Since Roman Polanski’s arrest in Zurich on Sunday, people have come out in force to defend a man who raped a 13-year-old girl.
We’ll say that again: people have come out to defend a man who raped a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski, who directed a famous version of “Romeo and Juliet” as well as “Rosemary’s Baby,” even pled guilty to the act in Los Angeles in 1977. Then he fled to Switzerland, where, like most fugitives, he lived a life of luxury as an acclaimed and rich director.
Not only was Polanski able to stay on the lam for 32 years, he kept directing and making money and enjoying acclaim as if he weren’t a convicted sex offender. If he had been a garbage truck driver who tried to flee the country after pleading guilty to drugging and raping a young girl, he’d have been whisked back to serve his sentence almost before the plane landed.
Authorities in France, where Polanski now holds citizenship, said they were shocked that Polanski had been arrested. In an article in the New York Times, the French foreign minister expressed the desire of the French authorities that “…the rights of Mr. Polanski be fully respected and that this affair rapidly find a favorable resolution.”
Yes, his right to remain silent will be respected. His right to be represented by an attorney in a court of law will be respected. His right to a trial by a jury of his peers will be respected. Other than that, he’s on his own. As far as any other rights go, it’s safe to say 32 years of prosperous freedom in France and Switzerland will probably suffice.
The girl Polankski raped, who is now a 40-year-old woman, has said she doesn’t wish any punishment for Mr. Polanski and that she’s over the ordeal.
That’s nice, but does it relieve Mr. Polanski of responsibility for the crime? No. He was convicted of a horrible crime by a plea deal he agreed to. That means he should have gone to jail. If he didn’t like the deal, he should have either stood trial in front of a jury, or, better yet, not raped anyone in the first place.
Just because Roman Polanski can afford a decent lawyer and a plane ticket to Europe doesn’t mean he should get away with rape. That our jails are clogged with poor people doing time for minor drug offenses while a Hollywood director gets away with rape shows an unacceptable double-standard in American justice.
The fact that the case is now more than 30 years old shouldn’t make a difference. The fact remains: Roman Polanski is a rapist who has been on the loose since the seventies, and it’s time he gets put away for good.