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Roman Polanski -- defiant, patient and everything in between -- finally speaks out

May 2, 2010 |  9:01 pm

Simply writing the words Roman Polanski can evoke reactions both passionately defensive and virulently angry. So we can only imagine how readers will feel upon hearing words from the embattled/polarizing director himself.

Pol As you may have heard, for the first time since he was arrested in Switzerland more than seven months ago, Polanski has spoken out. The director had been considered the interview get to end all interview gets (although he had, in his own way, communicated with the moviegoing masses with the release of his well-received "The Ghost Writer" in the U.S. earlier this year). But like so many in this blog-happy age, he decided to go directly to the public -- "without any intermediaries," in his phrase -- posting an entry on Sunday on the blog of French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy.

In an unusually personal passage, Polanski pleads for clemency. "I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else." Then, in  eight distinct statements that begin with the phrase "I can remain silent no longer," Polanski recounts the ways he says he felt misled and mistreated by California legal authorities.

The essence of Polanski's claim is that, as his supporters have argued, he was led to believe that his time in a state facility in Chino would constitute his full sentence, and has been frustrated for the past three decades as U.S. authorities have maintained otherwise. "The request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie," he writes.

"I can remain silent no longer because for over 30 years my lawyers have never ceased to insist that I was betrayed by the judge, that the judge perjured himself, and that I served my sentence," referring to the decision by Laurence Rittenband to potentially deport and/or sentence Polanski to more jail time after the time served in Chino, which prompted Polanski's fleeing in September 1977.

Perhaps most substantively, Polanski says that the current extradition request is informed by both personal resentments and publicity calculations. "I can no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago."

Polanski also notes Marina Zenovich's 2008 documentary "Wanted and Desired," which, although it has been responsible for both the authorities and the public looking at the case in a new light, Polanski argues may also have paradoxically created the conditions for a vendetta. Zenovich's film "not only highlighted the fact that I left the United States because I had been treated unjustly; it also drew the ire of the Los Angeles authorities, who felt that they had been attacked and decided to request my extradition from Switzerland, a country I have been visiting regularly for over 30 years without let or hindrance."

Citing that he has mortgaged his apartment to post bail and noting the limitations created by his house arrest in a home in the Swiss mountain town of Gstaad, Polanski concludes with a further plea. "Such are the facts I wished to put before you in the hope that Switzerland will recognize that there are no grounds for extradition, and that I shall be able to find peace, be reunited with my family, and live in freedom in my native land" (a reference to France, where he was born and his family lives, and to which he has been unable to return as he remains under house arrest pending the U.S. extradition request).

As it has from the beginning, the Polanski case is about more than just one filmmaker and his battle, just or not, against the U.S judicial system. It touches on several hot-button issues: child protection (complicated further when the child, now grown, says she has been protected enough), and the treatment of Hollywood personalities and all the various standards applied to them.

Is this statement enough to change anyone's opinion, least of all the U.S. district attorneys who can end the extradition request? Like almost no other polarizing figure in this polarized age, the mention of Polanski gets passions burning and tongues wagging. Which means the answer is: probably not. The blog entry may ease Polanski's internal sense of unease. What it won't do is change minds. In fact, the comments are just likely to harden them. New evidence in the case didn't affect most people's opinions, so words from the man himself will likely only embolden those calling for the dismissal of charges -- and once again raise the ire of those who feel he hasn't been brought to justice.

-- Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: Roman Polanski on the set of "The Ghost Writer."
Credit: Guy Farrandis / Summit Entertainment

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Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

he did his time now let the man alone-whats said here is just a publicity witch hunt not unlike the McCarthy hearings in the mid '50's

I'm glad he's not asking for pity. What he deserves is unmitigated contempt.



This is NOTHING like the McCarthy hearings.

The McCarthy hearings were probing government officials blindly accused of being in the communist pary.

Polanski is an admitted child rapist fugitive.


Mr. Polanski's house arrest in a Swiss chalet with a beautiful view, where he could continue to entertain without bars, was not serving any sentence.

Mr. Polanski has marshalled Hollywood forces to suggest that if his child-victim says it was ok, leave it alone, then that should be enough.

It isn't.

I hope nobody sets any precedent here. This could mean in the future that molesters who pressure their child victims to shut up or say what that victim said, should be set free.


Catholic priests too?

Mr. Polanski thinks he is above the law. The previous time served is nowhere near the correct prison term. He has enjoyed freedom for a long time past his guilty plea. He has no written signed version of that dead judge's so-called promise.

Get real. Many people feel like judges have screwed them, including me.

Brilliant movie producers have no special rights to rape children 1/3rd their age after they get them drunk.

Serve the time, Polanksi. You are a child raper.

I think Roman Polanski's situation also touches on issues having to do with victim's rights (which, in this case, would involve knowing all details of the controversy), out of control District Attorney's who use celebrity trials to further their own political ambitions (see also Phil Spector matter which is clearly an unconscionable travesty of justice); and why the Appellate Court is unable to address what it believes to be an urgent situation that demands an investigation. Who, precisely, is supposed to investigate the corruption in the Polanski and Spector matters? Clearly not the Los Angeles Times.

Kelley Lynch

“Wow. Amazing stuff here. First off, she was both vaginally and anally penetrated after having been drugged. The medical evidence clearly demonstrate this. I can never quite understand why so many who argue for Polanski in this matter have such little grasp of the facts of the case.

Why are so many defending a jerk who raped a 13 year old girl anyway?”
I have three daughters here in California, and if you did what you did to any of them, the few years you would serve in prison would never be enough for the pain and anguish you would have caused my family. 13 years old . . . What were you thinking?

You think 42 days is Justice for raping a little girl? Dude get real! You are a pedophile, and I wonder how many other victims you got away with, since your method was to knock them out with drugs. Sick Man . . . Sick.

If you do the crime, you need to do the time. In China you would be killed by their justice system, and in less then a year. Be thankful you raped her in California.

You make me sick. If your fans think you should be free, then they obviously don’t have daughters of their own. I hope the Swiss see you for what you really are, a pedophile who sodomizes young innocent girls, a coward, and someone who lived most of their life without the memories of doing time in a state prison. (Misdemeanor criminals serve 6 months to 12 months, you are a felon, 42 days? Whatever.)

Mr Steele

people who want to let it go need to read this first:

I can't believe that Kelley Lynch has seriously posted a comment suggesting that this is about ambitious district attorneys. It's also flabbergasting that she calls the trial and conviction of murderer Phil Spector a "travesty of justice." Not just a "travesty" - an "unconscionable travesty."

The evidence presented to the grand jury in the Polanski case shows that an adult male provided alcohol and barbiturates to a minor. Minors cannot legally consent to sexual relations anyway under California law, but let's compound that with the fact that he plied her with alcohol and drugs. He then had sex with her, vaginally and anally, when she was legally, physiologically, and mentally incapable of giving informed consent. The man fled when he discovered that he might actually have to do a little jail time for that rather than simply be rubberstamped by a shrink.

As far as the Spector case goes, the man was tried, evidence of his guilt was presented, and it was overwhelming. He was convicted. The "corruption" of which you speak appears to be an invention of your own imagination.

Quit wasting tax payers money, this case is 33 years old and very likely mishandled by the original judge. They will never get a conviction, Polanski wouldn't have pleaded guilty and spent time in jail if there was no bargain. The victim wants it over with, nobody considers her feelings in all this mess. I'm not saying that Polanski is a saint, but realistically they need to let it go.

I can't believe his b.s. When you drug and rape a child, no reasonable person thinks their only sentence will be a 42 day psychiatric exam. I can't believe people have the nerve to say "he served his time." He served nothing. Those 42 days weren't even prison time, he was in special whiny baby protective custody. That's not time for assaulting a child. The man is a criminal, not only for his horrendous assault on a child, but also because he fled the country to avoid sentencing. The laws apply to everyone equally, even self-important "artists."


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