September 28, 2009
Roman Polanski and how to screw up a case
Polanski extradition = total mess.
It's like everyone involved in the entire history of this case has massively screwed up. There were lapses in the prosecution process by the judge. Polanski got nervous after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, then skipped the country before sentencing. The US inexplicably decided last week that Justice Must Be Served on a warrant that's been outstanding since 1978 and arrested him on his way to accepting a lifetime achievement award. It's a sloppy disaster.
If Polanski had just seen the plea bargain process through back in 1978, he would have spent his 20 days in jail or something like that and gotten through probation, and now he'd be able to make movies wherever he wants and serve as a guest judge on American Idol.
Instead, he's in jail in Switzerland at age 76, where he could be for 60 days while the US gets its formal extradition request together, then when/if he ends up back in court in LA, he'll have to deal with the fallout of running out on his sentence for a 31 year-old crime.
Meanwhile, members of the European film industry are making some half-intelligent, half-boneheaded statements that more or less claim that, because Polanski is a famous movie maker, the criminal justice system should just let this one go. It's nice that the victim has long since moved on and forgiven him, but he still pleaded guilty to sex with a 13 year-old, and in the words of Walter Sobchak, this is not 'Nam, there are rules.
I'm only partially kidding, here. Yeah, his movies are good (except Bitter Moon, man, that's a stinker) but suck it up and just serve your sentence, already. In response to the arrest, the French Cultural Minister said, "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face." Well said, but America is a lot like Polanski himself: there's the filmmaker who did Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown that I like, there is also a scary child rapist that's been hiding behind his celebrity for 30 years.
How about this for a solution: issue the warrant, fly him to LA, sentence him to time served (which was already done once), and everyone's done with it. Polanski can buy a place in Malibu and direct Charlie Kaufman's next screenplay and everyone can get on with their lives.
Maybe Polanski is lucky that he's went through his plea deal back in the 70's instead of today: AP has a piece on homeless sex offenders in Georgia who have been instructed to live in a makeshift camp out in the woods because there are no shelters or halfway houses that meet Georgia's strict living restrictions. These rules are supposedly made for public safety, and we end up with a bunch of sex offenders living together in the woods. Great.
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