Well, first thing on Monday morning, I went to my computer, as I always do, and saw the article that the Swiss government has rejected the U.S.’s extradition request because it was “uncomfortable with the charges, most likely because they are so old.” Hearing me shout, “I don’t believe this,” my husband walked by my office and said, “told ‘ya.” I immediately left for the gym to work off some hostility.
Returning after clocking in my best time for 10,000 meters on the indoor rower, I didn’t feel any less hostile.
Some readers may be too young or don’t remember that back in 1977, Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year old girl with champagne and part of a Quaalude during a modeling shoot and raping her. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation and sodomy, but, facing up to 50 years in prison, he pled guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse – statutory rape. His choice.
In exchange for Polanski’s plea, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and ordered a 90-day psychiatric evaluation to help him determine Polanski’s sentence. Polanski also faced deportation. He was released after 42 days when the evaluator deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again. The general expectation was that Polanski was going to get probation, but a recent documentary alleged that the district attorney showed the judge photos of Polanski partying in Munich with his arms around two young women who looked underage. It’s alleged that after seeing the photos, the judge suggested to Polanski’s lawyers that he intended to send their client to prison. Polanski fled the country on the eve of the sentencing hearing on February 1, 1978, and has not returned since.
Thirty-one years later, he was arrested in Switzerland on September 26, 2009, and extradition proceedings were commenced to return him to the U.S. to face sentencing for his conviction. On July 12, 2010, the Swiss rejected the U.S.’s request to extradite him and he is now a free man and will probably return to France, which does not extradite its own citizens.
As an attorney, I prosecuted and represented hundreds of children in the Los Angeles Dependency Court, one of the largest Children’s Courts in this nation. I continue to work in this area of law in California and Washington and, as a result, I’ve seen some of the most horrific things done to children which most people couldn’t imagine in their worst nightmares. I’ve seen, up close and personal, the immediate trauma and residual pain abuse causes. So excuse me if I have a visceral reaction to someone who is convicted of “unlawful sexual intercourse” and, because he had the wherewithal to do so, flees the country to avoid sentencing.
What really happened back in 1978? Was there prosecutorial misconduct? The Swiss government is now saying it was denied access to confidential testimony given earlier this year by the attorney in charge of the original prosecution. Was the judge bound by the decision of the psychiatric evaluation? Could the judge have given Polanski a longer sentence despite the evaluation? I don’t know.
What I do know is that, even with the alleged ethics violations, the newly-appointed judge, Peter Espinoza, presiding over the case which is still open in L.A., should’ve had the opportunity to decide these issues and whether the charges against Polanski should be dropped, not the Swiss government.
What’s got my head spinning even more are some of the comments I’ve read following today’s news. So many people don’t know or care that Polanski is a convicted child rapist.
One guy wrote and said, “he’s too old to even *** ** up, so who cares?” My first reaction to this guy was, “have you been living under a rock somewhere? Are you the only guy on the planet who hasn’t heard about Viagra?”
Another knucklehead wrote, “the victim’s done with this, she doesn’t want any part of it, so we should let it go.” Well, Mr. know-it-all, criminal charges are brought on behalf of the People of the State of California, not the victim. The District Attorney decides which cases should be prosecuted and which cases should be dismissed.
Some other genius wrote, “who cares, it happened 40 years ago.” Remember it was Polanski who chose to run! Why? Because of his innocence? I think not!
Does no one get the concept of “law and order?” So it’s ok for any convicted pedophile, who has the means to leave the country, to do so? With these attitudes, am I the only one that sees anarchy creeping around the corner?
I read that Woody Allen was defending Polanski. Polanski “was embarrassed by the whole thing,” “has suffered” and “has paid his dues” according to Allen – another guy who sets me off but that’s for another article. Nothing should surprise me.
And, of course, there’s Polanski’s paid mouthpiece, aka his lawyer, who said today, “it’s an enormous satisfaction and a great relief after the pain suffered by Roman Polanski and his family.”
I used to watch the Academy Awards just to see what outfit Cher would be wearing. I stopped watching when it became politicized. But, I won’t be surprised to see Polanski on stage getting a standing ovation at next year’s Awards show if the D.A.’s office drops this mess.
All I know is that I’ve crossed Switzerland off my list of European countries to visit (unless, of course, I commit a crime and take up yodeling in the Alps). Oh, and by the way, Osama bin Laden, if you’re reading this, I’ve got some advice for you. If you’re tired of slinking around in the caves of Afghanistan or Pakistan, or wherever the heck you are, head for beautiful Switzerland. They’ll never turn you over to us!
I think I ought to go back to the gym and row another 10,000 meters. In the meantime, I don’t get it and, if you do, God bless you.