I simply cannot get my head around the outrage some very prominent people in the film industry and some politicians in France are expressing about the arrest of filmmaker Roman Polanski as he arrived in Switzerland to attend a film festival.
These are the facts that Polanski himself has admitted:
In March 1977 Roman Polanski invited a 13-year-old girl to come to Jack Nicholson's house, where Polanski was staying. Nicholson was not there.
Polanski, who then 46, told the girl he wanted her to pose for photos for a magazine for which he was acting as a guest editor. He gave her Champagne and a Quaalude.
He knew she was only 13. He even called the child's mother to tell her they were delayed. The frightened girl asked to leave. Polanski photographed her naked in a hot tub. He then had oral and vaginal sex with the girl. Later he penetrated her anally.
The girl testified before a grand jury that she repeatedly asked him to stop, that she was afraid and that they were alone in the house.
Polanski pled guilty to sex with a minor in a plea bargain that was struck to spare the girl public exposure. The plea bargain dropped the rape and sodomy charges, something I find outrageous still. But Polanski feared he might have to spend time in jail. Even though he had pled guilty to a felony, he was allowed to remain free pending sentencing. During that time, a judge gave permission for him to travel abroad for some film work, and so in 1977, he left the country and never came back.
He has been living in France since then, traveling the world, getting on with his nice life, continuing his film work, winning awards and accolades.
The girl, now a woman, has long since identified herself -- her name is Samatha Griemer -- and has said that she has forgiven Polanski and that she wants the criminal case to go away.
"I have survived , indeed prevailed, against whatever harm Mr. Polanski may have caused me as a child."
I applaud her for that. But while she may have prevailed over Polanski, he has not paid for his crime against her.
Let's be clear what that crime was. A grown man lured a child to a house with lies, drugged her, photographed her naked, and then raped and sodomized her. Then he fled the country to avoid punishment.
I don't care how rich he is, how famous he is, how talented he is, this is despicable behavior. What's more, it's criminal behavior.
And it gets worse. Soon after Polanski's arrest, his lawyer, Douglas Dalton, according to the New York Times, said "he wanted to explore the 13-year-old's sexual history."
Dalton said, "We want to know who was involved, when; we want to know why those other people were not prosecuted."
You know, if other people were involved in sexually molesting this child, they should be prosecuted. But let's explore THEIR sexual history, not her's.
Exploring her "sexual history" smacks of the old "blame the victim" defense in rape cases. According to this reasoning, if a girl or woman ever said yes to ANY man, she can never say no again. She is fair game to any man who decides he wants her.
See anything wrong with that reasoning?
What Polanski did was not about sex. Rape never is. It's a crime, not of passion, but of power and control. When it's an adult raping a child, it is even more so a crime of power and control.
The passage of time and Polanski's career do not mitigate the horror of his crime. It's time he paid for it.