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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)

Have we gone back into the dark ages when royalty could have their way with the peasants without fear of justice?

Could the Hollywood elite be any more out of touch with reality? A 43 year old guy has sex with a 13 year old girl -- barely a teenager! -- then goes on the run when he has to face justice.
Yet, these people want him to go free?
What kind of message does that send? If you are rich, justice doesn't apply to you. If you run from the law you don't have to pay your dues. Raping a child is a forgivable crime.
If Roman Polanski were a CPA, these same Hollywood elites would either not care or would support punishing him.
Justice should be blind, not a popularity contest- let's keep it that way.

Now we see how morally bankrupt leftists really are, don't we. How can they support a child rapist? How?

I agree that prosecuting cases against rapists are traumatizing to the victims. We should do more to protect victims from further pain and suffering. But that shouldn't prevent us as a society from punishing the criminals. They are horrible crimes and deserve harsh punishments.

In this case, however, there is a mind-numbingly simple solution. Bring Polanski back, try him for flight from prosecution, and put him in jail.

And as others have said in their posts, send a strong message to Hollywood by not spending money to see films starring or directed by those who think they and their inner circle are beyond prosecution.

Why isn't/wasn't he treated like any other pedophile? Will he be forced to live away from schools and bus stops or any other place children gather? Will he be forced to register with state sex offender databases? Will he be forced to live in a tent in the middle of the woods, along with other sex offenders who can't find a place to live? Will his hard drives be scanned for child pornography, or are his, "movies," okay because making movies, "is his job," and because, "he's an artist?" Can any other pedophile use that excuse, too, and move to France? Is France a safe haven for pedophiles? (I'd gladly let some of my tax dollars slip for those plane tickets...)

Why is the media merely referring to him as a, "rapist," and totally neglecting the, "pedophile," label? Is, "rapist," somehow more socially acceptable? Is that now a highlightable resume item to have in the entertainment industry?

Why is anyone defending him at all? Because of what happened to him in his past? Isn't, "their past," almost always the reason people like this exist??? By this reasoning, shouldn't all pedophiles, rapists and murderers also, "be left alone?"

Maybe, had Polanski merely beaten her and let the photos get out, he'd have been in jail (of course, if she had a recording contract, that would have helped). Maybe, had he interrupted someone else's award acceptance speech with a statement like, "getting 13-year olds drunk and molesting them is the best experience in the world," he'd be receiving some sort of condemnation.

Maybe, if he had been black, or hispanic or poor, white trash, he'd have spent the last 30 years learning what it was like for his victim to be forced to have sex -- in prison.

But no. Instead, he was rewarded and is still protected -- even by the willing media, who seem to overlook little things like, "pedophilia," in favor of more fashionable, entertainment career-friendly terms like, "rape."

That, to me, is the greater crime.

YOUR 13 year old daughter just had "CONSENUAL" sex with 40 something year old rich man. By the way it involved the man giving her champagne and drugs.
What's your next move????

Good morning: Steve Lopez of the LA Times today writes an enlightening column on Polanski's crime and the victim's verbatim testimony. As a Christian, sexual molestation crimes like this test our discipleship. We agree w/ Lopez's statement, "Polanski's crime was graphic, manipulative and heinous, and he got a pass." However in being molded as Christians, we also recognize as imperfect, sinful beings when we come to Christ we partake of of His pardoning grace. God forgives. I pray Polanski repents for his sins and is forgiven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Who do people worry about the victim not wanting to to thru a court case? HE PLEASDED QUILTY. no courts, no jury, it's the judge now. Wake up people he commited a crime. Period. A Crime he did not pay for. If you think living in another country, make films, getting married, having children, getting awards is paying for a crime, your're crazy as the hollywood nuts.

i almost choked on my coffee when i read that the petition was signed by...woody allen! Maybe they can summon the spirit of charlie chaplin to come and defend polanski. I bet if harvey weinstein was raped in the anus he would have a different take on what constitiutes a crime. My biggest disappointment was reading that scorcese signed the petition to free polanski. Wow marty...i thought u might be a regular guy. Interestingly, one name not on the petition...Jack Nickolson.

Good morning: Steve Lopez of the LA Times today writes an enlightening column on Polanski's crime and the victim's verbatim testimony. As a Christian, sexual molestation crimes like this test our discipleship. We agree w/ Lopez's statement, "Polanski's crime was graphic, manipulative and heinous, and he got a pass." However in being molded as Christians, we also recognize as imperfect, sinful beings when we come to Christ we partake of of His pardoning grace. God forgives. I pray Polanski repents for his sins and is forgiven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

I'm thirteen , so I'm old enough to make a comment -- but PLEASE don't tell Polanski!

Once again the Hollywood Liberal Elitists can't see the forest for the trees. I wonder how many of them would be so accommodating to Polanski if he had raped their 13 year old daughter? I don't know, maybe pedophilia is accepted in Hollywood? I live in the Midwest and perverts like Polanski either serve time or are serve the earthworms. In Hollywood, they are celebrated and even given Oscars. I wonder how many would be so supportive if Polanski was a Republican? Just remember, every time you take a public political position, you alienate up to half your audience. Look no further than Ben Affleck for an example and Will Ferrell is headed there too. Too bad really, Old School and Anchorman are a couple of my favorites, but now I won't go pay money to subsidize his political activism. See you on THS, Will.

It's sad how people are blinded by someones talent and accomplishments. Where are the celebrities that support the actions of the L.A. prosecutors. It's hard for me to overlook how celebrities get a free pass from the public. For instance, look how Michael Jackson was recently celebrated and he clearly beat his charges because of his fame. If you doubt this... would you have let your children spend the night with him? ALONE? If so your a bad parent. Lets face it our values are to easily swept aside for a little entertainment, it's just that simple. By the way what happened to just boycotting celebrities that have done wrong and the celebrities that associate with them. Are we really that weak?

To David Lynch, I'm disappointed in you! You're eccentric and an excellent filmmaker, but I didn't think you were misguided. What a shame.

Its like a really old forgotten trap that catches both the prey and the hunter. Seriously, once the Marshals filled out the paperwork and the trap sprung, what else could the DA do but go ahead and attempt to bring what technically amounts to an escaped felon to sentencing.
Its a no-win situation inasmuch that you must try to bring felons to justice from overseas, or more will run. On the other hand, lots of expense and time are spent on, in this case, a person that realistically no longer is a threat to society. During this very real budget disaster, lots will be made of the waste of resources by some bottom-liners: prehaps rightly so.
This is one celeb case that might prove really interesting!

Upland Bob - this is certainly not a case of progressives versus conservatives. The feminist community in particular is up in arms over the support that these directors have given Polanski, and many are already calling for boycotts of their films. And it's not just feminists that are outraged. Visit just about any liberal blog and you'll find the same thing. The fact that a few directors and industry people who are circulating a petition on Polanski's behalf is only getting a lot of attention because of the celebrity involved.

Since it is so acceptable to rape a child and not be prosecuted he can make this story into his next movie and he can play himself to get it again.......so sickening so Hollywood.

I must that I am stunned - simply stunned - to see that Woody Allen is leaping to the defense of a man who had sex with a 13-year-old.

This is so disgusting. I knew that Hollywood types were on the odd side but this goes beyond anything I could have imagined. I will be printing out the list of people who signed the petition to let him go and will be on watch so I do not see any of their work. Wes Andersen's new movie will be on top of the list not to see. I have already sent emails to all my friends who have children not to see it. I do have a question if the child have been black or a male would make any difference to them? It seems that it's ok to rape little girls as long as they are white. Look at all the pedophiles who have gotten off easy but then people are outraged about the girl they just found who was kidnapped 18 years ago. It just doesn't make sense.

to all you Polanski supporters, I know somebody who would "consensually" babysit your 13 year old daughter, sister or niece. He might even throw in a pool party, champagne and Quaalude just to keep them relaxed.....OPEN YOUR EYES YOU L-O-S-E_R-S...Roman is a PERVERT!!!!

I cannot believe what I am reading and hearing regarding Roman Polanski and the rape of 13 year old girl. Just because he is a “genius” director he shouldn’t be punished for the act he committed against a child. Then I guess Michael Vick shouldn’t have had to go to jail for what he did to dogs because he was a “special” athlete.

Come on now – none of this makes a lick of sense. He committed a crime – he goes to jail. He fled from having to serve his time – he should have to do extra time for that charge too. He cannot get off just because he is famous! If he has a problem with how the court handled it – file an appeal. That’s how everyone else has to do it. That’s how he should have to do it too.

And because bad things happened in his life - well, that shouldn't erase his bad behavior. It usually doesn't with normal people.

I say to jail with him!!!!!

What's so difficult to understand? The special people in LA believe they deserve a different brand of justice that ranges from DUI's to assault to murder. What's the big deal about an afternoon drugging and raping a 13 year old? Killers walk free in this town because of who they are while other folks from the hood have the rest of their lives ruined over much more minor offenses. Man, I bet Adnan Jon is steamed about this, he just didn't quite make the fame cut. Justice is only for the middle and lower classes, and of course wealthy white republican businessmen from Orange County.

Why do people want to demonize Roman Polanski. What is this holier than thou attitude. No one condones what he did. But there is a problem with tricking him into a plea bargain to get a confession and then renege on the agreement- this is an abuse of power at County of Los Angeles Santa Monica Courthouse more than 30 years ago.

In addition the world forgave Ted Kennedy for killing a girl. The Brits even Knighted him. Why is there not the same forgiveness in this case?

To understand Roman Polanksi you must know that he grew up in Hitler’s Poland where his mother was sent to a concentration camp and died there. When the Nazis were coming for him as a child - his father told him to“RUN, RUN” So that is what he learned from childhood in order to survive - to RUN.

Later in life in Santa Monica when the Judge and Prosecutor began to trick him into his confession and later reneged on the plea bargain agreement, he ran to save his life just as he ran from the Nazis as a child who would have slaughtered him. As an adult Polanski was not able to distinguish the difference between the Nazis and the County of Los Angeles justice system and when he was threatened with injustice he wanted to survive.

Roman Polanski in alleging Judicial and/or prosecutorial misconduct at County of Los Angeles Santa Monica Courthouse vis a vis the plea bargain arrangement – This not the first time there has been Judicial Misconduct - an abuse of power at Santa Monica Courthouse.
Arresting Roman Polanski now and after 31 years seems to be more about Los Angeles County's need to control.

On the other hand when it suits County of Los Angeles's 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 which is perpetrated by white Santa Monica Community College District professors -

Undocumented White Sheriff Deputies whose identities are later hidden by County of Los Angeles are used to assault and batter the white woman in a Santa Monica courtroom because they report being sexually molested in a class at a Santa Monica Educational Institution and the institution's police cover up of it. Then the County of Los Angeles uses African American Sheriff Deputies to cover up the assault and battery and Judicial misconduct and to infer a racial problem when in fact it is a sexual discrimination and retaliation problem, not a racial problem.

The County of Los Angeles action in regards to Roman Polanski is hypocritical since the County of Los Angeles and their employees - do NOT care about white women who have been sexually assaulted and have acted in concert to oppress at least one molested women in Santa Monica by assaulting and battering her in the Santa Monica Courthouse in 1998 and terrorizing and framing her.

The extradition of Roman Polanski now is more about Los Angeles County's need for control - than anything else. It is a law agency out of control - that points the finger at others wrongdoing but ignores its own.

Everyone needs to be treated fairly in Santa Monica by County of Los Angeles justice system whether you are the perpetrator of sexual assault or the recipient of it.

Pedophile. Pure and simple.

To Bob, Upland: Like others have said, don't brand all liberal-minded people like me (i'm an Independent, not a Democrat) as being sympethizers of Polanski and the Hollywood elite. Most of us have little in common with them. They are eccentric snobs who would shun us just as quickly as they would the average Conservative/Republican (unless they're wealthy).

To Tiara James: I don't know where to start. You need to do more research on the Polanski case (try reading the Grand Jury transcripts for starters) before flapping your gums. I had to laugh at your statement insinuating that Polanski was tricked into a plea bargain in order to get a confession. The man was damned lucky to be offered any plea bargain. Polanski was indicted for furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, committing a lewd or lascivious act upon a child under 14, unlawful sexual intercourse, rape by use of drugs, perversion (oral copulation) and sodomy. Of all these charges, he plead guilty to only one, unlawful sexual intercourse, for which he was to serve a sentence at the judge's discretion, regardless of any prior agreement. Judges have the power to change the terms of the sentence within the boundaries of the law and sentencing guidelines.

As a Liberal Independent, I say lock him up.

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