Roman Polanski should be sentenced. Plain and simple.
Although some countries have attempted to identify Polanski as the “victim,” not to mention Whoopi Goldberg’s outlandish statement that Polanski’s actions with the 13-year-old girl did not constitute “rape rape,” let’s not forget the facts of Polanski’s case, for which he knowingly and voluntarily pled guilty to. He drugged a 13-year-old girl and had vaginal and anal sex with her, against her will. And, “against her will” has two meanings here: 1) she told him “no” multiple times and 2) a 13 year old girl under the law now and under the law then does not have the capacity to legally consent to sex with an adult.
His actions were heinous. His actions were despicable. His actions constituted a sex crime. And the description of his intentional actions against this young girl indicates in no uncertain terms that this was not some sort of aberrant act in the heat of passion and drugs. Instead, it shows both a course of conduct and a belief by Polanski that he is above the law.
That sentiment of putting his own interest above that of society is underscored by the fact that shortly after he pled guilty to the felony charge, he knowingly skipped town to avoid justice. It is one thing to argue that the judge in that case was hell bent on sending him to jail for a very long time. It is a completely different thing for a criminal defendant to take the law into his own hands and leave the country to avoid the prosecution. That is not how a system based on the rule of law works. Imagine if every defendant after pleading guilty or being convicted after a trial skipped the country because, well, he or she did not think he would be treated fairly. That’s why we have an appellate process. That’s why we have the law.
I am not going to end my post here advocating that Polanski should be shot or sent to jail for the rest of his life like some others out there. Serious questions need to be raised about why it took so long for Polanski to be reigned in. To Polanski and others, their sentiment is, “If the crime were so serious to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, why didn’t they come after me sooner?”
But those questions are completely separate and apart from whether Polanski should be sentenced and formally convicted (you are “convicted” once you are sentenced, not when you plead guilty). Those are two separate inquiries that his lawyers and the French government are trying to meld together as one. Put another way, they are saying because it took so long for the D.A.’s office to “get” Polanski, it means that the charges should be dismissed. Those type of arguments usually carry more weight when the defendant skipped town before a trial. With a trial, memories of witnesses fade, evidence is lost, etc. Here, defendant pled guilty and there is no suggestion that his plea was taken unknowingly and involuntarily. The minutes tell no lie. It is irrelevant now that the victim of the sex crime has publically forgiven him.
His actions of flagrantly skipping town negates any mitigating factor that his guilty plea should be vacated. Hopefully, the Swiss court should use its good judgment in not releasing Polanski pending the extradition hearing. And, when all is said and done, the LA County District Attorney’s Office should fashion a sentence that is fair and in proportion to the crime he pled guilty to, and not seek a sentence out of vengeance.