The Idiot’s Guide To Roman Polanski Case
Opinion/Editorial By The Colonel
I remember a scene from Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 in which Moore interviews a couple of people in a small town about the possibility of a terrorist attack on their town. A middle age frightened woman tells him: ‘We have a Wal-Mart store here, if they’re going to attack us, probably Wal-Mart would be their target.’
This is a laughable, yet upsetting example of American mentality in the 21st century. It’s quite easy to excite, scare and infuriate Americans: throw around a bunch of words like terror, rape and Socialism and watch how they go crazy and tear themselves apart without even bothering to make an attempt to investigate, observe and exam the facts before coming to radical conclusions. Americans: extremely sensitive, highly opinionated and poorly educated. No wonder we’re losing our grasp on today’s world realities and have become a global foul joke.
When the Polish director Roman Polanski was arrested in Swiss over a decades long case on September 26, everybody had an opinion, those who were familiar with this ludicrous case supported Polanski, while the others who barely knew who Roman Polanski is, let alone being familiar with the circumstances and particulars of the case against him, demanded Polanski’s head on a platter and called his supporters every name in the book. Hollywood is rallying behind the genius director. Top filmmakers including Harvey Weinstein, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Ethan and Joel Coen and Pedro Almodóvar among many others are signing a pro-Polanski petition. Whoopi Goldberg says: ‘The director didn’t commit rape’; and Debra Winger complains: ‘The whole art world suffers in such arrests.’ In Paris, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was shocked by Polanski’s arrest, adding that he strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them. Those comments referred to the fact that Polanski escaped Krakow’s Jewish ghetto as a child during World War II and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp. Mitterrand’s office said that he was in contact with French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is following the case with great attention and shares the minister’s hope that the situation will be resolved. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner spoke to his Swiss counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, to urge that Polanski’s rights be fully respected and that the case would result in a favorable outcome.
In the United States, the objection against Polanski mainly comes from the feminist groups, radical right wingers and religious nut jobs whose ideas and misinterpretations of this specific case are as biased, prejudiced and shallow as their knowledge and opinions about almost every other issue.
When I addressed this case in my previous article ‘Heavy Shades of Grey’ on LukeIsBack.com, it became clear that unfortunately some people have little or no knowledge about this case, they’re not familiar with it at all, and yet it doesn’t stop them from expressing baseless opinions. So I decided to prepare this idiot’s guide to Roman Polanski case. I have listed a handful of sources I used to conduct this guide. If you feel so strongly, make yourself familiar with this case and examine and study the sources before making comments. In the end, everybody is entitled to their opinions and any conclusion they draw.
1. The Storm: It started when in March 1977, Mrs. Gailey introduced her then 13 year old daughter Samantha to 44 year old Roman Polanski, one of the most influential and powerful directors in Hollywood. Mrs. Gailey asked Polanski to help her daughter to pursue a career in acting and modeling. Polanski agreed to photograph the girl for the French edition of Vogue Magazine. Gailey’s mother arranged two private photo shoots for her daughter with Polanski. The second session took place on March 10, 1977 at the home of Jack Nicholson in the Mulholland area of Los Angeles. At the time, Nicholson was not home, but Polanski was accompanied by his actress friend Angelica Huston who was downstairs while Polanski was taking photos from Samantha on the 2nd floor. Here is where the story takes an unexpected turn, and there are different versions of what truly happened between Roman Polanski and Samantha Gailey. According to Samantha’s first official testimony, Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and quaaludes, a sedative drug, and performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her; while according to Polanski, at the time he had no knowledge of Samantha’s age, during the photo shoot she took her clothes off in front of him, got in the Jacuzzi and invited him to join her to party with her. Later in an interview with Diane Sawyer, Polanski said: ‘I didn’t know how old Samantha was at the time and I had no intention to have sex with her, there was no planning, no premeditation of any kind. It was all spontaneous and she was willing. We partied, drank champagne, did drugs and eventually had sex; but I didn’t force anything on her, and it was clear she had drunk and used drugs before. She was no stranger to those things.’ Angelica Huston who was there at the time said: ‘The teenager didn’t appear to be distressed, she seemed sullen which I thought was a little rude.’ Asked about the girl’s age, Huston replied: ‘She appeared to be one of those kinds of little chicks between, could be between any ages up to 25. She did not look like a 13 year old little scared thing.’ Huston also added: ‘I highly doubt that Polanski would forcibly rape and sodomize an unwilling girl.’ Especially if you consider the circumstances, being in someone else’s house, it’s very unlikely that Polanski would have gone out of his way to rape a teenage girl while his friend Angelica Huston was downstairs. If Polanski had such intentions, he could have taken the girl to his own house. So in that sense, I tend to believe Polanski’s version of events.
After that night, Gailey’s mother contacted Polanski and threatened him by taking lawful action against him, unless he settles the matters with her and her family in private. Polanski didn’t comply with her demands, and therefore she reported the incident to Los Angeles Police Department and Polanski was arrested on sex charges on March 13, 1977. On her first official testimony, Samantha described the graphic details of the incident for the police. That testimony was kept confidential and was not released to public until recently. One noticeable thing about that testimony is that Samantha’s mother prepared that testimony for her when she was 13 years old. 11 Years later, when 24 year old Samantha Gailey filed her civil law suit in 1988 (more on that law suit later), she did not repeat that testimony and did not refer to the incident as rape. It clearly shows the part Gailey’s mother played in this scandal and how she used her daughter to bait and blackmail a Hollywood celebrity. However, she could not predict things would go this far and get this complicated.
2. The Aftermath: Polanski was initially charged with with six counts: Furnishing Quaaludes to a Minor, Child Molesting, Rape by the use of Drugs, Sodomy, Oral Copulation and Unlawful Sexual Intercourse.
These charges were later dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the court ordered Polanski to report to a state prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, but granted a stay of 90 days to allow him to complete his current project. Under the terms set by the court, he was permitted to travel abroad. Polanski returned to California and reported to Chino State Prison for the evaluation period, and was released after 42 days. All parties expected Polanski to get only probation at the subsequent sentencing hearing, but after an alleged conversation with LA Deputy District Attorney David Wells, judge Laurence J. Rittenband suggested to Polanski’s attorneys that he would send the director to prison and order him deported. As many journalists and historians suggest, this sudden, unexpected and unexplainable decision which was against all previous agreements, was judge Rittenband’s attempt to maintain his accidental celebrity status, extend his 15 minutes of fame and showcase his power over Hollywood celebrities. In response to the threat of imprisonment, Polanski fled the United States. He was a resident of France until his arrest in Swiss on September 26. It’s interesting to note that Polanski has a house in Swiss and he used to travel there regularly. What triggered this arrest, was the fact that in 2008, the documentary movie Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired examined this case thoroughly for the first time in 30 years, and many judicial misconducts which led to Polanski’s flee were revealed. Following the release of that movie, Polanski tried to get the conviction overthrown with the consent of the victim, and the judge said he couldn’t do it because Polanski had to be here in the Untied States in person. But the judge noted how troubled and upset he was by the judge Rittenband’s manipulation and misconduct. This was an embarrassing situation for California authorities who in response created a smoke screen by distracting the public opinion from their judicial misconduct through releasing Samantha Gailey’s first official testimony, prepared by her mother and arresting Polanski.
3. Closure: In 1988, Samantha Gailey filed a civil lawsuit, accusing Roman Polanski of sexual misconduct and seduction. In it, she did not repeat her 1977 testimony prepared by her mother, and there is no mention of rape. In October 1993, Polanski agreed to pay Gailey $500,000 with interest, according to the settlement documents. Since then, her attorneys were garnishing wages to Polanski from movie studios, his agent and the Screen Actors Guild, the records show. Collecting this payment is still in process, it hasn’t been completed and there’s no record indicating how much is exactly paid and how much is still owed. The last document in the file is an August 1996 statement saying the director still owed her $604,416. Nevertheless, Roman Polanski and Samantha Gailey have resolved this issue between themselves, and Gailey is now among Polanski’s supporters. In February 2003, after Polanski’s movie the Pianist was nominated for several academy awards including the best director, Samantha Gailey wrote an article in defense of Polanski, and the article was published in Los Angeles Times. In it, Gailey says about the incident: ‘It was a very long time ago, and it is hard to remember exactly the way everything happened.’ She continues: ‘We pressed charges, and he pleaded guilty. A plea bargain was agreed to by his lawyers, my lawyers and the district attorney, and it was approved by the judge. But to our amazement, at the last minute the judge went back on his word and refused to honor the deal. Worried that he was going to be sent to prison rather than just time he already served (42 days in Chino State Prison for the evaluation period), Mr. Polanski left the country. He’s never been back.’ In regards to Polanski’s nomination for the academy award, she writes: ‘I believe that Mr. Polanski and his movie should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me. I don’t think it would be fair to take past events into consideration. I think that the academy members should vote for the movies they feel deserve it.’
Furthermore, in January 2009, Samantha Gailey filed a legal declaration asking that the charges against Polanski be dismissed: ‘The insistence by prosecutors and the court that Polanski must appear in person to seek dismissal is a joke, a cruel joke being played on me. If Polanski cannot stand before the court to make this request, I, as the victim, can and I, as the victim do. I believe prosecutors are reciting sexually explicit details of the case to distract from their office’s own wrongdoing 31 years ago.’ She said in the declaration signed at her current home in Kilauea, Hawaii.
Polanski’s recent arrest is clearly nothing but a political stunt orchestrated by California authorities who felt humiliated by the recent chain of events from the release of the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired to Samantha Gailey’s declaration, etc. They wanted to prove that if they ever wanted to arrest Polanski, they could have. Also as Gailey mentions, they were agitated and disturbed over the exposure of their wrongdoings and judicial misconduct in this case, therefore they created a distraction by publishing the explicit details of Gailey’s first testimony and arresting Polanski. Now that Polanski is arrested, in order to bring him to an American court, they must go through the complicated diplomatic process of extradition: the U.S. must file formal extradition papers. Those are presented through a diplomatic note, from the State Department, working with the Office of International Affairs (OIA). See, Office of the Legal Advisor’s Law Enforcement and Intelligence (OLA/LEI).
After being approved by OIA, the formal extradition request is sent to Department of State’s OLA/LEI and then presented through diplomatic channels at the Department of State to the foreign government.
With all the attention brought to this case and the international support for Roman Polanski, it remains to be seen whether or not the State Department would be willing to involve themselves in this case, especially when they know even if they bring Polanski to the United States, in all likelihood the charges against him will be either dropped, or he will be sentenced to a few months in prison and paying a relatively small fine.
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Roman Polanski served his time in Chino state prison according to the initial agreement between his lawyers, Samantha Gailey’s lawyers, the district attorney and judge Rittenband. If it wasn’t for Rittenband‘s surprising misconduct, this issue would have been resolved in 1978. Nevertheless, this case came to its conclusion in 1993, when Polanski agreed to pay Gailey $500,000 with interest; and even though the specific details as to how much has been paid to this date and how much is still owed were not published, but what’s obvious is that Polanski and Gailey have reached an agreement and made peace. That’s why today Gailey is one of Polanski’s supporters and asks the academy to honor his art and profession and is willing to travel from Hawaii to California to go in front of the judge and ask for the case’s dismissal. If there was any doubt and hard feelings left, she would have never supported Polanski to this extent. At this point, it seems this case is about anything but justice and the truth; but if anybody is interested in knowing the truth and drawing a conclusion based on facts rather than raw emotions and hype, these were the facts. I’d like to finish this article by quoting a line from one of Roman Polanski’s classic movies. In Chinatown, when J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) goes to visit the mysterious Noah Cross (John Huston), Cross tells him: ‘You may think you know what you’re dealing with, but believe me, you don’t.’
Roman Polanski by Daniel Bird: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1903047897/romanpolanski-20
Polanski: A Biography by Christopher Sandford: http://www.amazon.com/Polanski-Biography-Christopher-Sandford/dp/0230607780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255201251&sr=1-1
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired by Marina Zenovich: http://www.amazon.com/Roman-Polanski-Desired-Pedro-Almod%C3%B3var/dp/B001HB1K46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1255202532&sr=1-1
The Motion to Dismiss: http://www.talkleft.com/legal/polanskimotion.pdf
The Victim’s Declaration http://www.talkleft.com/legal/polanskivictim.pdf