It was here in Santa Monica that director Roman Polanski told the state of California what he thought of our criminal justice system. Despite the fact that he pled guilty to a felony, he decided it wasn’t worth living here if his address was going to be the state prison in Chino instead of the Chateau Marmont. So he ran away. He would’ve been a fugitive from American justice since 1978, but Swiss authorities picked him up over the weekend and are holding him for possible extradition. I hope he’ll return to our humble local courthouse to finish the process that was started 30 years ago and be sentenced to 20 years in prison for what he’s done.
Before we get to his crimes, let’s address the things his defenders always bring up. First, because of improper contact with a prosecutor, the judge in his case reneged on a secret deal to sentence Polanski to probation. Second, Polanksi survived the Holocaust and his wife and unborn child were brutally murdered by the Manson family. The Polanski camp brings up the first point as a reason to justify his fleeing the country and staying on the run for three decades and they bring up the second point as a way to encourage pity. That garbage doesn’t work with me because I don’t think the fact that he was an acclaimed director means he should have final cut privilege when it comes to his prison sentence, and because I’ve read the transcripts of the grand jury testimony, Polanski’s guilty plea, and his motion for dismissal — and I have no sympathy for the devil.
In 1977, Roman Polanski the film director was going to shoot photos for Vogue and was introduced to an aspiring young actress who was willing to pose for him. Polanski knew the girl was only 13, but when they went down the street from her Sherman Oaks home to take some pictures, he asked her to pose for topless photos because there was “no embarrassment” when she changed in front of him. He said topless photos of 13 year olds are “acceptable in Europe” and he didn’t realize they were “objectionable here.”
For their next photo shoot, he took her to a house on Mulholland Drive, but the light was supposedly no good (and the house was crowded). So he took her down the street to Jack Nicholson’s house where the light was the same, but the place was empty. He had her pose with full champagne glasses, which she then drank. He had the drunken teenager remove most of her clothing and get in the Jacuzzi. He gave her a piece of a 300mg Quaalude and told her to go lie down in a bedroom where he had his way with her. According to Polanski, “I told her to rest in the bedroom. I went to the bedroom. She never objected. … I withdrew before climax.”
Of course, that’s not how the survivor of this sexual assault remembers it. She says she told Polanski to stop, though she didn’t fight him because “there was no one else there” and she “had no place to go.” Also because he was her only way to get home and she was “dizzy” and “having trouble with my coordination, like walking and stuff.” In the room with that drunken, heavily sedated teenager was a 44-year-old predator who raped her and then dropped her back at her mother’s house like nothing happened.
He was arrested and charged with rape by use of drugs, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, perversion, sodomy, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor — and it was an open-and-shut case. But the girl’s family (with the help of a large settlement) wanted it to go away and Hollywood wanted Polanski back behind a camera; so the judge agreed to a secret plea deal (probation in exchange for pleading guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor) before changing his mind and informing Polanski’s lawyers that he would be sentenced to prison, then deported. Realizing he was going to spend the next decade being treated the way he treated his victim, but without the Jacuzzi, booze, and pills, Polanski fled.
As the home of America’s skin trade (modeling, stripping, and porn), L.A. is the front line of a war in which no little girl is safe. On one side there are the people who defend, protect, and enable sexual predators like Polanski, Officer Ian King from the LAUSD police department and Thomas Beltran from our own Lincoln Middle School. On the other side are those of us who have sisters, daughters and nieces we want to protect. There is no middle ground — you’re either on the side of innocent children or you’re on the side of the predators. So I don’t care how good his movies are, Hollywood needs to stop defending a man who used his status in the business to drug and rape an eighth grader, then used his wealth and French citizenship to avoid paying for his crimes.
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider with four-quadrant crossover appeal living in Santa Monica. His past columns are archived at www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.