Roman Polanski is in the news again, thanks to the rather sympathetic treatment he got in the new HBO-run documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired." Today the L.A. Times reported that the documentary's ending was changed after the debunking of one of the most explosive accusations – that a stardom-hungry judge offered him a deal with no jail time if the proceedings could be televised.
In the wake of the recent soft-focus camerawork on Polanski, The Smoking Gun does what it does best — it goes to the documents. Today they give us the grand jury testimony of the 13-year-old victim, whom Polanski photographed nude and supplied with alcohol and quaaludes before ignoring her refusals and raping her vaginally and anally. The testimony shows a straight-up case of the rape of a 13-year-old.
The documentary's central conceit — and Polanski's long-standing complaint — is that the judge who was to sentence him was a rogue and would have hammered him with a long sentence for self-promoting reasons. But this does not make Polanski even marginally more of a sympathetic figure. Polanski had the same rights and remedies available to any other defendant — a motion to disqualify the judge if he had evidence of genuine misconduct, an appeal, a habeas corpus motion. Facing a capricious judge does not make Polanski even a little bit unusual or special. What makes him unusual and special is that he had the resources to flee the country and live in luxury, and that he enjoyed continuing artistic and cultural adulation despite the fact that he had, even if you only focus on what he admitted to, screwed an under-the-influence 13-year-old.
Polanski is no hero. He's a child-rapist who used his wealth and power to evade justice. Bear that in mind as you see fawning discussions like this contemptible one by Tom Shales, which is almost French in its air of amusement and indifference about what Polanski did.
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