Why is there all this sentimentalism and taking of sides on the issue of whether film director Roman Polanski should serve his time? As of last evening, Debra Winger and other members of the film community were uniting to save Polanski like he was a harpooned mother dolphin in Japanese waters, and on the other side, victims of priest abuse were demonstrating to show that, no matter how much time has passed, Polanski belongs in hell with his fellow child predators.
Let's see if I have this right; Polanski, apparently with the ambitious acquiescence of the mother dreaming of stardom for her thirteen year-old daughter, gave champagne and some part of a Quaalude to the child and then had anal sex with her. Am I setting this little romance up properly? Oh yes, I believe there was a Jacuzzi involved. I want to make sure I capture the poetry of it all.
Then, at some later time, somebody told on them all to the police, and I am guessing this is when the first real adult began wondering about the injuries to the girl. I can imagine about forty injuries right off the bat -- everything from child endangerment to physical tearing to being pimped out by the woman who conceived her -- but I tend to run toward the dramatic.
So there was a trial, but some records show that John Van de Camp, who was the Los Angeles District Attorney at the time, was reluctant to put such a young girl through the hopeless humiliation of reliving a scene in which her body was violently invaded and her mother and the nice, powerful film director blasphemed her innocence forever.
Ok, so after all the lawyers got done, Polanski was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor under the age of fourteen. Yes, I realize that kids are considered minors until they are 18, and correct me if I'm wrong, but were considered minors until they were 21 in those days. Clearly, the fact that the statute delineated sex with a child younger than fourteen to be particularly heinous (to go all Law and Order: SVU on you) suggests that the legislators determined there could be no argument that the sex was in any way "consensual."
So what happened after that was that Polanski served a few weeks in jail before his final sentencing and then got out on bail pending the judge's determination of his punishment. Then he fled the country. In the meantime, some personal injury lawyers went after Polanski on the little girl's behalf (if I hear that the mother shared in the damages, I swear, I'll vomit in my own mouth!) and she ended up with a settlement.
It's at this point that great minds diverge. The folks who want to Save Roman start getting emotional here. "Hey," they say, "the guy paid her a lot of money and even she says she doesn't want to press charges in a criminal case now." Worse, I hear people talking like earthbound St. Peters, weighing whether Polanski has "suffered enough already" and therefore is forgiven and can enter the Pearly Gates. Yes, he was a victim of the Holocaust. Yes, his beautiful pregnant wife was killed by the Manson Family. God knows he's suffered.
Guess what, that's not evidence here! That's because waaaaayyy back at the beginning of the concepts of modern jurisprudence in the common law of England, it was decided that some crimes were so damaging to society that the State or Nation needed to prosecute them on Society's behalf. Are you with me here? What I'm saying is, it was the State of California who was prosecuting a man who drugged and had sex with a child on behalf of all of us who live in the state; the other vulnerable children who might be potential future victims of a person like Roman Polanski, as he was viewed at that time.
The fact that the victim doesn't want to press charges after thirty years is irrelevant. In a criminal case, she wasn't the plaintiff -- we the People were! And, there's no trial pending anyway because it happened some thirty years ago and he was convicted already.
He admitted he did the crime, now all that's left is to do the time. He probably should have done it 30 years ago, before America woke up and took a very strong position against child abuse. We don't condone middle-aged men having unlawful (and presumably unwilling on the child's part) sex with thirteen year-old boys or girls -- hell, we don't even spank anymore! Also, some people say that the definitive evidence that can be obtained with DNA testing now, that didn't exist before, would have supported even more serious charges against Polanski.
"What about the creative and productive life Polanski has lived for the past 30 years?" the sentimentalists ask. "What about The Pianist?" I say, "Good for Roman! What a lucky guy that he managed to achieve so much during that stolen time. I hope he can get back to his art just as soon as he gets his walking papers." In the meantime, he has a bill to pay here in Los Angeles.