Roman Polanski hasn’t paid for his crime

Sometimes it’s easier to get your head around a distant controversy if you personalize it. So engage in a little thought experiment with me: You have a daughter or niece or sister who was raped by a wealthy, powerful and glamorous 43-year-old man when she was just 13.
He says the sex was “consensual,” but he had plied her with champagne and drugs before he took advantage of her. In any event, she was a child whom the law regards as too immature to “consent” to sexual intercourse. Would you want that man to be held to account for his crimes, although the episode occurred some three decades ago?
You’d want justice. Indeed, it shouldn’t matter whether the child was someone you knew. Criminals should be forced to pay for their crimes, especially those as ugly and predatory as this.
So the arrest last week of Roman Polanski, who fled the United States in 1978, after he pled guilty to having sex with a minor, may lead, finally, to a satisfactory resolution of the case. Polanski has escaped punishment for his crime, continuing his career to accolades while living, mostly, in France.
A celebrated film director who won the Best Director Oscar for “The Pianist” in 2003, he maintains legions of defenders, including French officials, the arbiters of fine art and the haut monde of urban enclaves here and abroad. Even the victim, Samantha Gailey Geimer, now 45, says she has forgiven him.
When “Pianist” generated Oscar buzz, Geimer wrote an essay in the Los Angeles Times, arguing that the assault shouldn’t be a consideration. “I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work . . .I don’t think it would be fair to take past events into consideration,” she wrote.
French authorities, who had refused to extradite him, seem to believe that Polanski’s flight was perfectly excusable because he was the victim of American prudishness. Well, perhaps the French have no problem with sex between young girls and middle-aged men, but I suspect there are lots of French parents who would object if their daughters ended up in the same circumstances.
This was no episode of mere touching, no case of simple nudity and fondling. Polanski persuaded the girl to take off her clothes in a ruse about a photo shoot for a fashion magazine. Then, he engaged in anal intercourse with her, among other acts. Shortly thereafter, she reported to authorities that she had told him to stop but that she had not forcefully resisted because she was afraid of him.
It’s important for Polanski to face the bar of justice, even thirty years late. His appearance would serve as an example to others among the wealthy and glamorous that they are not above the law. Neither money, fame, connections nor artistic achievement should excuse you from facing up to your crimes. Forcing Polanski into court, in a case which will receive lots of media attention, might also stiffen the resolve of other victims of sexual violence who are trying to find the courage to face their abusers.
It is remarkable, given the nature of Polanski’s crime, that prosecutors originally agreed to a plea bargain in which he would have served no more than 42 days in jail. Plenty of teenaged boys have received far harsher sentences for having consensual sex with girls just slightly younger than they. The director fled because he believed the judge would not honor the agreement; Polanski’s defenders have since alleged judicial misconduct.
Let Polanski make his case in a Los Angeles courtroom. Let him come back to the scene of the crime. No matter how long ago the assault, no matter his old age, he still hasn’t paid his dues. After decades in which American jurisprudence has come to treat sexual crimes against women and girls more seriously, let him argue that he shouldn’t have to spend any more time behind bars.

42 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Native

September 30th, 2009
7:38 am

Right on Cynthia!

norman ravitch

September 30th, 2009
7:46 am

Good for you, Cynthia!

Peadawg

September 30th, 2009
7:46 am

Wow, Cynthia and I agree on something!

old dog

September 30th, 2009
7:55 am

Right on !!!!!!!

TheOne

September 30th, 2009
7:57 am

I am stunned. I actually completely agree with Cynthia’s point of view today.

Joan Hensel

September 30th, 2009
8:08 am

Thank you for writing about this issue. I can’t understand why so many people are ready to make excuses for this crime. I’m glad Polanski’s victim has forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t subject to the laws that are designed to protect children from predatory adults.

Jack

September 30th, 2009
8:10 am

Yesterday it was Pakistan. Today, it’s Polanski. It must be nice to be an expert on everything.

Horrible Horace

September 30th, 2009
8:12 am

Unless there is a statute of limitations he should face the music.

jt

September 30th, 2009
8:17 am

If Polanski faces trial, the girl’s parents should too.

Someone delivered and left a 13 year-old girl with a renowned playboy. This someone is just as culpable of rape as Polanski.

EVIL REPUBLICANS TIME IS UP

September 30th, 2009
8:21 am

CHESTER CHESTER THE CHILD MOLESTER,HE’S GOING STRAIGHT TO JAIL,PASS GO!

Joey

September 30th, 2009
8:24 am

Cynthia, I agree. Thank you for this column.

oldtimer

September 30th, 2009
8:59 am

For a change, we totally agree!!

Davo

September 30th, 2009
9:03 am

“Then, he engaged in anal intercourse with her, among other acts.”

What a freak. Time for this pervert to face the music…who are these supporters of his?

funnything

September 30th, 2009
9:07 am

in other news, Hell has frozen over. I cannot believe I am saying this, but this was one of the best posts regarding this subject I have read.

Donovan

September 30th, 2009
9:07 am

Don’t be fooled, America. Tucker has been kidnapped by the Republicans and water boarded to say such things. It’s torture I tell you! This woman has buddied up to Hollywood for years and has marveled at the French for their “progressive” thinking about socialized medicine.

[...] I should note that my colleague Cynthia Tucker has also weighed in on the Polanski case, reaching a verdict similar to Woolner’s. [...]

Joan

September 30th, 2009
9:17 am

Nothing like the vindictiveness and down right meanness of the liberal left. I wonder if the sex truly was a rape, or was consensual. It was, after all, he said, she said. And the complainant has long sense withdrawn her complaint. If she can walk away from this, so can I. And, I figure too, a man whose wife and infant were hacked to pieces probably has indeed suffered enough in this lifetime, and maybe enough for dozens of lifetimes. Where is forgiveness in all of you?

[...] Roman Polanski hasn’t paid for his crime [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

Alvin

September 30th, 2009
9:38 am

Joan, you’re an idiot. It’s not he said she said since Roman admits to doing everything that the victim said he did. It’s just a matter of he didn’t want to spend time in prison so he fled. Thats it justice was never served. Id bet you’d sing a different tune if someone drugged and raped your thirteen year old daughter. Then i’d come to you and ask “Joan, why can’t you forgive?” Hypocrite

Larry Craig

September 30th, 2009
9:40 am

I think he has paid his debt to society by having to live outside of the USA for so long. R Kelly did not go to jail why should he?

Larry Craig

September 30th, 2009
9:45 am

Michael Vick and Pac man are not in jail. why should this filmaker be punished any more harshly than these thugs? what about genarlo wilson and the boy in rome who raped his classmate. The left fought tooth and nail to free those guys. I hope they do not do it again.

Michael Jackson he never went to jail..this is racism by the Obama admin. He told his boy Holder to pursue this man

[...] Some opinion: Cynthia Tucker says Roman Polanski hasn’t paid for his crime. [...]

Normal

September 30th, 2009
11:15 am

Does it matter to anyone that the victim, now in her 40s just wants it to drop so she can get on with her life. She even files a petition with the DA to have the charges dropped. It’s not Roman Palanski who is suffering here, geez people get a grip and let the woman have her life back.

Joan

September 30th, 2009
11:21 am

Alvin, you are wrong. If someone raped my daughter, I would simply shoot him and we could all be spared the cost of his prosecution and incarceration, but I wouldn’t do it 20 years later. And I wouldn’t keep a pot stirred up that the victim wanted the lid put on. And Normal, no, it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that the victim doesn’t want this spotlighted now. Let’s just keep torturing her.

Rant

September 30th, 2009
11:26 am

Let him serve his 42 days and allow some of his “cellmates” would conduct their own “trial” and “sentence”….

Obviously Joan at 9:17 has no children!!!

joe matarotz

September 30th, 2009
11:32 am

You do, girl! You got this one right! He needs to face the music.

Lynne

September 30th, 2009
11:37 am

Finally we’re hearing journalists discuss the fact that what Polanski did was wrong and he should be punished for committing a heinous crime. I was appalled yesterday upon hearing Whoopi Goldberg attempt to defend him and diffuse the issue by saying it really wasn’t rape. What other word comes to your mind when a grown man coerces a 13 year old into unwanted sex? If not rape, then what? If this were a priest or anyone else being charged, they would be prosecuted to the fullest and blasted by the media. I read the transcripts and the victim repeatedly asked and told him to stop. He is responsible for his actions and they shouldn’t be downplayed just because he directs films or suffered personal tragedies. Hollywood defenders need to take a long look at how they are defending this criminal because it waters down similar crimes that other young victims have to endure. If he gets off and doesn’t get punished, does that mean all others who rape children get off? I think not.

The Devil You Say

September 30th, 2009
11:40 am

Well Ms. Tucker, you finally got one right! Did they hide the keys to the liquor cabinet the day you wrote this one?

Chris Broe

September 30th, 2009
11:41 am

Point of order. That’s not a thought experiment. Cynthia’s open is merely a retelling of the events of the Pulanski extradition story.

A thought experiment usually involves gravity, acceleration, light, and a man who ended up marrying his cousin, (for which he never served one day in jail).

Thank you, and I trust that Cynthia Tucker will never attempt to go full-einstein on our prurient asses again.

Lynne

September 30th, 2009
11:49 am

In response to Larry – you’re right about Michael Vick not being in jail, but if you remember, he served his time in jail for his crimes, just like Polanski should do. 42 days in jail does not cover the punishment for rape of a minor. Michael Jackson didn’t flee the country but went to trial and was acquitted by a jury of his peers. You’re comparing apples to oranges. Living a posh life in France while owning multiple homes and working in the film industry does not sound like punishment to me. You said he served his time by living outside the US – poor guy.

joan

September 30th, 2009
12:17 pm

No, I am merely kind and forgiving. I guess I had forgotten people are just not that way anymore. I hope your hatefulness serves you well in your pathetic lives.

Rant

September 30th, 2009
1:02 pm

Sorry Joan — “kind and forgiving” is a warm and fuzzy which does not serve one well in the real world, especially where children are involved and those who see themselves above the law.

Your response should be the same now as it was 20 years ago!!!

Rant

September 30th, 2009
1:07 pm

Joan – I should have added that it is not “hatefulness”, but an objective assessement. That is why the jury death penalty decisions should be majority and not unanimous — “kind and forgiving” jurors always vote for life!!!!

funnything

September 30th, 2009
2:49 pm

Minors cannot consent under the law, so the argument of whether or not this was consensual goes out the window.

TnCyn

September 30th, 2009
2:55 pm

Joan… do you also think that someone that murders a person and then flees the country should not serve their sentence 20 or 30 years later??? This man is a pedophile and should not be above the law. Who cares what his job is??? He RAPED a 13 year old – a 9th grader!! Just because time has passed does not mean that justice has been served. Let him serve his time just like anyone else would be expected to. The person this happened to is not the only person that should be considered… it could have happened to many more, because pedophiles usually strike more than once. Think about it.

All the way

September 30th, 2009
7:12 pm

So Joan, your thought is that Roman should be let go?
You are ok with anal rape of a thirteen year old who was drugged on qualuudes and champagne by a wealthy powerful man?
Exactly what crimes would you think need to be punished?

Lynne

September 30th, 2009
7:36 pm

God help us if Joan ever serves on a jury where a true crime like this rape was committed. She would let everyone off. Unfortunately the ones who are let off continue to commit crimes like these and even worse. We’re not hateful, just realistic, and believe justice should be done. I have children and if someone did this to them, I wouldn’t rest until justice was done and the criminal served his time.

SouthernGal

October 1st, 2009
7:57 am

Joan….how bout you offer up your 13 year daughter/granddaughter for sex with an old man.

Rod

October 1st, 2009
8:03 am

Normal (9/30/09 – 11:15am) states that the victim wants this to go away and forget about it.

Of course she does. Polanski came to a financial settlement with her and her family years ago (FACT). Therefore, she can’t aid in the prosecution and she has to support having the charges dropped.

Hugh Heffner

October 1st, 2009
8:04 am

Joan, can I meet your daughter?

Joe

October 1st, 2009
10:13 am

Well, neither have any of these despotic presidents like Bush and Obama, among others.

David from WI

October 5th, 2009
5:30 am

I agree, Cynthia he needs to be held accountable for the drugging and raping of a 13 year old child. After that, he needs to be held accountable for fleeing and being a fugitive for 30+ years. He was found guilty and ADMITTED the crimes and he should be punished. It amazes me how so many Hollywood types would defend this man. It goes to show how morally bankrupt and out of touch they really are. I guess different rules for different social stations. Or does that mean if I commit a serious crime against a little girl and just keep myself out of trouble for 30 years and even flourish in my job I can just forget about it too? I wonder if that works with robbing a bank or other felony? Oooohhhh goodie just do ONE felony and stay clean and you get a free pass I guess. Disgusting.