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Should Roman Polanski Be Forgiven for Sex with a Minor?

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Roman PolanskiAs many people know, Roman Polanski is not allowed to return to the United States or travel to countries that have an extradition treaty with the U.S. (like Great Britain) due to his conviction of “engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” in the late 1970’s.

With a new movie called Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired looking to be a major contender at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I figured now would be a good time to gauge what people think of Polanski and what should happen to resolve everything. The movie, directed by Marina Zenovich, details the events revolving around Polanski’s conviction and flight to France, is sure to stir up controversy…

These are not all the facts, but this is what I pulled from Wikipedia:

  •  In 1977, Polanski got the permission of Samantha Geimer’s mother to conduct a private photo shoot of the 13-year old (or was she 14?) girl.
  • On March 10, despite her reservations, Geimer returned for a second photo shoot. “We did photos with me drinking champagne,” Geimer says. “Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there… I said no several times, and then, well, gave up on that.” This took place at Jack Nicholson’s home.
  • Polanski was initially charged with rape via use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, but put in a plea agreement for a lesser charge.
  • On a tip that the judge was going to throw out the plea agreement, Polanski fled to France, where he was still a citizen. France and the U.S. do have an extradition treaty, but France will not extradite its own citizens. The U.S. could put in a request for France to try him, but they have not do so and will probably never do so.
  • While Polanski admitted to unlawful conduct, psychiatric experts did not consider him a sexual predator and both the defense and prosecution believed probation would be sufficient punishment rather than jail. (Yahoo!)
  • In a 2003 interview, Geimer (now Samantha Gailey) said, “Straight up, what he did to me was wrong. But I wish he would return to America so the whole ordeal can be put to rest for both of us… I’m sure if he could go back, he wouldn’t do it again. He made a terrible mistake but he’s paid for it”.

So, here are some questions:

  • Is Roman Polanski likely to re-offend?
  • Has Polanski already “paid his due”?
  • Since Polanski has directed several great films and the crime committed was thirty years ago, does that factor in?
  • Do any of the previous questions matter? He had sex with a 13-year old.

What do you think? I’m torn myself. I must admit that I do have some compassion for people who committed crimes decades earlier. More than likely, those people have grown beyond whatever they did in the past, experience guilt and suffer as a result. And the fact that Polanski has won Oscars and contributed extensively to the arts does provide some bias. At the same time, Polanski had sex with a young girl. He knew how old she was, and he knew she was really, really young. And according to the initial charge and statements from Geimer, the sex was definitely not consensual or pleasant in any way or form.

By Erik Samdahl
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  • Hargrove

    Roman Polanski is a predator, and they are always likely to re-offend. How can you even ask the question, “has (he) paid his dues,” when he raped a child and has not suffered any punishment for it? Not only do I think he should face the music for that crime, he should also be charged with flight to avoid prosecution. His artistice abilities are irrelevant, and yes, the questions matter, as an intellectual exercise, but it doesn’t change the fact that Roman Polanski belongs in jail!

  • http://www.digitaljournal.com/user/272587/news Hargrove

    Since when does a victim advocate for their predator to escape punishment? Do you think Roman Polanski paid her?

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Maybe it’s a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

  • B.J

    Why didn’t her mother go to the photo shoot? Why didn’t she know her daughter was alone? Why wasn’t she aware of the fact that this was a “SEXY” photo shoot of her 13 year old daughter? Why did she allow the photo shoot to go on well into the evening without calling, checking or anything known to anybody after hours and hours?

    If this was my 13 year old daughter (which I don’t even have) you can bet your 2 eyeballs that none of this would have happened.

    There was tremendous neglect on the part of her mother and I’m positive that it was due to the fact that she was playing along hoping to help her daughter’s chances to have a shot to stardom… A mother who’s not aware her 14 year old daughter can already be sexually appealing is a MORON and a LIAR.

    Now.. as far as the daughter goes… she said “no””no”‘no” several times? and “didn’t want to make a scene…” (?) uhmm… if she really didn’t want for any of this to happen, why didn’t she just walk away? Didn’t she get any word of advise from her mother in this regard either?

    What Polanski did was absolutely wrong and of course illegal, and let’s make clear that rape is -without question- a most condemnable crime in his native France also. But let’s also acknowledge the fact that their sexual culture is WAY more liberal and WAY less morally repressed than in our heavily Christian coated/guilty ridden based society. This DOES NOT mean that sex with a minor is ok over there… but it does mean that if there wasn’t a firm, unquestionable stand on the girl’s part about not having sex, it shouldn’t be looked at as too shocking or unusual that Polanski might have interpreted it as a way of saying is ok, I’m fine with it, I consent to it, this is between us and I’m going along with it. Btw, a girl (let’s not forget a minor) who admitted consenting to sexual intercourse with a previous boyfriend. Why isn’t that guy in jail? Anyway, the fact is that no one will ever know what she really said or didn’t say to Polanski at that house. All we know is what the girl said after talking to her mother for several hours before even the police was called.

    This is not to justify Polanski’s terrible judgment and consequent actions. Sex with a minor is statutory rape under the law regardless of whether the minor agrees to it or not. BUT- if justice will be properly served, any proceeding and sentencing should take into consideration all, each and every factor involved. Primarily when it comes to exploring the question of how much the parties in question participated as enablers of the events that happened.

  • larry roeer

    Predators need to do time. Polanski is a coward for running from his responsibility.

  • geniusgirl

    This needs to stay out of the courts. They legal system is abusing both people. It was settled. She received money. It was consensual. I don’t believe her. She wanted to be a movie star.
    Go after Bin Laden. This is not about womens’ rights. Free Polanski!!! Feels so Nazi to me.

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