Fact. In 1977 Roman Polanski drugged and then had sex with Samantha Geimer, a thirteen-year-old girl he was photographing in Los Angeles for Vogue magazine. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to one of a six charges against him, (charges which included giving a drug to a minor, committing a lewd act upon a person less than 14, rape of a minor, rape by use of a drug, oral copulation and sodomy). For his guilty plea he was sentenced to 90 days of psychiatric testing by Judge Laurence Rittenband. Fearing the sentence he had given was too light, Rittenband was ready to renege on the deal when Polanski, on bail, fled to Europe. He has trode carefully, avoiding capture for the last 32 years. That was until last week when Polanski was arrested by Swiss authorities. He now faces extradition back to the USA where if found guilty he will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.
No one can deny that Polanski committed the crime in question, and he shouldn’t be above the law. That he is a world-renowned film director, as well as a man who has suffered great personal tragedies makes no difference. Nothing gives anybody the right to drug and sexually violate a young girl. For me, the real travesty was the initial plea-bargain sentence, one that was utterly absurd considering the gravity of the charge. Sadly it seems Samantha Geimer received the real sentence in 1977, forced to live for all these years without any real form of closure. Remarkably, Geimer doesn’t think Polanski should be punished now, citing the impact it might have on his own family. One must empathise with Geimer who most likely just wants the whole thing to go away. But the decision of what to do with Polanski is not Geimer’s, in fact authorities haven’t figured out whose it is yet. Regardless of what happens with this case lets at least hope there is some definitive outcome.