Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.
Well, preposterous or not, laws are still laws, and Polanski still broke them, which means he should have been punished. But apparently he wasn’t – he fled justice instead, right?
Wrong. As totally wrong as the previous notions of “rape” and “child” were.
If we look at the case, we’ll see that from the word go it was nothing but a travesty of justice.
First of all, we have the complaint: drugging and raping.
Medical examination – the most important in this case – shows nothing at all.
Drug test – second most important – is not carried out.
Psychiatric examination of the alleged wrongdoer shows that he is by no means a MSDO (mentally disordered sex offender).
The natural move of the defense under the circumstances is to require psychiatric examination of the girl. I believe everyone understands why: imagine that tomorrow you (if you are male) or your brother, father, or son is accused of rape, and the medical examination of the alleged victim shows nothing, no trace of penetration, although her complaint abounds in picturesque details (double dry sodomy including). It would seem necessary that an expert estimate to what extent the lady is prone to letting her imagination run wild, especially taking it into consideration that, as we have already seen, other details of her tale are either not corroborated, or flatly refuted by evidence or witnesses.
Now, how she is “a victim to a crime” before anything was proved and all evidence testified to the contrary is above me, but it shows, yet again, how justice worked in this case. “Come on, judge”, the roles are already assigned, we’ll take her unsubstantiated words for granted and never subject them to any analysis.
I mean, never.
There were at least five opportunities to put her tale to any kind of test, and none of them was used.
1. Psychiatric examination? – called off. “Come on, judge,” we know she is a victim and we know it was a crime, we do not need anything that could cast a shadow of doubt upon our prescience.
2. Therapy? – she refused. Would any genuine victim do so? Hardly. Would someone who didn’t want a specialist to have a close look? You bet.
3. Cross-examination by defense? – she refused, violently supported by her mother and attorney. Not to traumatize her further? Sorry. There is a lot of evidence and her own statements to the effect that she wasn’t traumatized by anything except the media. Also, the “traumatized” theory doesn’t jibe with her explicit refusal of counseling.
4. Questioning by the Grand Jury? – we’ve already seen the quality of this questioning. They do not ask any crucial questions. They let her ramble on without trying to clarify any vital details, as if afraid closer scrutiny would ruin their case - which it obviously would have done.
5. Trial? – the case never went to trial. The girl, her mother, and their attorney, all pressed for plea bargain.
Taken together, all this paints a sordid picture: one can get away with a false rape cry without having to be asked any unpleasant questions by anyone. But it is only the beginning.
We’ve already seen the Grand Jury farce; the corrupt evidence swept under the carpet, the evidence that states no trace of penetration ignored, the inconsistencies in the girl’s testimony turned deaf ear upon, crucial witnesses not called. Now what? Trial or plea bargain?
Apparently, a trial would be the better choice: adequate defense would poke such holes in Samantha’s testimony that, with the total absence of evidence (except corrupted), Polanski could have been cleared then and there. In Marina Zenovich’s documentary Roger Gunson (the prosecutor on the case) explains what it was that he was going to build his case on:
“Every Roman Polanski movie has a theme, corruption meeting innocence over water. I says, "Oh, well, that's sort of what we have here, corruption, Roman Polanski, meeting innocence, a 13-year-old girl, over water, meaning the Jacuzzi. I felt I was going to be able to pretty well convey to some jurors that this happened and he had directed a scene very similar to this in his real life.”
Wait, wait! No, I am not even going to say that it is impossible not to see that in his every movie Polanski strongly and invariably identifies with the victim, or that associating this particular girl with “innocence” would be stretching the truth beyond all reasonable limits… I only want to ask, Mr.Gunson, are you serious? That was your case?
Well, yes. Serious. As serious as Silver with his “come on, Judge” as an argument as to why a crucial examination shouldn’t be carried out. As serious as the Grand Jury who keep dead silence whenever the girl Samantha puts forward her “I was afraid” trump.
That was their case, because, as we have seen, they didn’t have anything else. Hell, all he had to do was to deny everything, and nobody could have ever proved there was any intercourse at all.
But, as we know, there never was a trial. The girl, her mother, and their attorney all insisted that there shouldn’t be one (we have already analyzed their reasons for this). They used all the necessary “spare her the ordeal” rhetoric, and Polanski agreed to plead.
Why didn’t Douglas Dalton, the attorney for defense, insist on a trial? It seems there were two main reasons. First of all, there apparently was an intercourse, and for Polanski, who throughout his life impresses me as a thoroughly honest man, I think it was easier to tell the truth and get it over with. Next, a trial is a lottery. Even with all existing evidence speaking in Polanski’s favor, even with Samantha’s bizarre conglomerate of lies being so easy to poke holes in, even with such a trump as the Gailey’s attempt to deceive the authorities with that notorious stain on the panties, still too much would have depended on the personal attitude of the Jury.
Let’s not forget that Shield Laws already worked at that time, and Samantha’s previous sex history wouldn’t have been taken into consideration. The Jury would have had to disregard the fact that she had had sexual experience, and view her just as they would a 13-year-old virgin. The prospects of cross-examination would also have been rather dim, with the prosecution able to pull psychological trauma from their sleeve at any moment. In other words, the defense might not have been allowed to expose the girl as a liar.
This is likely, given the attitude of the judge. Judge Lawrence Rittenband’s personality and unethical attitude has been extensively analyzed both in Zenovich’s documentary and here by Brenneman, reporter who worked on the case and knows it inside out. In short, Rittenband was a racist and a xenophobe, for whom a Polish Jew, French citizen, creator of bizarre movies was like a red rag to a bull; moreover, Rittenband was known as a media whore and a man totally dependent on the opinion of the Establishment, first and foremost his elite Hillcrest Club buddies. Brenneman states, ”The judge grabbed the case, I believe, because it promised more clippings for his scrapbook, and because it would give him plenty of grist for his daily lunchtime conversations at the Hillcrest”. It is also interesting to note that as soon as he got acquainted with the case, he immediately cut to the core, saying (quoted by Brenneman), “What is this? Another mother/daughter hooker team?” But that wouldn’t be as preciously sensational as a case of a famous director being a child rapist; such a delicious feather in the judge’s cap.
Now, if the jury consisted of similarly prejudiced people, and the prosecution produced their “victim” in a girly dress, with no makeup and her hair in braids, imprinting the picture of a “little girl” in the minds of the jurors, all their demagogy (the only thing they had) could have hit the weak spots of the Jury. Had the defendant been another Eroll Flynn, all-American sweetheart, or had he been making family movies understandable for everyone and popular with housewives, had he been a husband and father with unshakable reputation, and a WASP with the last name “Smith”, his chances would be better, but being what he was, he was an easy target for all kinds of prejudice – and the possibility of being convicted of “rape by use of drugs”, however preposterous, was too high a risk to run. “Roman was the perfect villain for them. He was a foreigner. He had a thick accent. He made lots of money in the movie business. He was short. He was perfect.” (Daniel Melnick, producer)
On the other hand, let me remind you once again, the Jury could have consisted of unbiased people with enough common sense to ask themselves some crucial questions, and expect the prosecution to answer: if it was a rape, where are any traces? If there was anal sex, where are any marks? If he came inside her anus, where is his semen? If she was drugged beyond resistance, why didn’t the police see fit to test her blood? Whose stain is it on her panties? Why did the family have to drag the false evidence in? What explains mother’s peculiar role? Why did the girl walk and swim in the pool naked? Why do her statements contradict those of Angelica Huston? What was she so tremendously afraid of? Why didn’t she resist? Why didn’t she try to up and walk out? How exactly was he able to do, without using force, what he allegedly did, unless helped by her? Remember that the European media had already given accounts of the girl’s history and background, so even when asked not to take these into consideration, some jurors still might not buy the “innocent victim” picture thrust upon them.
“Silver had made it clear to the District Attorney’s office that his client [Gailey] would not cooperate with the prosecution. Without her, making the case would be impossible, so a plea bargain was struck.” (Brenneman)
Thus, the plea bargain seemed to be the best way out for both sides. Here we’re coming to a turning point in this story.
At the moment when the plea agreement was reached, everyone seemed happy with it. Let’s review the conditions: Polanski pleads “unlawful sexual intercourse” (which is the only charge that holds water anyway – the DA’s plea bargain policy demanded that the defendant plead guilty to the most serious charge, while unlawful sexual intercourse was the least serious; thus the plea bargain confirms once again what we already know: it was the only genuine charge). In return, the judge promises probation, if both probation report and psychiatric evaluation are favorable: this is explicitly confirmed by all parties involved, in Zenovich’s documentary and elsewhere. It is all the safer bet for the defense because all men who had been charged with the same within a few previous years got probation – nobody was sentenced to a prison term. Now, Polanski serves his probation, which he is perfectly willing to do, the girl is spared the “ordeal”, the prosecution keeps face, the Gaileys are able to file their lawsuit and have the money, case closed?
But then the surreal part started.
“People have the right to their own opinions about what happened, but they don't have the right to their own facts. The fact of Polanski leaving the country and so forth seems to have eclipsed the really important part of this case about what actually happened to the system of justice.
I remain astounded after all these years. This case will never leave me.” (Douglas Dalton)
On August 8, 1977 Polanski made his plea. Whose perverted idea was it to make it on the anniversary of Manson murders, or was it a coincidence? Too much for a coincidence, it would seem; but whatever it was, it was the perfect epigraph for the kafka-esque developments.
Now, everything depended on the result of probation report and psychiatric evaluation. The latter meant examination by two psychiatrists who were supposed to decide whether or not Polanski was a MDSO – mentally disordered sex offender. If they had decided he was, he would have faced commitment to a state mental hospital.
The psychiatric report was, however, extremely favorable. We’ve already seen excerpts that explicitly state that Polanski is not a pedophile. Dr.Ronald Markham, one of the psychiatrists, says: “it was my opinion that Mr.Polanski did not qualify as a MDSO, and shouldn’t be handled as such”.
The probation report, of which we have also seen excerpts, only states in a concise manner everything I’ve endeavored to convey in my lengthy article: the girl was willing, she was mature, there was no rape, the whole case is an isolated instance of transient poor judgment.
You see, they were there. They saw the girl, they talked to her. They saw the family. They saw the documents. They were not prejudiced, and they saw the case exactly as it was.
Well? The defense satisfied all the conditions, right? Now, at last, there would be this probation sentence the probation department recommended, and we’ll see the last of this case?
Now, the DA assistant David Wells comes into play. In the W&D documentary, he says, “My feeling was the guy belonged in state prison”. Very well. It wasn’t the opinion of the probation department, it wasn’t that of the “victim’s” family, it wasn’t anything that could be confirmed by any evidence, it was a “feeling”. He proceeds: “Rittenband had asked me about it, I said, “Judge, you know you are going to give this guy probation.” He said, “No, no, I am going to send him to jail.””
This is nice to hear. Both Gunson and
say the judge promised probation (after his conditions were satisfied – which they were to a nicety), otherwise the defense wouldn’t have agreed to the bargain. The probation report says, “Jail is not being recommended at the present time.” Nobody goes to jail for the same offenses at the time. But Polanski case is different, right? And the judge allows himself to be influenced by everyone whose opinion matters to him personally: the media, the establishment, and the DA’s office. Doing so, conferring with journalists (“Dick, tell me what the heck do I do with Polanski,” Brenneman says Rittenband asked him), his friends in the club (as we’ll see later) and the DA’s, he directly breaks the law. Dalton
Wells: “No matter what the sentence was if it included a day in jail,
, and correctly so, would have appealed it”. Correctly so, very true. But they had that “feeling”, you know, against all evidence, against common sense, against logic, against the probation department recommendations, against all materials of the case. This “feeling” has a name: it’s prejudice, pure and simple. That’s, in short, what happened to Polanski – he fell victim to extremely prejudiced judge and DA. Dalton
They want him to go to jail, is all. “It is believed that incalculable emotional damage could result from incarcerating the defendant whose own life has been a seemingly unending series of punishments,” the probation report says. I wonder if it was exactly the reason why they came up with a devilish idea Wells boasts originated in his mind.
Wells: “[Rittenband] says, “Well, what should I do?” I said, “You know what you should do is set him up for 90 days observation (…). It’s not a final sentence, he can’t appeal it. He has to go.”
Observation? In a clinic? Fat chance. In the psychiatric department of
prison. Clever, isn’t it? We have nothing on him serious enough to sentence him to jail, so we want to torture him as good as we can – that’s how it all sounds to me. They already had the results of his psychiatric examinations, for God’s sake! They already knew he was not a mentally disordered sex offender; what was the purpose of another evaluation supposed to be? They longed to see him behind the bars, that’s what. Based entirely on that “feeling” they had. Chino
However, if we abstract from the fact that it would be a tremendous psychological and emotional ordeal for a man who had suffered many severe traumas in his life, there was really nothing else to worry about: the defense was sure (and correctly so) that all reports would be favorable; thus, if this unnecessary (on top of others already conducted) “psychiatric evaluation” satisfied the judge’s blood lust, it could be considered to serve its purpose.
By that time Polanski ran out of money, and had been offered a job by Dino Laurentis: a remake of The Hurricane. He had to take it because his legal bills were mounting, and there was no other source of money (he later said he didn’t even have the money to pay for defense). The judge instructed
to ask for the stays (the delay of “diagnostic study”) in 90 days increments, which he would continue to grant for up to 1 year – that’s approximately how long it would take to complete the film. Dalton
Dalton: “What he wanted to do was have us go out into open court and pretend as though... - I don't know if he'd use the word pretend... - but not to divulge that we knew what was going to happen. He said, "I want you to go out, Gunson, and you argue that Polanski should be placed in custody, and,
, you go out, and you argue that he should be put on probation. Then I will make my remarks, and I will sentence him to Dalton for the diagnostic study, and the press need not know anything more about this. If you do not tell the press about this, and if Polanski receives a good report from the probation department, which we all are quite sure he will, that will conclude his punishment." Chino
Gunson: “That was the fabrication that he... - the scenario that he wanted to present and he did present.”
After the comedy was over, the media were informed that Polanski was going to undergo another psychiatric testing at Chino State Prison, and granted a 3- month stay to conclude his present work. As we remember, the judge was going to subsequently grant further stays, but didn’t reveal it to the press.
Now, Polanski goes to Europe to work on pre-production, and eventually comes to
where Hans Mollinger takes him to Oktoberfest. Munich
Mollinger: “Roman actually didn't want to go, but we said, "You have to see that, because this is unbelievable. And he said, "Okay."
So they went, in the company of friends. And there happened to be a photographer, Istvan Bajat, who couldn’t miss such an opportunity; thus, Polanski’s Oktoberfest photo appeared in newspapers.
Curiously, there’s nothing special about it – a man is smoking a cigar with a keg of beer in front of him. But everything depends on interpretation; and the interpretation of Dave Wells, who hurried to take the newspaper with the photo to Judge Rittenband, was as follows:
And what I told him was, I said, "You know, Judge, you've made so many mistakes, I think, in this case. Look, he's giving you the finger. He's flipping you off."
And I said, "Haven't you had enough of this?"
He says, "What? What? He's not getting away with that."
Hey? Enough of what? Not getting away with what? Smoking, or drinking beer? Since when is it legally punishable, or considered “flipping off” judges? Even though the photograph was cropped to make one think he was sitting in the company of two women (although in fact there were lots of people around and the girls were accompanied by their boyfriends and/or husbands), what’s so criminal about this? Even if they hadn’t been anybody’s wives, even if one of them – or both, for Chrissake! – had been his lover at the moment, what does that have to do with the price of tea in
? Gunson tries to argue that the Judge was infuriated because “Mr. Polanski is supposed to be very focused and intent when he's working, and this photograph demonstrated that at that moment in time, he was not,” – but seriously guys, what do anybody’s working habits have to do with a criminal case? Surely the pre-production of a movie can’t go on nonstop in 24-hours-a-day mode? China
Lorenzo Semple, Jr.: “Roman always did have bad luck. And this is the kind of thing that a cautious person would not have dreamed of doing. I mean, they would have had themselves photographed in the cathedral” A cautious person, or rather a hypocrite, or someone who felt he was guilty and thus endeavored to present himself in the best light. Not someone who was just trying to relax for a moment after the surreal hell he’d been through for 7 months by now, and before descending into a new circle of the same hell.
Brenneman: “With that, the Hillcrest wives shit hit the Rittenband fan. No sooner had the weekend edition of the Outlook hit West L.A. stoops that the phone in Rittenband’s Century City high-rise condo began to clamor, with his pals and their outraged spouses demanding to know how he could have “let that pervert” free to cavort with more young women.”
And here a couple of interesting questions arise. The judge orders a new diagnostic study to make sure the defendant is not a dangerous maniac-rapist-pedophile, right? Does it mean the judge is not sure the defendant isn’t all that? If he is not sure, why does the judge let him free to go wherever he likes? To let him “rape” some more “children”? Absurd. So, the judge does know (as is clear from already existing results of psychiatric evaluation) that the defendant is not a maniac, not a pedophile, not a rapist? Why another study, then?
I know I have already answered this question, but I want us to focus on this one more time, because this point is truly revealing. Yes, they wanted to torture him some more, and this was purely personal; but another aspect that clearly manifests itself is that they wanted to gain as much time as possible, to delay giving that probation sentence as long as they could – hence the unnecessary evaluation and the generous stays – waiting for him to stumble. And he didn’t. Not only didn’t he rape anybody – he never did in his whole life, and they couldn’t expect him to – but he didn’t commit any offense, of any kind, didn’t get involved in any sex scandal, or any other type of scandal, didn’t even make any rash statement that could be used against him.
All he did was going out to smoke a cigar and drink some beer.
And they used this against him. Because there was nothing else. Again. And the conveniently “infuriated” judge ordered him to get back to the States, immediately. And Polanski got back to the States, immediately. Which he wouldn’t have done if he had ever intended to “flee justice”. I think he still held some hope that there was justice for him.
Laurentis testified that Polanski wasn’t doing anything that would be contrary to pre-production work, but in vain – the judge refused to grant any further stays (clearly seeing, I dare say, that no worse crime than going out for a beer was ever to be expected). And thus, Polanski finally went to prison to undergo this “psyche evaluation”, or, in other word, to satisfy the judge’s and the DA’s sadistic instincts.
I will spare you the emotional part – what it must have felt like, being among insane criminals – I’ll only say that he volunteered for cleaning duty, clearly to work himself to exhaustion in order to take his mind off the nightmare, although the “protective custody” would have allowed him to remain in the safety of his cell. Anyway, he was released after 43 days: the psychiatrists couldn’t think of a reason why he should have been kept there longer. Their findings were as conclusive as could be. Not a MSDO. Without psychiatric deviation. But we already knew that. And so did the judge.
Anyway, it was over, wasn’t it?
Gunson: Between the time that the judge agreed that the 90-day diagnostic study be his sentence, there had been lots of new media reports very critical of the judge.
Why, of course. If the media are constantly told the key words - ‘rape’ and ‘child’, how do you expect them to react? Who cares if both words are lies, they are what makes a sensation, a scandal so desired by everyone.
Vanatter: You know, he was charged with very serious crimes. You're talking about crimes that would incur state prison time, maybe 10, 15, 20 years in state prison. 13-year-old girl, where he had sexual intercourse with her, sodomized her, gave her drugs, gave her alcohol. He got off with nothing.
See what he does? He repeats all this “girl”, “sodomy”, and “gave her alcohol/drugs” bullshit as if it was God’s truth. He says “he was charged…” and then makes this sleight of hand to make the listener believe the charges were proved. The only charge that was sound was “unlawful sexual intercourse”, and I am appalled to see a man who works in law enforcement resorting to the foul trick of deliberately confusing “charged” and “convicted”. No wonder the media opted for neglecting this subtle difference too – and berate the judge for being lenient.
But the media pressure wasn’t the only one the judge was subjected to.
Hawk Koch: My father was at Hillcrest Country Club, washing his hands in the locker room. And standing next to him was Judge Rittenband. And one of the gentlemen at Hillcrest came up to Rittenband and said, "Are you really gonna let that little Polish [blah-blah-blah] off?" And Rittenband said, "Well, he thinks so, but no way. "We're gonna put that little [blank-blank] away for the rest of his life.
That’s how this kind of justice is done: in the locker rooms of clubs. Anyone still surprised he eventually fled?
See? Not the materials of the case, since, as we have seen, there was nothing there. Their opinion was the only thing that mattered to the judge, and his behavior at this moment was unpredictable. To begin with, he intended to send Polanski back to
for the rest of the 90-day “evaluation”, and then what? Gunson said Rittenband had deportation in mind, something that is clearly illegal as it is not within a judge’s jurisdiction; but there might have been anything. Chino
And Rittenband said he was not willing to do that, because the perception of a prison sentence must be maintained for the press. He told me that if I would come back to court after the press was gone and the public was gone, that he would then recall Polanski and he would be released from prison.
or Gunson were willing to participate in this sham (their own word): the defendant being left at the mercy of a judge who was acting on a whim, unprofessionally, unethically and illegally. Dalton
Gunson: Doug Dalton turned to me and said, "Do you think that I can trust the judge?" And I said something that I wish I hadn't said, and maybe it did
or didn't make a difference, but I shouldn't have said it. And what I said to him was, "I don't know why not. You trusted him once”.
Right. Everyone clearly realized the situation at this moment, and the situation was: the judge can’t be trusted, and anything may be expected.
Roman said to me, "Can we trust him?"
And I said, "No, we can't trust him. We have no idea what he may do. We've all agreed that he can no longer be trusted, and what he represents to us is worthless."
With that, Roman got up, looked at me, and I believe he said, "I'll see you guys later," and he left the room.
He left the room, and he left the country. I don’t think anyone in his right mind could repeat this “fled justice” nonsense now. He fled injustice, and he did so prompted by his own attorney. Polanski had satisfied all the demands, he had done all he was told to do, and was, in fact, the only participant of the comedy who honored the law; and then there was no more hope. Now I think you understand why Ms.Gailey’s own attorney said, “he was supposed to be treated fairly in court, and he clearly was not.”
In the documentary, Gunson says, “I'm not surprised that he left under those circumstances.” His interviewer wants this point to sink in, and asks him, “Really?” He pauses for a moment to consider, and firmly says, “Yes.”
Polanski left the
US on February 1st, and on February 24 Rittenband was removed from the case as a result of a declaration (prepared by and backed by Gunson) accusing him of prejudice. But by then it was too late. Dalton
It is often claimed that Polanski is safe in
France because France doesn’t extradite criminals to the if they are French citizens. This is, of course, another piece of nonsense. It's discretionary on the part of US France
to return French citizens, which means it is up to them to decide whether or not a citizen is a criminal. American media make it sound as if
shelters a rapist and a pedophile; but it is time to acknowledge reality. France shelters Polanski because they see the case for what it was: “an isolated instance of transient poor judgement” – paid for by prison time – and gross judicial misconduct from other participants, first of all the judge and the DA’s office. The behavior of French government confirms all we already know about the case, and this behavior has been consistent ever since 1978, much as the US media try to make people believe all those decades France was motivated by depravity of its pervert administration (no sarcasm here, not really: it’s what some media actually say). France
. Common sense and desire to honor the law (as opposed to the voluntarism of the France legal system) prevailed in all other countries that ever received the extradition request for Polanski. The best known instance, entertaining the public since September 27, 2009 till July 12, 2010 ended in the same: USA didn’t want to play the dishonest game of Switzerland LA District Attorney.
But this asks for some looking into, since it reveals more absurdity, misconduct, cheating, and contempt for law from the part of people who are supposed to enforce it. In the next chapters we’ll see now how far they can go in their desperate attempts at saving face.