Roman Polanski: Justice Needs To Be Served

All this news about Roman Polanski has me thinking:  why is it that we “pardon” or overlook some individuals for their crimes? Polanski is not the only perpetrator to flee the state or country. Many others before him have done the same, yet they eventually served their time.  So why do some think he’s above the law?

There was John List. Remember him? At the age of 46, he killed his wife, 3 kids and his own mother in 1971. He walked away from that bloody crime and began a new life. He fell in love again, got married, got a job. Then, when he was 63 years old, America’s Most Wanted profiled how he might look aged. Calls came flooding in. Finally, police arrested List in 1989, some 18 years after he killed his family. Justice was served.

Then there was Ivan Demjanjuk who served as a Nazi commander in a death camp in occupied Poland in 1943. Some nine years later, he came to the US and changed his name to John. At the age 89, Demjanjuk was extradited from the US earlier this year. Justice was served.

There was the Kenneth John Freeman case. He raped his daughter when she was between the ages of 10 and 12 and posted it online. According to federal marshals, it was “one of  the most widely downloaded child pornography” of the time. He fled the country and went to China to work as a computer specialist. He was later extradited from Hong Kong. Justice was served.

Alexander Andrew Kelly was another convicted rapist. He was on the run for seven years, mostly in Europe. In 1995 when his passport expired, he surrended and was extradicted from Switzerland. Justice was served.

In 2002, Andrew Luster was on trial for drugging, raping and sodomizing women. In January 2003,  he fled the country and went to the beaches of Mexico. Being an heir to the Max Factor fortune, money was no problem. In June 2003, bounty hunters brought him back to America. Justice was served.

But then there are the celebrities. Anecdotally, it would seem they get star treatment, even in the courtroom. Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson were both accused of killing their partners, both got acquitted (although, they both lost their civil cases). Pro athtletes seem to get similar treatment.  USA Today had some interesting evidence of this  when Kobe Bryant was charged with rape (the accuser later dropped the charges against Bryant). USA Today looked at 168 allegations of sexual assault by athletes. Only 22 ever went to trial and just 6 ended in convictions. And earlier this year, Chris Brown seemed to be well-defended by his fans, while Rihanna, as reflected by one poll, “deserved” what she got. However, when one individual asked if Michelle Obama would “deserve” to be hit, the answer was an overwhelming no.

As a society, we seem to judge individuals by their occupations, and sometimes their looks, more so than the evidence on hand.  It can be similar in domestic violence cases. How many stories have you read of the “nice guy” that “inexplicably snaps.” (Oddly enough, or not so oddly, these guys all seem to be middle class white men.)  These guys aren’t much of a “nice guy” whatsoever. What often happens is reporters interview the guys’ neighbors. Most people seem nice when you’re just waving hello and goodbye from across the driveway or picket fence. Neighbors rarely know if the people next door to them have a history of domestic violence. 

It’s similar with child sexual abuse. Nobody wants to believe a friend, let alone a parent, molested a child. Yet, it happens. We have to take off our blinders. Perpetrators don’t come with a branded message on their foreheads. Some of them are “nice,” charming even, white, middle or upper class, fathers,  mothers, clergymen and rabbis. Heck, even the UN Peace Keepers were accused of using brothels, selling sex for food and raping children. Most of them got away with it, too. After all, who wants to convict a peacekeeper? 

And some perpetrators are directors. People’s occupation, looks or status in life do not entitle them to rape, violate and abuse other individuals with less clout and credibility. Impunity, in fact, is the greatest barrier to solving the problem of violence against women. This is a problem that many consider one of the greatest human rights abuses affecting this planet: rape, domestic violence, serial killings, sexual harassment, sexual slavery, acid attacks, female genital mutilation, breast ironing, stoning, honor killings, child brides, brideknapping, sex-selective abortions and infanticide – – it’s a long list of abuses that affect women and girls. And it’s time we take it seriously and use both prevention and punishment in our arsenal.

Roman Polanski drugged, raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl. It’s a case of gender-based violence. Fleeing the country to thwart justice was cowardly. He did not serve his time in France. He must do so here in the States where he committed his crime. It’s time he faced the charges and did his time. Justice needs to be served.     

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  • anonymous99

    "Pro athtletes seem to get similar treatment. USA Today had some interesting evidence of this when Kobe Bryant was charged with rape… USA Today looked at 168 allegations of sexual assault by athletes. Only 22 ever went to trial and just 6 ended in convictions." Evidence? Joan, did you say evidence? This is what you call evidence? I’ve seen some loose play with words on this site but this EASILY takes the cake. What you’re stating as evidence are simple statistics which prove absolutely nothing. There are, in fact, very real incentives for golddiggers to accuse wealthy athletes of sexual assault. Do you think that MIGHT be a reason for such a low conviction rate? Could it be that there just wasn’t any evidence of sexual assault when the FACTS were considered by DAs and jurys? A 3.6% conviction rate, huh. Plaxico Burress is in jail for accidentally shooting himself in the leg. I doubt Mr. Burress thinks he’s getting special treatment. There are so many things wrong with this post I couldn’t possibly address it all. Rather than all the "you-go-girl" replies to posts on this site I really wish you ladies would hold your peers to higher standards. I know you all do important work and I appreciate that but there’s no excuse for this.

  • anonymous99

    "Heck, even the UN Peace Keepers were accused of using brothels, selling sex for food and raping children. Most of them got away with it, too. After all, who wants to convict a peacekeeper?" Just because you’re accused of something doesn’t mean you did it. Do you understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty? Was there a trial for these people who "got away with it"? Did the evidence show they committed crimes but the jury just said awe shucks let ’em go, they’re Peace Keepers let’s not convict? Please explain. (And BTW using a brothel is hardly a horrible crime.)

  • claire-keyes

    While it’s true that the wealthy and powerful have always had better legal counsel (leading to a lower conviction rate), the media’s seeming inability to be unbiased seems more frightening. Regarding Roman Polanski, the media needs to refer to what actually happened.  It was not sex with a young girl but rather drugging, then sodomizing a child. And with Plaxico Burress, he is not going to jail for shooting himself in the leg, as anonymous 99 states, but rather for carrying an unlicensed gun in NY, a state that is notoriously strict on this issue.  In my own city recently, a man was imprisoned for dropping dietary and nutritional pamphlets into the lawn of a sports star, while abortion protesters who assault patients trying to enter a medical facility are given warnings week after week. 

  • anonymous99

    Claire, Thanks for backing me up on the Plaxico Burress situation.  Despite having great legal counsel he was not given special treatment and is sitting in prison right now.  BTW having better legal counsel does lead to a lower conviction rate for sure but that doesn’t mean those who "got off" were guilty.  The real problem with our court system is that those who are not well-off cannot defend themselves properly against government entities which have virtually unlimited funds.

  • catseye71352

    Anonymous99, exactly WHAT does a stupid rant about Kobe Bryant and “golddiggers” have to do with the fact that Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl? This could easily be construed aa meaning that you think that’s OK.

    No? They WHY the stupid red herrings?

    Catseye  ( (|) )

  • anonymous99

    Catseye, you really are exceptional at putting words into people’s mouths. For the record I don’t think it’s OK to drug and rape 13-yr-old girls. Your attempt to bully me into keeping quiet about this ridiculous post has failed miserably. The article was not about Polanski at all but rather a "rant" about how celebrities, "middle class white men", Peace Keepers, and others get away with abusing women and girls because of their status (did you even read the article). Not only does Joan not provide evidence that this is even happening, she willfully misuses the word "evidence" to make it appear there’s a basis for her claim. And she is supposedly a professional. I’m not the one using a red herring here Catseye, that’s you.

  • jo

    The article in USA Today does provide some evidence. Which word would you suggest I use in place of evidence? To my knowledge, researchers haven’t looked at celebrities and justice in the CJ system- but I could be wrong.

    May I also remind you that this is not a scholarly piece – it was an opinion piece. You may hold me to a higher standard – for what ever reason you may have – but in my opinion R Polanski should serve his time and I’m not going to cite scholarly journals for backing up my moral opinion.


    May I ask where you get YOUR EVIDENCE about women being gold diggers? I’ve done a good deal of research on "false allegations" – whether pertaining to domestic violence, rape, child sexual abuse, etc. – research does not support the claims made by most of the ranters on these boards that blindly call women and children liars.


  • jo

    There was enough evidence presented by human rights organizatons. I wrote an article about it here –


    [Opinion] Sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers


    Researching this topic, you may come to the same conclusion. Flat out refusing to believe the peacekeepers committed any crimes….well, that’s a whole ‘nother article.

  • jo

    "It will be challenging. Just between February 2003 and October 2005 alone, there were 221 cases of sexual misconduct. Impunity was often the outcome. The U.N. peacekeepers are immune from local laws. Some countries don’t even have sexual assault laws. In the end, the alleged suspect is often merely repatriated home.

    "Most countries have little interest in seeing their peacekeepers brought to trial for crimes committed while ‘doing good deeds’ elsewhere in the world," according to Refugees International. It doesn’t seem to matter that they are U.N. peacekeepers committing human rights violations.

    According to BBC News, the U.N. said it was only aware of two cases where sex offenders were sent to jail when the peacekeepers were repatriated, although there could be others."



    There were plenty of articles on this topic – you come to your own conclusion….

  • anonymous99

    There is NO evidence of anything in the USA Today article.  It’s just statistics.  "To my knowledge, researchers haven’t looked at celebrities and justice in the CJ system…"  Thank you.  There is no evidence whatsoever for you to base your claim that these athletes got special treatment.  Neither you nor I has any idea why the conviction rate was so low in these cases.  We can only speculate.  Be more careful.  There’s no need to make false or exagerated claims in regard to any type of abuse.  You’re not helping your cause by doing this.

  • anonymous99

    "…but in my opinion R Polanski should serve his time…"  I initially thought this case was as simple as that also.  It just doesn’t appear that way however.  According to Marcia Clark Polanski can withdraw his guilty plea.  Given Ms. Geimer’s statements over the years I think it’s very possible that she’ll simply refuse to cooperate with the DA to try him in court.  Could it be that she’s been telling the DA this all along?  How easy would it be to try Polanski without the victim’s testimony?  Very difficult perhaps?  Could this be the reason the DA has dragged its feet all these years?  Perhaps this isn’t a case of special treatment.