Monday, September 28, 2009
The Roman Polanski Case- A Test for Justice
Convicted child-rapist Roman Polanski-Extradict the rat.
"But he's a great artist."
The news of Roman Polanski's recent arrest in Zurich on an LA County arrest warrant is going to put a lot of people to the test when it comes to meting out justice. Polanski, a native of France, has lived in that country, immune from extradition back to the US since 1978 when he fled our country prior to sentencing after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. Finally, after all these years, one country (Switzerland) has lived up to its responsibility to enforce an international arrest warrant. Now the question is whether our own law enforcement and diplomatic officials will demand Polanski's extradition to be sentenced for what he has already pleaded guilty to.
Of course, Hollywood is in a predictable uproar and charging to Polanski's defense. ("Hey! what's the big deal about having sex with a 13-year-old? He's a great director".)
Film mogul Harvey Weinstein has joined a campaign by Cannes Film Festival Director Thierry Fremaux and French film-makers calling on US authorities not to extradite Polanski.
"We're calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation," Weinstein said.
(Polanski pleaded guilty.)
Polanski's allies in Hollywood maintain that there were flaws in the case against the director.
(He pleaded guilty.)
In addition, Samantha Geimer the girl Polanski raped when she was 13, has called on the authorities to dismiss the charges.
With all due respect, assuming she has not been "prevailed upon" by Polanski's friends, this is out of her hands. She has no right to stop this case since he has already pleaded guilty and could repeat the offense against other under-age girls (which possibly he already has in the last three decades in France).
And then there's an article written in the LA Times by film columnist Patrick Goldstein, who questioned the ethics of spending taxpayer's money to extradite Polanski in the face of so many California budget cuts!!??!
"At a time when California is shredding the safety net that protects the poor and the unemployed, not to mention the budget of the public school system, you'd hope that LA County prosecutors had better things to do than cause an international furor [sic] by hounding a film director for a 32-year-old sex crime, especially one that Polanski's victim wants to put it behind her," Goldstein wrote. He went on to say this:
"Whether the LA County district attorney's office has its way or not, it is not a story that can have a happy ending. I think Polanski has already paid a horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions. The real tragedy is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn't enough."
(He pleaded guilty. He fled before sentencing.)
Then there is this pearl from Washington Post writer Anne Applebaum: "To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system."
(He pleaded guilty-to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.)
Finally, there are the conspiracy theorists who speculate that "political motives" may be behind the whole thing. According to these voices, the Swiss are trying to score points with US authorities in the face of the Union Bank of Switzerland banking scandal involving US tax evaders, something that has no basis in fact and has already been denied by Swiss authorities.
Now it is up to the LA District Attorney's Office to ignore the voices of Hollywood and the Frenchies and demand that the US Justice Department proceed through diplomatic channels with a formal extradition request. Polanski stands convicted of a heinous crime. The Statute of Limitations is not at issue since it doesn't toll once the defendant becomes a fugitive. It goes without saying that flight is an element of evidence of a guilty mind. Polanski is guilty of this crime under the law and should be sent back to the US for sentencing that has only been delayed 31 years because he fled.
We should all be following this case to see if US authorities do their duty.