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The Trials And Tribulations Of Roman Polanski: Just What Is He?
Much Beloved As A Director, Not So As A Person
The Hollywood elite has, in general, much love for renowned film director Roman Polanski. His films have been shocking, polarizing, award-winning, and more, and actors and actresses the world over have sung his praises since films like Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown hit theaters decades ago.
However, he's also become one of Hollywood's best known scandals; in 1977, Polanski was charged with six felony counts over allegations he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. He pled guilty to one count of sexual misconduct and served 42 days before trial, which was apparently more time than The acclaimed director fled to Europe in 1978 on the evening he was to be formally sentenced amid his concerns the ruling could be overruled and he spend more time behind bars - possibly up to 50 years - than the 42 days he spent in jail. He's been living mostly in France, since he's a dual French-Polish citizen.
While the conduct demonstrated by the judge at the time was questionable at best, Polanski's conduct was terrible; why would a man who'd have been 43 at the time of the offence find a 13-year-old remotely appealing, and why would he fight the rape charge? He raped a kid. His belief that 42 days was somehow an appropriate jail term for what he did is ludicrous; while I understand and appreciate that a plea deal was reached in the matter, and that the judge changed his mind and was apparently bragging about it, 42 days is insulting.
Even more so is that Polanski ran. I know that his late wife Sharon Tate was pregnant when she was brutally murdered by the Manson family, and I would hope that Polanski would feel even the slightest remorse that the young woman he was involved with could have been his own daughter, had he had children at the time, but apparently not. Now, 40 years later, he wants the full matter dropped so that he can visit his late wife's grave and move freely without fear.
I get it. He's 83 years old and he's tired of running and tired of having this over his head. Hell, he may just be tired. Who wouldn't be? But the fact of the matter is, he pled guilty to "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a minor," and was ordered to undergo 90 days of psychiatric evaluation at California Institution for Men at Chino. He didn't go, at all, opting instead to flee.
Fear is a powerful motivator, and it only makes sense that Polanski would be so compelled to leave the country - fear that the judge who agreed to the plea would backtrack, fear that he'd be brutalized in prison, fear of the unknown - but he had raped a 13-year-old.
Now he says he wants to put his affairs to rest, before he dies. He wants to visit his late wife Sharon Tate's grave before he dies. BUT he doesn't seem to want to atone for his earlier crimes.
He can't have it all his own way. That's not what the legal system is about.
What Should The Legal System Do?
Consider The Victim
OK, so the victim in question is no longer 13, but does that make her any less of a victim?
She's gone through years of mental anguish, knowing that Polanski had escaped punishment behind bars, or at least any sort of meaningful prison term, for what he did to her. It doesn't matter what other people thought or believed of the relationship between the two; a 43-year-old (then) and a 13-year-old (then) only seem suited together if they are interacting as fathers and daughters should or uncles and daughters, and so forth.
Polanski may be an acclaimed director, and some four decades have elapsed since the initial trial, but there needs to be closure for this victim before Polanski dies. As a victim of sexual assault, she has no doubt had a lifetime where she's been trying to move past what happened when she was in the early stages of adolescence, and while nothing would have changed that, there's got to be some comfort in the knowledge that her perpetrator is taken to justice.
Except that didn't happen in this case, and that's unacceptable.
Has the victim moved on with her life? Absolutely, and Polanski has likewise moved on with his. However, the victim has always, in some corner of her soul, lived with the shame of being a victim of sexual assault, while the well-to-do director has effectively walked away.
Yes, I know it's been four decades since the Polanski case went to trial and was ultimately decided, but let's consider that there has never been closure for this case. He's always been able to effectively walk away, so how is that closure?