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Cristian pointed out the Atkins just died, which I hadn't known--she was always the creepiest of the Manson gang, at least going on what Bugliosi reported about what she said about the stabbing of Sharon Tate, really one of the most graphically horrible things I've ever heard (I hadn't even thought till this minute about Polanski and Tate.) I think I read the book in 2000, and this might not be related to 'not in effect at the time of the original act', but that also reminds me of why some of the Manson murderers are still imprisoned, and/or were till their deaths, instead of executed, isn't it? Wasn't it because during the time of the murders and/or trial(s), the death penalty was not in effect? and then bringing it back later still didn't affect crimes, sentences, and judgments retroactively? I know, not exactly the same, but related, just like double jeopardy, etc.

Exactly. That's my point. I feel that Polanski is not exactly the perfect candidate to become the perfect believer in the perfect law within a perfect criminal system.

Let's see... "Susan just opened up my wife's belly, killing her and my unborn baby and she is STILL decided to be kept alive AND eligible for parole AND allowed to get married..and divorced...and remarried and...and..? Well, so I'm flying...au revoir !"

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I’ve been following the comments here with great interest, as the offence was committed in the US it is interesting to note the different response to the issue of rape. In the UK the crime of rape is under-reported and the rate of convictions alarmingly low, with cases of serial rapists being serially acquitted. However offences against minors are mainly (though this can depend on the judge) regarded as extremely grave and we have some very ‘high profile’ paedophile sex offenders in British jails such as the British pop singers Garry Glitter and Jonathan King, also that outstanding conductor of Baroque music, Robert King (I have a stack of his recordings) though the latter two committed offences against under aged boys. Making a special case for Polanski because of his artistic achievements simply doesn’t stand up I’m afraid as it seems to say that a man that makes films is exempt from justice whereas a man who lets say, digs holes in a road, presumably is not. I’m afraid I don’t see a grey area here.

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Making a special case for Polanski because of his artistic achievements simply doesn’t stand up I’m afraid as it seems to say that a man that makes films is exempt from justice whereas a man who lets say, digs holes in a road, presumably is not. I’m afraid I don’t see a grey area here.

No, I don't think so either. That's a poor argument to make to make a case that the current actions are unreasonable.

And I'll say again, to go along with your comment, that the guy who digs holes in the road wouldn't have to money to flee and hire a legal army.

I can well understand that Polanski has some truly terrible demons. He's gone through tragedies, really awful ones.

But he close to work and live in the US, those that live here HAVE to abide by the US legal system, as flawed as it often it. Without it, we would all be worse off as a society, more like a Third World dictatorship where justice is truly arbitrary.

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I’ve been following the comments here with great interest, as the offence was committed in the US it is interesting to note the different response to the issue of rape. In the UK the crime of rape is under-reported and the rate of convictions alarmingly low, with cases of serial rapists being serially acquitted. However offences against minors are mainly (though this can depend on the judge) regarded as extremely grave and we have some very ‘high profile’ paedophile sex offenders in British jails such as the British pop singers Garry Glitter and Jonathan King, also that outstanding conductor of Baroque music, Robert King (I have a stack of his recordings) though the latter two committed offences against under aged boys. Making a special case for Polanski because of his artistic achievements simply doesn’t stand up I’m afraid as it seems to say that a man that makes films is exempt from justice whereas a man who lets say, digs holes in a road, presumably is not. I’m afraid I don’t see a grey area here.

In the US most of the time sex crimes against minors are also taken very seriously these days, to the point that many offenders, even after their release from prison, can barely find a place to live or a job because of parole limitations and sex offender registries. Whether you think those are a good idea or not, it seems odd to me, and out of synch with US public opinion, for prominent Americans to claim that Polanski's suffered enough, or variations on that theme.

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I’ve been following the comments here with great interest, as the offence was committed in the US it is interesting to note the different response to the issue of rape. In the UK the crime of rape is under-reported and the rate of convictions alarmingly low, with cases of serial rapists being serially acquitted. However offences against minors are mainly (though this can depend on the judge) regarded as extremely grave and we have some very ‘high profile’ paedophile sex offenders in British jails such as the British pop singers Garry Glitter and Jonathan King, also that outstanding conductor of Baroque music, Robert King (I have a stack of his recordings) though the latter two committed offences against under aged boys. Making a special case for Polanski because of his artistic achievements simply doesn’t stand up I’m afraid as it seems to say that a man that makes films is exempt from justice whereas a man who lets say, digs holes in a road, presumably is not. I’m afraid I don’t see a grey area here.

In the US most of the time sex crimes against minors are also taken very seriously these days, to the point that many offenders, even after their release from prison, can barely find a place to live or a job because of parole limitations and sex offender registries. Whether you think those are a good idea or not, it seems odd to me, and out of synch with US public opinion, for prominent Americans to claim that Polanski's suffered enough, or variations on that theme.

I fully remember the horror felt when this was breaking news. It made Mr Polanski despised around the world except by those perverts who seem to be in some numbers in our societies.

Last night on UK television there was a programme on internet grooming made with the co-operation of the police. It was not an edifying experience. The girls involved were between 12 and 14. It was a sting operation and the men were all arrested and at least one was married and had children of his own. In England the number of sex offences upon children is rising annually. The number of registered child offenders in the UK appears to be less than 40,000 but a number have disappeared from current records.

There is in the UK a special schools programme for children to warn them of the dangers of talking to strangers on line which has so far reached 4.000,000 children including sadly 5-7 year olds. For me and no doubt others, it is sad to witness yet another loss of an aspect of childhood.

When one reads that in the USA, " Despite the passage of mandatory sentencing, electronic monitoring, and other measures like registration requirements, notification programs, and Amber Alert broadcasts, challenges to managing sex offenders remain. One in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The number of registered sex offenders in the United States is more than 600,000. Every 40 seconds a child is reported missing or abducted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. That translates to over 2,000 children per day, and over 800,000 per year."

richard53dog, says, "I can well understand that Polanski has some truly terrible demons. He's gone through tragedies, really awful ones. But he chlose to work and live in the US, those that live here HAVE to abide by the US legal system, as flawed as it often it. Without it, we would all be worse off as a society, more like a Third World dictatorship where justice is truly arbitrary."

His victim has tried to put behind her the experience as a child having sex with a 43 year old man. If he had been prosecuted when the rape took place, no doubt she would have had anonyimity.

She and her family may now have to relive the experience all over again in the full glare of the press.

Mr Polanski's is a fugitive from USA justice but yet to judged a criminal according to the law. His escape from justice may have been inspirational to paedophiles in the USA.

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In the US most of the time sex crimes against minors are also taken very seriously these days, to the point that many offenders, even after their release from prison, can barely find a place to live or a job because of parole limitations and sex offender registries. Whether you think those are a good idea or not, it seems odd to me, and out of synch with US public opinion, for prominent Americans to claim that Polanski's suffered enough, or variations on that theme.

The draconian nature of some of the new laws is certainly disturbing.

There does seem to be a certain tone-deafness in some of the reactions coming from the ranks of the politically and artistically prominent, and not only Americans. Not only do many seem unfamiliar with or indifferent to the details of the case, but they give a strong impression of coming forward to the aid of a fellow member of an exclusive club whose manners and mores cannot be comprehended by the great unwashed.

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My overall take on the situation involves some frustration with the spectacle of a prosecutor's office taking such a lazy attitude toward the pursuit of a fugitive. True, Polanski isn't Jean Valjean, and the DA's office is not Inspector Javert, but some aspects of that conflict enter this story. The DA's office has published a timeline with the express purpose of demonstrating the diligence with which they have pursued Polanski. To me, it looks more like they phoned their chase in, and never bothered to do more than to demonstrate that they still knew about the outstanding charges. Such torpor! In order for justice to be justly served, speedy trial is guaranteed to defendants in order that their rights may be efficiently and effectively protected. In order that speedy trial may be effected, speedy investigation, pursuit and capture of a suspect is demanded of the people, that their right to complain and their evidence may be preserved. Justice is not well-served when a case is spread out into four decades.

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There does seem to be a certain tone-deafness in some of the reactions coming from the ranks of the politically and artistically prominent, and not only Americans. Not only do many seem unfamiliar with or indifferent to the details of the case, but they give a strong impression of coming forward to the aid of a fellow member of an exclusive club whose manners and mores cannot be comprehended by the great unwashed.

Reminds one, of course, of Sartre's getting Jean Genet out of prison, although it is true he did a fair amount of time in serious gruesome French prisons. I don't have time to look up the details of the other case that comes up, but even though it was a 'member of the great unwashed' that Mailer got out of prison, and who then proceeded to immediate violent crimes, the opinions of most 'outside elitist clubs' would be the same. I've read that Genet's release was nearly inconceivable outside France, I'm not sure if that's the most famous case of this sort. Yeah, I read a lot of things this morning about people 'in a kind of club', but I do agree with Mel's suspicions about such appalling slowness and the great possibility that there were inducements. I'm going to suspect all I please, since I have not yet resorted to specific accusations of law enforcmeent personnel. But I can't see how it was high priority now for any other reason, if it wasn't before.

Most laws should be obeyed whether you like them or not, as mentioned by someone above. But there are some, like sodomy laws, that nobody ever paid any attention to, and in the privacy of their homes, neither should they have, because what consending of-age adults do in the privacy of their homes is not the government's business (and they referred to certain acts performed by any partners, straight as well as gay/Lesbian) That's just one example, of course, but even though people ignored them, they were arrrested for these laws sometimes. Saying they should would mean that any laws anywhere, no matter how despotic, as in the former USSR, ought to be obeyed just because they're on the books.

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Justice is not well-served when a case is spread out into four decades.

Yes, but the LA District Attorney's office is overwhelmed I'm sure with more important current cases, gang violence etc. They have rather limited resources.

What Polanski, artist or man, appears to have done appears is very wrong (there is an investigative report at the Daily Beast) -- not the fleeing part, but taking away something of a young person's regard of herself. There really are no subtleties there, it's unforgivable, more so maybe because the violence is neat and not on the outside but becomes carried away in the weaker person.

Polanski still should serve a sentence, maybe a year or two in a cell, it could be in Switzerland. But at this point trial in the states, the circus of news coverage, and the limited sentencing options would be a bit like reenacting the original transgression with the world as vicarious participants.

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Doesn't the timing of this create some interesting questions. I have a hard time believing that this was the first real opportunity for authorities to apprehend Roman P. in Switzerland. The man has a home there! In recent months, the US government has been putting pressure on Swiss banking giant UBS to release data to the IRS so that the US government can prosecute tax evasion claims against various individuals and corporations which have hidden money in Swiss bank accounts. The Swiss government and UBS have fought hard to protect this information from release. Could the Swiss government be thinking that if it cooperates on arresting Polanski, maybe the US government will be more willing to deal favorably on the release of the banking info?

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"and the DA's Justice is not well-served when a case is spread out into four decades."

Justice is not well served when people known by self admission to have committed a criminal act evade justice by moving to countries which have dubious moral standards, as has been witnessed in the past. There are many countries in the world including the USA who are pursuing other elderly men and women to bring them to trial.

I think all the Hollywood types who have supported Mr Polanski have done little to dispel the popular if incorrect image that many people in the US film business and show business, act in a

manner that would once have been called degenerate.

In the UK feeling are running quite high. In The Daily Telegraph a reader has written,

"Yes, the girl was forced, but even if she weren’t,

1. She was 13 years old, and

2. He fed her drugs and alcohol.

She had no capacity to consent. He was 44. He has admitted to all of this, both at the time and in subsequent interviews. The original charge of rape was reduced to sex with a minor as part of a plea bargain. The judge threw out the plea bargain because he was outraged that rape of 13 year old would only get you 42 days in jail. Polanski then fled."

Another writes, " We know what he did to provoke the US justice system’s wrath. That is unless you condone plying a 13 year old girl with drugs and alcohol, then sodomizing her against her will?

The more liberal newspaper "The Guardian." also carries readers explicit comments in a similar vein.

ReL Abbatt's post, I understand there have been attempts in at least four other countries to arrest Mr Polanski including England.

This is not a question of Mr. Polanski's cultural status or his age it is his vile wrongdoing to which he admitted guilt.

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There are many countries in the world including the USA who are pursuing other elderly men and women to bring them to trial.

But we should keep a sense of proportion here. Some of those extraditions involved heads of state and their lieutenants who committed profound crimes -- not just a significant transgression, as is in Polanski's case -- such making a wiping out a whole generation of students, creating a whole class of "disappeareds," as what happened in Chile in the 70's.

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abatt, thanks for posting. There are articles and posts earlier in this thread that have explored the question. It seems to have been a variety of changing laws and facts on the ground that created a sort of perfect storm situation.

Quiggin, it's rare for me to disagree with you on anything, but I have to say I don't have any problem with bringing Polanski back to face the punishment he skipped the country to avoid. If they can deal with it in Switzerland, fine. If not, that's okay, too, although I have no more stomach for the spectacle than you do. Is he Pinochet or Eichmann? No, of course not. But Polanski's crime is considered serious enough as a legal matter for statutes of limitations to be waived, and as E Johnson pointed out usefully earlier in the thread, it's not the first time someone has been nicked after a long period on the lam, although people as rich and influential as Polanski generally manage to get the business dealt with before it reaches the proportions attained by this case. If there's a circus, I fear Polanski has only himself and his lawyers to blame. (I don't think he will ever wind up back here in the States, however.)

Polanski hires a friend of the Attorney General. I'll bet Holder is thrilled.

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There are many countries in the world including the USA who are pursuing other elderly men and women to bring them to trial.

But we should keep a sense of proportion here. Some of those extraditions involved heads of state and their lieutenants who committed profound crimes -- not just a significant transgression, as is in Polanski's case -- such making a wiping out a whole generation of students, creating a whole class of "disappeareds," as what happened in Chile in the 70's.

You forget to mention that governments are pursuing abroad, evading, murderers, torturers and sex offenders etc. Do you not think all of them should be brought to trial?

You mention, "That we should keep a sense of proportion. What sense of proportion is to be taken here? You must know what took place and you call it, "... just a significant transgression".

I simply do not see how such an act can be forgiven in such a manner.

What point on the heinous scale of an admitted crime do we measure the level of criminal action being taken. As you know heinous means abominable or shockingly evil.

This is a question of morality and it needs to confirmed by the society wherein the crime took place.

What Mr Polanski admitted to imposing upon a child is to my mind worthy of prosecution and if found guilty a long prison sentence should be served as would happen to any other person who commited such a heinous crime.

If the extradition papers were not already prepared long ago and now on there way, I would if I was an American want to know why?

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I simply do not see how such an act can be forgiven in such a manner.

Leonid & dirac,

I didn't say it should be forgiven, I said in my posts above it was a heartless, unforgivable act that the weaker person carries with him or her the rest of their lives, that the subtleties of rape being discussed were a bit too much, that Polanski should be punished, he should serve real time in a prison cell -- (no mobile phones, no deal making from prison) and he should live to get out and live a chastised afterlife.

But this shouldn't be compared to Pinochet who had thousands of students dropped from airplanes into an estuary and caused lifetime heartbreaks for their families (and Kissinger said he wasn't doing enough!).

*

Jack Abbott I believe was the American writer who was released from prison on the recommendation of Norman Mailer and others. A friend of mine came across the body of the man he had just killed early one morning on east 5th or 6th, lying surreally outside a cafe ...

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Polanski IS guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor by virtue of a plea of guilty thirty-one years ago. What he has further to answer is unlawful flight to avoid due process. That would have been open-and-shut had it not been for the infuriating nonfeasance of the LA County DA's office. That's what drives me up a wall! It has been so long delayed that now Polanski may now have a valid defense in that his apprehension was so long after the deed. Even medieval serfs had a statute of limitations if they escaped from their service. That is, in part, where the modern concept comes from. Our hypothetical hole-digger might well have been long gone and forgotten by this time, and no one would much care were he apprehended now.

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I simply do not see how such an act can be forgiven in such a manner.

Leonid & dirac,

I didn't say it should be forgiven, I said in my posts above it was a heartless, unforgivable act that the weaker person carries with him or her the rest of their lives, that the subtleties of rape being discussed were a bit too much, that Polanski should be punished, he should serve real time in a prison cell -- (no mobile phones, no deal making from prison) and he should live to get out and live a chastised afterlife.

But this shouldn't be compared to Pinochet who had thousands of students dropped from airplanes into an estuary and caused lifetime heartbreaks for their families (and Kissinger said he wasn't doing enough!).

Jack Abbott I believe was the American writer who was released from prison on the recommendation of Norman Mailer and others. A friend of mine came across the body of the man he had just killed early one morning on east 5th or 6th, lying surreally outside a cafe ...

Quiggin, I was about to amend my last post addressing leonid to point out that you had not asked for 'forgiveness' and would have done so had you not beaten me to it. :)

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I should note my earlier mention of statutes of limitations was not truly relevant here, as this was not an uncharged crime. As far as I know there is no statute of limitations on the issue of Polanski’s conviction and flight – he’s a fugitive avoiding extradition, he can be picked up for that and the extradition request is perfectly valid and reasonable, legally speaking.

Our hypothetical hole-digger might well have been long gone and forgotten by this time, and no one would much care were he apprehended now.

Cuts both ways. The hole digger wouldn’t have had the connections and wherewithal to skip to France and wouldn’t have had the deep pockets to keep high powered lawyers on the payroll. It is possible he would have gotten a plea agreement, given the high bar that rape victims were forced to jump back in those days, but he wouldn’t have had the level of legal representation available to Polanski to help him obtain it.

From what I understand, however, the U.S. is notoriously uncooperative when extradition requests are on the other foot......

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Yes, it is, and further, the original conviction and the flight are two separate issues. Even though they do have a point of contact, flight is another whole matter. Usually, when we see those FBI posters seeking persons for interstate flight, that charge is not pursued once the suspect has been apprehended and returned to his/her jurisdiction for trial on the original charge. Some states may be different, Louisiana, for one, but NY and CA are very similar.

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A screenwriter collaborating with Polanski has an op-ed piece in the Times today that is very compassionate towards Polanski, but the piece does make clear the writer's belief that the actions of Polanski's own legal team in the wake of a sympathetic 2008 documentary led to his current predicament. Specifically the writer refers to "subsequent [to the documentary] vigorous legal attempts to have the case against him closed..." In that context, the decision to arrest Polanski now seems less puzzling to me than it does to others.

I am not a master of links but:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/opinion/...tml?ref=opinion

At any rate, you can find it in today's Times...The official Times editorial, in the same issue, takes a rather different view of the matter.

(Mel -- With such a dim view of opinions you must find it rather stressful to moderate an internet discussion board...'Jaw, jaw' indeed or, at any rate 'type, type'--though as I infer, perhaps it's the non-aesthetic legal context that makes the opinion-opining troubling to you (?)...When Spiro Agnew was on trial, I asked my father if he thought Spiro Agnew had taken bribes--his response was that he wasn't on the jury and hadn't heard the evidence. This is a different kind of case--since Polanski was convicted--but surely no work of art.)

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Thank you for posting, Drew. The writer of the NY Times piece is the novelist Robert Harris, who does not cover himself with glory in this article, I regret to say. (I've enjoyed several of his books.)

The documentary film is "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which could be described as the official Case for Polanski, worth seeing for a variety of reasons, not all of them complimentary to the film, however.

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(Mel -- With such a dim view of opinions you must find it rather stressful to moderate an internet discussion board...'Jaw, jaw' indeed or, at any rate 'type, type'--though as I infer, perhaps it's the non-aesthetic legal context that makes the opinion-opining troubling to you (?)...When Spiro Agnew was on trial, I asked my father if he thought Spiro Agnew had taken bribes--his response was that he wasn't on the jury and hadn't heard the evidence. This is a different kind of case--since Polanski was convicted--but surely no work of art.)

Good for you, Drew! I assume this means we may express our opinions on the other mods, non? :) Of course, I don't have any opinions on them myself, but there may be those who do.

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