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The Tragic Plight of Roman Polanski

It was Sunday the 27th of September, and famous fugitive movie director, Roman Polanski, was arrested on a 30-year-old charge of sexual molestation. This led to a great uproar amongst the motion picture arts community. Who could possibly still want to put Polanski in jail?

Faded-Starlet, Debra Winger, offered up a reaction that typified the mystification that sophisticated people felt over Roman Polanski’s detention.

We hope today this latest order will be dropped. It is based on a three-decade-old case that is all but dead but for minor technicalities,” said jury president Debra Winger. “We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork.” (HT: Big Hollywood)

The thirty year-old case involved repulsive behavior on the part of the suffering artist. When a forty-three year-old man takes a thirteen year-old girl to an isolated location to conduct a photo shoot, the chances are better than good that the forty-three year-old man has nefarious intentions. Such was the case when Roman Polanski absconded with thirteen year-old Stephanie Geimer and took her to Jack Nicholson’s palace in the hills above Mulholland Canyon.

Polanski photographed the girl topless, fed her champagne and a Quaalude, forced her into a hot tub and sodomized her. This sort of thing doesn’t ruffle feathers in the hills above Gomorrah on The Pacific. Polanski followed a time-honored tradition, offering Geimer her break into Hollywood with the same generosity Alferd Hitchcock was rumored to have shown Eva Marie Saint.

The whole sexual McCarthyism thing was just deplorable. The persistent attempts to arrest Polanski, not his predatory sexual behavior, made Hollywood blogger, Jeff Wells worry about Polanski’s repressed spiritual health.

Has Polanski suffered at all for his crime, apart from going to jail for 42 days in 1977? Of course he has. The crime has been haunting his head and heart for 32 years and it has defined the political and geographical limits of his life and career for same amount of time — more than half his adult life. He’s lived as a fugitive, a restricted man, a hider in the shadows — never a good thing for anyone in a spiritual sense.

But in the minds of the haters, Polanski hasn’t begun to suffer enough. They’re determined to lash him to the rack and keep him there. They want Pilgrim justice, flayings, black caps, thumbscrews, howls and clanging metal doors.

Wells has an occasional fact or two straight in his rambling Jeremiad against uptight moralists. The authorities arrested Polanski. Polanski used his money and connections to limit the consequences of his despicable barbarism to a forty-five day psychiatric evaluation. He was a temperamental artist, you see. They had to make sure that he was feeling okay when he fed Stephanie Geimer the narcotics.

The Superior Court judge in charge of this farce had a change of heart and decided that Polanski deserved the Mammertine Prison. He seemed about to dishonor the plea bargain. Perhaps the judge wanted to let the fragile artist find out what the denizens of Gen Pop thought of kiddie-rapers. So Polanski fled the country and enjoyed thirty years of life as a pampered, luxurious exile.

The LA Times remembers well what industry feeds and waters what remains of the Los Angeles high society. They predictably condemn the LA District Attorney’s Office with a tone of righteous indignation you’d expect to hear from the father of the rape victim. I warn my Constant Readers. Barf-inducing comparisons between the sybaritic Polanski and the repressed Jean Valjean follow below.

We live in an age that is so thoroughly post-modern that you can find an obvious literary antecedent for nearly every seamy media storyline. The same goes for the Polanski case, which is full of echoes of “Les Miserables,” the classic Victor Hugo novel about Jean Valjean, an ex-con trying to turn his life around who is being obsessively tracked and hunted down by the Parisian police inspector Javert.

Hugo’s story is a tragedy, as is the life story of Polanski, who was a fugitive as a boy and is now a fugitive as an old man. Whether the L.A. County district attorney office has its way or not, it is not a story that can have a happy ending. I think Polanski has already paid a horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions. The real tragedy is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.

To understand exactly why the DA doesn’t just get over his hang-ups and moveon.org, we close with a description of Stephanie Geimer’s testimony about what had happened to her at the Nicholson Estate. The Smoking Gunreminds us of what the famous and powerful of Hollywood would prefer we forget.

The teenager’s troubling–and contemporaneous–account of her abuse at Polanski’s hands begins with her posing twice for topless photos that the director said were for French Vogue. The girl then told prosecutors how Polanski directed her to, “Take off your underwear” and enter the Jacuzzi, where he photographed her naked. Soon, the director, who was then 43, joined her in the hot tub. He also wasn’t wearing any clothes and, according to Gailey’s testimony, wrapped his hands around the child’s waist.

The girl testified that she left the Jacuzzi and entered a bedroom in Nicholson’s home, where Polanski sat down beside her and kissed the teen, despite her demands that he “keep away.” According to Gailey, Polanski then performed a sex act on her and later “started to have intercourse with me.” At one point, according to Gailey’s testimony, Polanski asked the 13-year-old if she was “on the pill,” and “When did you last have your period?” Polanski then asked her, Gailey recalled, “Would you want me to go in through your back?” before he “put his penis in my butt.” Asked why she did not more forcefully resist Polanski, the teenager told Deputy D.A. Roger Gunson, “Because I was afraid of him.”

That leaves us the dilemma. Do we just forget about the whole thing and walk away? It has been a long, long time and water has flowed under the bridge. I personally would hope not.

The people who run Hollywood have weighed in against the proper process of justice. I guess we’ll look back on this after Polanski has gotten away with it all and ask why he didn’t ever see the inside of a penitentiary. Perhaps Stephanie Geimer has answered that one already. “Because I(we) was(were) afraid of him(them).”

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