinion!

You Upland Bob, have made a big assumption.

I voted for Barack Obama and proud of it!

As far as Roman Polanski goes:
He is way past due in serving time for this. He is not going to get off of this easy. He shouldn't. Thirteen is four years younger than seventeen !!!

Yes I agree, this is The State of California vs. Polanski. Absolutely!

To: Leslie Razo "This man should be left alone" ? Huh? Because he "suffered" from the Manson murder of his wife he should be excused for raping a child??? I don't get your logic. So, if your child is raped, are you going to forgive the assailant because he had a hard life himself? I think not, or do you not have children, as I suspect.

I read the victim's grand jury testimony on thesmokinggun.com and it reads like a classic "how-to" for peodophiles to groom and then sexually abuse adolescents.

I find the excuses made by Hollywood, using the term "so-called" and blaming the authorities with "philistine" principles to be really, really creepy.

What other covicted felon in a sexual abuse case gets this type of excuse making? So he's been dodging justice for 30 years? So did that Serbian-American that the FBI recently sent back to Serbia to face charges.

Polanski had the opportunity to plead "not guilty" and have his day in court. He chose instead to plead guilty, and to admit knowing the victim was just 13 years of age (when the age of consent was 18). He acknowledged at his plea hearing that he understood the judge was not bound by the prosecutor's plea deal sentencing recommendation.

I think as a father, Polanski would not want his daughter Morgane to be left at the age of 13 in the clutches of a 43 year old man who plied her with alcohol, a sedative, took pictures of her partially unclothed, and after she was sufficiently stoned, sexually assaulted and sodomized her.

But maybe he, and his defenders, would be fine with giving their 13 year old daughters to such men for safe keeping...

This guy is a total creep and RAPED A 13 year old girl!

Leslie Razo, you can't be serious. HE RAPED A 13 YEAR OLD CHILD! Yet you think that he should be excused for this atrocity because his wife was killed? You make me sick.

« | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: