It’s about rape, not le­gal wran­gling

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

You’d have to call it Ro­man Polan­ski’s luck­i­est day since 1978, when he man­aged to flee Los An­ge­les be­fore a judge sen­tenced him for hav­ing sex with a 13-year-old girl.

On Mon­day, Swiss au­thor­i­ties re­fused to ex­tra­dite the Os­car win­ner, who was ar­rested last year in Switzer­land and placed un­der house ar­rest while Los An­ge­les pros­e­cu­tors lob­bied to have him brought back for a fi­nal ver­dict on a crime com­mit­ted more than 30 years ago.

The Swiss govern­ment said there were “per­sist­ing doubts con­cern­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the facts of the case.” It said a con­fi­den­tial state­ment by the for­mer pros­e­cu­tor had not been turned over to it. Once again, Polan­ski is saved by le­gal non­sense.

Yes, Polan­ski did un­dergo a 42-day in-cus­tody ob­ser­va­tion in Cal­i­for­nia af­ter be­ing ini­tially charged with rap­ing a child model af­ter telling her to dis­robe in Jack Ni­chol­son’s house, where Polan­ski pho­tographed her and al­legedly plied her with al­co­hol and drugs.

And he was led to be­lieve he’d be free af­ter serv­ing the short stint for a guilty plea of un­law­ful sex, go­ing on the lam only when it ap­peared the judge might keep him be­hind bars.

But hav­ing read through the grand jury tes­ti­mony by the vic­tim, as I did last year, and given Polan­ski’s ac­knowl­edg­ment that he had sex with her, I don’t see it as any­thing but rape, and 42 days of ob­ser­va­tion was a joke. Ob­ser­va­tion for what? The district at­tor­ney’s of­fice was un­der the im­pres­sion at the time that the vic­tim would not tes­tify, thereby weak­en­ing its case, but pros­e­cu­tors were too quick to cut a deal that was a gift to Polan­ski. As for all of the Polan­ski apol­o­gists in L.A. and around the world, I’d like to re­mind them that, as I re­ported last year, the girl said on more than one oc­ca­sion in grand jury tes­ti­mony that she didn’t want to do what Polan­ski was ask­ing her to do.

She was scared and wanted to get away from him and go home, but he pushed and prod­ded, asked if she was on the pill, and had anal in­ter­course to avoid get­ting her preg­nant.

“This is a travesty,” said a state­ment Mon­day morn­ing from Bar­bara Blaine, pres­i­dent of the Sur­vivors Net­work of those Abused by Priests. “Our hearts go out to the tens of thou­sands of sex­ual as­sault vic­tims whose per­pe­tra­tors es­caped jus­tice by po­lit­i­cal clout, shrewd ma­neu­ver­ing or by run­ning out the clock on the statute of lim­i­ta­tions.”

Polan­ski, the state­ment went on, “got off scot-free de­spite his heinous sex of­fense against a girl.”

Not quite scot-free, but close enough.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.