I’m sure Roman Polanski is sorry for what he did 30 years ago. I know the victim is over it and wishes the whole thing would just disappear. I understand that Polanski is a great director, highly respected by his peers both in America and in Europe.
However, none of that absolves him from guilt. None of that erases the fact that he fled the country and hasn’t returned, fearing arrest. No one, regardless of how rich, esteemed, privileged, or repentant, deserves absolution simply because of the length of time since a crime is committed.
I simply don’t understand the reaction of French authorities and Hollywood to his arrest. “It seems inadmissible…that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him,” said a petition. I believe someone called it “a sinister plot,” the way they knew where he was going to be and waited for him. Well, it’s no different than knowing a killer is going to be at a local bar and waiting for him to show up to arrest him. “Why now? He’s traveled to Switzerland dozens of times.” Exactly, why now? Why not the second, third, fourth time he went?
People are upset that he was arrested, “astonished”. French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand said that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.” Polanski has had a hard life, after all – his mother died in Auschwitz, and his wife was killed by the Manson Family. Of course, most serial killers have had an abusive family life, but we don’t think it’s okay if they drug and rape a thirteen year old, and then flee the country to avoid prison. Oh, and my favorite: he hasn’t been able to make films in Hollywood. Well, THAT’S HIS OWN DAMN FAULT! If he hadn’t run, the justice system would have run its course and he would have spent the last 2-3 decades making movies in Hollywood, or Idaho, or New York, or Wisconsin. The fact that he’s been a world-class director from outside the country does not absolve him of evading sentencing.
I understand, from what I’ve read, that Polanski feared the original judge in the case would renege on his plea deal. Okay, fine, I can understand that. I’m not doubting that the trial may have been unfair. But, if Polanski had come back at any point in time over the last 20 years and turned himself in, I have no doubt that the evading charges would have been dismissed, and the sex crime sentence would have become “time served.” Especially this past January, when the victim filed papers to have the charges against Polanski dismissed. If he had simply come back to the US, he probably would have been let off with probation for the fugitive warrant against him.
If this had been my neighbor Joe Schmoe from around the block, you can bet your ass that he would have been arrested 29 years ago and extradited immediately. But this man had money, and clout, and fame, and (as we all know too well) people can forgive a lot when you have those things, or at least turn a blind eye.
The French Foreign Minister is appealing to Hilary Clinton to have Polanski released. I’m curious to hear her response.