Roman Polanski: Is it still a crime if the victim wants it to go away?

APAPUntil a few days ago, I'd not really given the Roman Polanski story much thought-he was basically a punchline to jokes about men interested in much-younger women. So I went looking for the facts of the case, and wow. Let's be clear about what this guy is accused of doing, so there's no confusion.

In 1977, then 43-year-old film director Roman Polanski was arrested for raping a 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and Quaaludes. He did all this after luring her to the home where the rape took place on the pretense that he was going to photograph her for French Vogue. He proceeded with the sex act, even after she asked him to "keep away." And when the police asked her why she didn't fight harder to resist him, she said, "Because I was afraid of him." You can read the entirety of her painful testimony here on The Smoking Gun.

Polanski eventually agreed to a plea deal that charged him with having sex with a minor, but, when it looked like a Superior Court judge might not honor the deal, he chose to flee the country. For much of his time on the lam, he's held French citizenship, since France won't extradite its citizens to the U.S.

So, now 30 years have passed. Work-wise, Polanksi has continued his legendary career by making a slew of impressive movies, including the Academy Award-winning "The Pianist." He's carefully evaded arrest by choosing to travel to places he knew he wouldn't be arrested. And then Saturday, the 76 year old arrived in Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, and the Swiss police were there to apprehend him.

Upon first glance, I say, "Finally! Justice can be served." I could care less about his supporters who call for the case to be dismissed based on the fact that he's a cultural icon. I'm not convinced he's paid for his crime in years of pain. And the case is certainly not too old or even "dead," as Debra Winger put it, to prosecute. Nor do I feel he was justified in fleeing because he believed that the judge would renege on the deal.

And I am flat out disgusted by Whoopi Goldberg saying on "The View" that "It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape." Um, excuse me? Can I get a definition of "rape-rape" vs. what Polanski did? I mean, have we all lost our minds?

But here's something that does give me pause: The victim, Samantha Geimer (pictured below from 1977 and 2008), doesn't want the case to move forward. Earlier this year, Geimer filed a formal request that Los Angeles prosecutors drop the charges against him-not because he didn't commit the crimes, but because she simply doesn't want to revisit the details of what happened and the media attention it brings. She told People in 1997, "He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life."


Ouch. It's horrible to think that this man's actions have ruined this woman's life twice over-first as a sexual assault and second as a media assault during the trial and since he's fled.

So that leads me to the big question: Who really owns the crime here? Legally, it may not be the end, but should it be?

As much as I hurt for Geimer, I can't help but think about the message this case sends. If you're famous, artistically talented and rich enough, people are willing to overlook horrific crimes and even campaign for your freedom. Also, all you seemingly have to do is wait out your victim's resolve, and eventually it may not matter to her anymore, or at least that closure will matter more. Can you help but wonder how different Geimer would feel had he been extradited and stood for sentencing decades ago?

My feelings are firmly to hold people accountable for their crimes, especially one this horrible. And I don't think the decision to throw the book at this scumbag (however talented he is) should now have to fall to the victim. She gave her testimony 31 years ago! She really shouldn't have to relive it again. And there would obviously be less discussion on this if were talking about a brutal murder instead of a rape and the victim of his crime couldn't actually be intimidated into wanting the case to end.

What do you think, Shine ladies? Should this case be lessened or thrown out based on the victim's pleas? And what do you think of the circus of Polanski defenders, especially the women who-like Whoopi-think we should let this go?