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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 spectacle of so-called 'artists' like Scorsese 'demanding' the release of the child rapist and malignant narcissist Roman Polanski is so very illuminating. His pathetic, coddled, vastly over-privileged fellow narcissists are but defending their own class right to abuse those who are not counted among their modern aristocracy. Remember this the next time one of these low-lives offers their opinion on virtually any subject; to a narcissist, the only thing that is real is themselves. The malignant narcissist extends that self to what rightfully belongs to others--life, body, sexuality, innocence, even soul. Pedophiles take all of these, if they can, and often construct elaborate self-images that cast themselves as victims, as has Polanski, and their victims as 'students' who needed their victimizers 'tutelage'.

You can't excuse what he did, and you can't let it go, but I think you can look at the full picture after several decades.

To ban him from the United States, and arrest him if he ever returns? Yes, that is fair since he chose to evade our legal system.

To go hunting him down in other countries after several decades, with his tragic history, his family, the victim's wishes, the lack of current risk posed, and the contrary sentiments in other countries? I see little gained.

De facto banishment seems to me the fair and less destructive way to deal with this.

I find it disturbing to read comments that state charges against Polanski should be dropped because of the trauma of losing his wife and unborn child in such a horrific manner. Many people have lives filled with trauma and abuse. Should they too be allowed to rape a child? Of course not.

It is a sad commentary on our star struck culture that there are those among us who would excuse the sexual abuse of a child based on the talent of the offender. As if money or power or wealth make the crime acceptable or lesser because the perpetrator is somehow special and therefore above the law. If Polanski was just some man that doped and raped a 13 year old child then he would be shipped back to the States without hesitation, face a bevy of additional charges in addition to the original charges he plead guilty to, and serve the time he is due and so rightly deserves. I hope that the authorities treat him like the pedophile that he is, thereby sending the message that our children are sacred and no amount of power or influence can excuse his heinous act.

I'm a heavy-duty, liberal progressive and I think Polanski should get life in prison. Just because some of his friends think he has "served his time" - I don't. Liberals believe in equal justice before the law, regardless of your fame or fortune.

I find it HIGHLY AMUSING that Woody Allen is defending Polanski. They have more in common than being directors.

He raped a 13 year old girl, he has admitted to it. How can anyone support him? What if it was your daughter? If fact he should be punished for the rape as well as escaping the law and living as a fugitive for over 30 years. For justice to prevail he would have to spend the rest of his natural born life behind bars.

Upland Bob, me and my friends are as liberal as they come...and we all believe "you commit the crime, you do the time." Don't make this partisan politics. This crime doesn't concern me, it concerns the law. You have anal sex with an unconsenting minor, you best get caught and suffer the consequences . Justice, godspeed.

Call me a "philistine" but his drugging, raping and sodomizing a thirteen-year-old middle-school girl and then becoming a fugitive from justice is more important to me than his movie-making skills.

Coddling a rapist may make Polanski's morally bankrupt supporters feel smug. It makes me sick with disgust.

However, I must thank them for speaking out and signing a petition. It makes it so much easier to know whom to boycott.

Those calling for this man's release are sick.

The man admitted to having relations with a minor.

He should go to jail. Period.

As a french citizen living in France now, I'm absolutely outraged by our politician's behaviour ! The French are NOT supporting Polansli at all !!
I'll say that 90 % of the population here believe that justice should be the same for everyone... France hid Polanski for 30 years, now it's time for him to face the facts as ANYONE. Talent has nothing to do with this...

Woody Allen defending a creep who drugged and raped a 13 year old.

Wow. So, just when you think someone's lost their ability to be funny, they come up with something so rich.

He anal raped a 13 year old girl after drugging her, then flees from justice!
His celebrity somehow should exonerate him from this hideous crime?
He produces great pictures, so what.
If a construction worker labors well does that mean he can commit rape?
How can any actress stand up for him?
I really don't get it.

If he wasn't rich he woluldn't have any problem. It is hypocrisy of Americans. Many such examples wasn't finished by the senteces.

francaise, je ne soutiens pas la position des artistes et politiques envers R.Polanski.
Il s'agit bien d'un crime et il doit etre juge.
Nombreux francais et francaises sont avec la position americaine.
Personne ne peut avoir une relation sexuelle avec une fillette de 13 ans, encore moins s'il a plus de 40 ans.
Cela est reprehensible et doit etre juge.

Kafka is back.
Mahatma KH

I know nothing and everything.
With love.

The rule of law of California is in a crisis. That Polanski still would have to pay for what has been - as suggested - selected from among his many crimes, is a bit absurd, and is a flaw. It is also traumatising to the victim, whose reason transcends her indignation more diligent than the law. Polanski calls forth sinister images, and also intensifies prejudice, which is part of his work, and his life, his life's work, a mission which has more often gone over his head. Guilt is a philosophical question here.
I don't know much about Polanski and his films, so I cannot be a supporter, and I never brought them up in a talk, but they were brought up several times to me by girls, I now understand better why - a thirteen-year old girl had involuntary sex with the director who was known as an adult - but I always knew that his personal life and films have something in common. Crime is intertwined everywhere, especially in our feelings and thoughts, and nobody is innocent.
I once spoke with a woman, and I had an impression of something strange, which I asked her could relate to anything from her experience. I cannot assure you it is true, but from the detail I mentioned, she remembered that she visited a house for sale in Los Angeles, with her family who wanted to buy it at the time, which was next door to the one where among others Polanski's wife Sharon Tate was murdered afterwards, and that she had had a very strange feeling there. She was only a child then. Her parents haven't bought the house. Shortly afterwards it seems the killers went through the garden of that house to enter.

Murderers often have a desire to go through my backyard, by the way, I don't know why.
(A possibility is:
1. They try to be something they are not.
2. They try to borrow from my innocence.
This may apply,
also in this case.)

Nobody has ever been the same since.

It is really bizarre that some of the big names in Hollywood cinema factory are defending Roman Polanski and asking for his release.This will be a real defeat for all those children and women who have been raped by rich and influential people.It is high time people like Woody Allen stop supporting a man who committed a horrible crime.

Kudos to Steve Lopez for his article on this pig Polanski. Lopez is a voice of common sense and reason on his Polanski article! Well done Steve. It's so unbelievable the lengths some people will play mind-twister in their heads attempting to justify this person's actions! Also I find it curious that no one questions his overt interest in teen girls. Remember Nastassja Kinski? She was only 15 when Roman and her began a "relationship". He's quite something and not in a good way obviously.

Keep the truth going on about this case. Don't let it get bogged down with un-truthes published in the LA rags.

Finally, can you find to "rape-rape" means? Obviously Whoopie it truly reaching at straws to back up this pervert.

He is disgusting.

Yup, there it is, one justice system for the the Hollywood "Elite" and one for the rest of us. What happen to Sharon Tate should also not be allowed as an "excuse" for his behavior.

Oh yesw, Woody Allen the morals cop! They are both lower than dog poop!

What in God's name makes you think that just because I voted for Obama, I condone what Polanski did to this young girl? You're painting with the same broad, uninformed brush as someone who says anyone who opposes Obama is a racist.

From Facebook Comments Thread I read:

This has been a very frustrating thread to read simply because it is a lesson in illogical/2D thought. It is confounding that so many people filter this story through a single talking point that they picked up either on TV or in a movie.

1) Tax Dollars - Tax dollars? Wow, all the money you have can not buy back the precedent allowing this kind of behavior to go unpunished creates.
It is a slippery slope to begin metering out justice based on cost per convict.

2) Consensual Sex - A 13 year old can not consent to sex. To make that comment you are ignorant of the law and lack common sense. I have heard "reports" of bigfoot but I am not in the woods with a camera. Its absurd to assert a 13 year old can consent; to say so shames this discussion and the poster. Children have the ability to parrot adult emotions but they can not fake experience. They play house together and mimic adult roles...but they are not adults. It is impossible for a 13 year old to have a complete understanding of her environment. The assertion that because the girl lived in "the fast lane" she was more prepared to deal with this sort of experience is fundamentally flawed. If anything not having a "stable" environment makes children more susceptible to predators. There is an inherent vulnerability in these children, not only they are exposed to all sorts of shady characters, but also because they don't have a chance to go through a healthy maturation process. No matter how intelligent a child may seem, they are without life experience and more importantly lack perspective. To believe the child has any real emotional control over their life is inane. Its simply not true and doesn't hold up to any scrutiny. I am flabbergasted by the repetition of this comment

3) Iran/Iraq/More Important Issues - I assure you the LAPD has nothing to do with preventing Nukes in Iran. That is like saying the Royal Canadian Mounted police is ignoring its duty in Darfur. If rape is too small a crime to be pursued, maybe we should start other cut backs as well? Perhaps we could stop giving out speed tickets until there is peace in Iraq? Maybe, there aren't enough resources to justify drug bust in Chicago until China cleans up its environment. You are making a spurious connection between this case and misappropriation of resources. The two things are unrelated and it make no sense to belabor this point any further.

4) Semantics of the Charge - Is it Rape or Assault? Is she a minor or a child? Look, debating semantics mitigates the crime – even if unintentionally. It creates room for discussion and doubt. It muddies the water and creates areas for debate to exist in a situation that should have NO debate. It is in those gray areas that people find justification and are able to rationalize terrible actions.
Let me make this very clear - He drugged and sodomized a 13 year old girl. He drugged and sodomized a 13 year old girl. He drugged and sodomized a 13 year old girl. He has admitted that he committed the crime and if you are on here in his defense you are a sick individual – either too in love with your own intellect and contrarian nature to do the right thing OR a sycophant to a pedophile. Either way I am sad that I share the air with you.

5) It was Plot, Victim & Mom's Fault - A 13 year old drunk and on drugs is not capable of manipulating a 40+ year old man. It is utterly insensitive and insane to make that sort of statement. Any attempt to shade the 13 year old girl as complicit in her own victimization is truly disgusting - but considering our societies history with sexual assault not surprising. By saying these you are re-iterating the ubiquitous pedophile/rapist defense – “she was asking for it”. Nice. Real class on your part.

6) She Forgave Him, Let it go - the recidivism rates for people that engage in pedophilia/rape is ridiculous high and it is extremely unlikely we are talking about a onetime thing here. The fact that his crime was premeditated and deliberate implies this is a proclivity not a mistake. Even if the victim forgives the rapist it is societies job to punish him - both to set an example and to protect others.

7) Where were her parents? - You ask, "Where were the girl's parents when she was hanging out with Jack and Roman?"...I have no idea what bearing that has on Polanski's duty to be a moral human being but I ask you - What wholesome reason would a 44 year old man have for hanging out with a 13 year old girl?

Bottom Line: When you repost any of these seven counter points you are helping to propagate ignorance. The man raped a child. There is no debate to be had. I am not sure if these reoccurring defensive tactics are a result of media talking points or just faulty logic, but either way it is disgusting. Making these comments diminishes you for posting and punctuates how difficult it is for sexual assaults to be taken seriously in our society. It is a sad sad thing to see the pro-Polanski comments on here. The great irony is that the pro-Polanski faction imagines themselves as "open minded" and "forward thinking", but in the end they are helping an old rich man get away with victimizing a small child and the justice system. When I am called "provincial" or accused of "living in a bygone era" I have to chuckle - as if the morals of this situation are just too old fashioned. If it wasn't so sad I really would laugh.

Why is this so confusing? He is a criminal who fled the country and should have been brought to justice years ago. That he is a very talented and admired film maker is an unfortunate circumstance but should not absolve him from his crime. He is a fugitive and should be brought back to the United States and face the laws and judiciary process that were made to govern our society. Anything less is just paving the way for further disregard of the law.

I also have to think here about Sai baba who has been accused of pedophilia.
But let's admit it: Polanski didn't play football.

WITCH HUNT??? No PREDATOR HUNT. Read the transcripts of the Grand Jury and tell me that if that wasn't your 13 year old daughter you would just turn the other cheek. This is what is so damaging to young girls who have been raped or molested. People care more about the impact it has on the rapist than the impact it has on the child. She was 13...13. He was in his 40's. Why this man is now considered the victim I do not understand nor care to understand.

Oh, and by the way I am a blue blooded LEFT OF THE LEFT Liberal. But wrong is wrong.

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