AP Photo/Michel Euler (File): Roman Polanski, who will not be extradited to the United …Roman Polanski's victim is reportedly satisfied with the Swiss government's decision to not extradite the famed film director to the United States to face charges for a 1977 crime no one disputes he committed. Tempting as it is to want to take her lead and say what's done is done, it's not easy to do.
At the age of 43, Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. He can call it sex (Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl, 13 at the time, after giving her champagne and drugs), and she can say she wants to put it behind her, but he has evaded being held accountable for any measure of his crime. Sex with a minor is a crime.
So, Polanski is a free man, unable to come to the United States, but a free man. A Swiss justice minister said the decision was made after the U.S. Justice Department failed to provide records of a hearing in which the Oscar-winning director claimed his case had been settled and the sentence agreed upon. The long-time director was at first charged with six felony counts, including rape and sodomy. Charges were reduced to unlawful intercourse after he made a plea deal, in part to spare his victim from a trial. After serving 42 days at secure psychiatric unit for an evaluation, Polanski fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing in 1978 because he feared the trial judge would go back on his plea deal.
He's a brilliant director who has made wonderful films ("Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Pianist," to name a few.) Actors from Tilda Swinton to Whoopi Goldberg (remember: "it's not rape-rape") to Woody Allen (isn't that rich?) have rallied to his defense, saying he's paid his debt, let him be. But what kind of message does this send young girls now? Here's one: Rape isn't a serious offense, especially if the rapist is a "brilliant," successful artist.
I could go on, but no one has said it better than one of my favorite, measured, spot-on movie reviewers, Stephen Whitty, in this earlier post.
"I have sympathy for Polanski, a man whose life was shattered by the Holocaust, whose mother died in the camps, who lived on the streets as a child, who fled Communist Poland, and who found a haven in Hollywood only to have his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, slaughtered by the Manson Family. How could you not? But sympathy is not an excuse." Whitty writes. Even more, he asks us to imagine if Polanski wasn't the Oscar-winning director of "The Pianist" who has given lots of wonderful actors jobs and given away money to charities. Imagine, say, he was a director of porn flcks, or bad sitcoms, or a reality TV show.
"Imagine Polanski wasn't a celebrity at all, but the gym teacher at a local middle school, or the head counselor at a bible camp. Would anyone say that sodomizing a 13-year-old wasn't "rape-rape"?
Yes, it was decades ago. But ask a therapist how quickly those traumas fade. Look at your own middle-school children, and think of them dropped off for a violin lesson, or arriving early for a baby-sitting job, and having an adult they trusted do the same thing to them."
That says it all. Along with the fact that a jury never got a chance to determine whether he committed a crime. Or, at the very least, that a judge was never able to sentence him to a plea deal. And that's not right, no matter who you are.Related on Shine:
Roman Polanski: Is it still a crime if the victim wants it to go away?
Should we boycott abusive leading men?