28 September 2009

Polanski's Baby

More than 30 years ago the director Roman Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old girl. Even without knowing the details of the incident, we can probably (most of us) agree that there is an unacceptable power differential between an adolescent teen and a forty-something man of the world. To avoid a likely sentence of 16 years, and a max of 50, Polanski fled the United States and hasn't been back. A few years ago the United States Marshal's Office decided to get him back, and arranged with neutral or extradition-friendly governments to trap this man. They got him last week in Switzerland, where money is more honored than, well, honor.

Polanski is 76, and his "victim" is 44, and neither want anything more to do with the justice system than they did 31 years ago, which is to say they wanted and want nothing to do with it. The case was poorly handled then by a publicity-loving judge who was opposed in his sentencing plan for Polanski by both defense and prosecuting attorneys. Having examined every possible aspect of the case, two sets of probation investigators and more psychiatrists decided probation, and not prison, was the appropriate remedy for what Polanski did. A very good documentary about the case, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," makes a compelling argument against the judge, and against an uninformed opinion about what justice in this case would mean. It's available at Netflix, and elsewhere.

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