He’s an Oscar-winning director who has lived an extraordinary life. His mother died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, his pregnant wife was murdered by Charlie Manson’s gang, and he is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of his time. He’s also a fugitive child rapist who has been on the run for over 30 years.
But now it seems the opportunity to end Roman Polanski’s prolonged avoidance of prison has presented itself. He is in Swiss Custody at this very moment.
Yet the controversy continues.
138 people in the film industry have signed a petition demanding his immediate release. Why? They argue that he is 76-years-old and had a one-time lapse of morality, but his life should be measured by his body of work. He has suffered enough. Besides, some argue, Samatha Geimer (the victim) wants the charges dropped, so everyone should let it go.
In 1977, Polanski agreed in court that Geimer’s testimony was accurate. He gave her champagne and Quaaludes during a supposed photo shoot and then repeatedly refused her pleas to be let go while he raped her for hours.
This year, Geimer filed an appeal to have the charges dropped. She did not retract her original testimony, but wants the prolonged ordeal to end.
Yet, the larger issue at hand is accountability. Feminist blogger Sady Doyle put it best: “The social penalties for reporting a rape are so severe, and the odds for successfully making a case are so small, that we effectively encourage women to let rapists get away with it, and discourage them from holding rapists accountable.”
Samantha Geimer spoke out against Polanski in 1977 and he ran away from being held accountable for his actions, prolonging the social consequences of Geimer’s decision to testify against the man who raped her. By running, Polanski has extended the intrigue and controversy surrounding the trial, sensationalizing the case, and as a result, Geimer and her family remain under social examination to this day.
“I am no longer a 13-year-old child” she wrote in court papers filed in January. “I have dealt with the difficulties of being a victim, have surmounted and surpassed them with one exception. Every time this case is brought to the attention of the court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others. That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of the case.”
While I want to honor her request to make it all go away, it never really will until Polanski is held accountable for what he did to her back in 1977.
If he had served his time in the 70’s, I honestly believe Geimer would have been able move on (as much as one can) and out of the spotlight. Much of the controversy and intrigue surrounding the case is the result of Polanski becoming a fugitive while remaining a major contributor to the film industry. I think she, more than he, has suffered long enough.
Talent and accomplishments aside, it’s time to hold him accountable for what he did 30 years ago.