Does Being an “Artist” Trump Being a Rapist

by Melissa Silverstein on September 29, 2009

in Politics

So much has been written about the Roman Polanski saga of late.  The lingering questions of why after 30 years did the prosecutors decide now was the time to arrest him.  The fact that the victim wants to move on.  The amount of resources being spent on a way old case when more pressing things are clearly on the agenda of the broke state of California and so on.  But when I saw Debra Winger get up in front of a microphone and defend him on top of the petition that artists and actors have signed  calling for his release I got pissed.

It made me pissed for victims who have never gotten their day in court and for victims who have to fight the system to be heard and believed. The thing that people who are standing up for him don’t want to remember IS THAT HE IS A RAPIST.  It’s not even a story of miscommunication or a he said/she said date rape (not that those aren’t rape either).  It was the statutory rape of a 13-year-old.

The last time this story became a big deal was in 2003 when his film The Pianist (a great movie) was nominated and won several Oscars, including an Oscar for Polanski for best director.  Of course, he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he would have been  jailed for the rape.  Here’s what his victim (her name is Samantha Geimer) said at that time to ABC:

“I would love to see him resolve it,” Geimer said. “And I think we’ve always had the position of, you know, the sooner the better. For the whole last 20 years, if we could just put this to rest that would be great.”

“We did photos with me drinking champagne,” Geimer said. “He was friendly and then right toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized, you know, he had some other intentions and then I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there.”

And whether or not it was consensual:

“Just by saying no, you know, several times, and then I just kind of gave up on that,” Geimer said.

Why does Roman Polanski get a different set of rules?  He is a convicted rapist who lured his victim a 13-year old girl (now in her 40s with three children) under the guise of taking pictures to help her career and then gave her champagne and quaaludes before raping her.   He also denied the rape at first by saying it was consensual and then he dismissed it by saying it just happened.  Geimer and her mother were also called liars by the media believing that she was going after Polanski to further her career.

I’m not doubting his talents as a director.  He could have put this thing behind him decades ago.  His lack of understanding and caring about how his actions effect his victim is so self-centered.  The thing about this story is that while the perpetrator is a world renowned director the crime is sadly familiar and common.

Roman Polanski Rep Says Justice Has Already Been Served (ABC News)

Polanski Child Sex Victim Speaks Out (ABC News)


{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Kara M. September 29, 2009 at 10:31 AM

“Why does Roman Polanski get a different set of rules? He is a convicted rapist who lured his victim a 13-year old girl (now in her 40s with three children) under the guise of taking pictures to help her career…”

Melissa, a lot of these guys in Hollywood are borderline pedophiles. Polanski just got caught. Why do you think all these young actresses go off the deep end? Megan Fox talks about Michael Bay having her dance in bikini under a waterfall when she was 15. Jessica Alba’s agent was quoted saying the calls would flood in to her office every time (the then 15 year old) Jessica would dance with her friend at a Hollywood party. I’ve personally witnessed many 50 year old execs and their 18 year old prostitute/escorts. It’s all a matter of degree…

Of course they support him.

Ci September 29, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Thanks for writing this Melissa. I agree completely. The guy is a convicted rapist of a CHILD, and I guarantee that if he had been just an average Joe on the run from justice for 30 years, people would have applauded his arrest.

If he is released simply because he is “Roman Polanski”, I would regard it as a legal and political scandal. That petition really irks me, especially the fact that there are so many great film-makers on there defending him.

I really like some of Polanski’s films, and I truly feel for the tragedy he suffered regarding his wife and unborn child, but that doesn’t change what he did. He should have taken his punishment back when he was convicted, he would have been out of jail many years ago.

LFleming September 29, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Thank-you Melissa for this spot-on article. Artist – Rapist – two separate issues. I wonder how would any of the petitioners feel if the 13 yr old was their child???? I suspect the vibe would be different and not so forgivng.

Elizabeth September 29, 2009 at 2:56 PM

There was a good article in Salon this morning called “Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child” in case the issue needed to be clarified, and, judging by the number of people on that petition, it apparently DOES need to be clarified.

Ann September 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM

Polanski has a history of underage girls he took advantage of using his power and status in the film industry. That wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it wasn’t the last, it was just the only time he really got caught. I’m appalled that so many “artists” would sign a petition in support of him. Woody Allen is a no brainer, right? Sure, he’s a great film maker but a disgusting man. I know most men signing the petition support and participate in the exploitation of young women in the film industry. I’d like to know why women are so eager to jump on the bandwagon. I know many actresses too readily submit to male authority and don’t question it, and don’t want to be seen as “man hating feminists”, but COME ON, ladies!

sally September 29, 2009 at 3:50 PM

It is time to call out those that signed the petition as collaborators. Unbelievable. You know, it’s not the case that justice is served when the victim says “she’s over it.” If victims could assign the justice, that were the case, then there would be a whole lot of inmates flogged every day of their life. It’s not all about the moment of the crime, it’s justice and deterance. Just because you’re a “nobody,” “too young,” “less accomplished and valuable” some guy doesn’t get the right to treat your drugged body like an ashtray to get off. It is completely shameful that people would sign a petition to prevent him from having the ego-busting scene of having to SUBMIT to a judge. The arrogance that this man is too big to fail, too big to SUBMIT is ironic since he took the ability to resist away from a girl. Every single person who signed that petition is a collaborator to this.

Brooke September 29, 2009 at 4:25 PM

It saddens me that my voice is not loud or well-known enough to actually make an impact on some of these artists I formerly admired.

Wes Anderson, despicable.

Tilda Swanson, shameful.

Diane von Furstenberg, giving ALL your clothes to Goodwill.

Monica Bellucci, you were in the frickin movie Irréversible
for God’s sake.

Whoopi – WTF???!!!???

The rest of you are just powerless French kiss-asses.


bruce nahin September 29, 2009 at 4:39 PM

The same people who support Polanski are the ones who cry out for” Social Justice” and say that poor people dont get justice- that all the breaks go to the rich, are seeking priviledge for a rich man who raped a 13 yr old girl and gave her drugs to boot- ivory tower liberals and hypocrites

Kara M. September 29, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Woody Allen tops the list? The petition calls it “a morals case”, Mind boggling. Polanski is a brilliant director, but think about it, is there any other profession on earth where the most prominent members would sign a petition in support of a child rapist?

Belinda Gomez September 29, 2009 at 4:51 PM

If this was Mel Gibson, there’s be a lynch mob in Malibu right now.

Jan September 29, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Didn’t he do time in jail before the sentencing? Why aren’t we listening to the victim of this, she stated in the media she wants to move on already, but after 30 years she is still hounded to relive it. Why invite a 76 year old criminal back into our neighborhood when in five years he’ll die of old age?

Ann September 29, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Here’s one prominent voice NOT in support of Polanski:

“Still, one film director thinks Polanski needs to face justice: Luc Besson said, “This is a man who I love a lot and know a little bit. Our daughters are good friends. But there is one justice, and that should be the same for everyone. I will let justice happen… I don’t have any opinion on this, but I have a daughter, 13 years old. And if she was violated, nothing would be the same, even 30 years later.”

Jennifer Lindsey Wildflower September 29, 2009 at 8:33 PM

Very huge props to Luc Besson. He is the true artist, the true empath here. His heart is for the powerless and vulnerable, and he speaks out accordingly. He shows his good character by asserting his love for Polanski and yet knowing that doesn’t exempt a person from consequences.

It’s wonderful the former victim has moved on, but her stance does nothing to deter (at least rich and famous) rapists, nor does it help rape victims.
We are unsafe when some people are above the law.

Pinecones September 29, 2009 at 11:41 PM

What I find really strange is that Wes Anderson signed this petition and he has a CHILDREN’S MOVIE coming out in a few weeks? WTF indeed!

sara lee September 30, 2009 at 2:54 AM

What is so interesting about Besson is that he was with Milla when she was young model (around 16 or maybe 14). He is known for loving really young girls. Polanski has made some great works but that should not deter away from his past actions or drugging and raping a young girl. All these “polanski apologists” should be ashamed, but like what was worded before, they are so used to it being in world that reguarly exploits women and girls like its a mandatory routine. Great post Melissa and I wish I could hear more from other fem blogs on this topics.

oh and Whoopi is a complete idiot. Did anyone see what she said on the view..shameful indeed.

Catherine September 30, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Where are the feminists of Hollywood? Where is Meryl Streep and other women who have self-identified as feminists? To be famous in Hollywood right now, and be silent on this, is to signal approval.

Step foward. Speak up. My god are only the rape apologists going to talk?

Rhea September 30, 2009 at 9:52 AM

If I hear one more time about what a great director he is!$)(&*!!! I don’t care about Picasso’s art if he burned his ‘lover’ with a lit cigarette. I don’t care about Peter Yarrow’s music if he raped a child. Polanski, the coward, and all of his ilk need to be brought down. Read Kate Harding’s piece on

rob September 30, 2009 at 10:29 AM

“I’m not doubting his talents as a director.”

Why do you put “artist” in quotes, then?

“He could have put this thing behind him decades ago.”

Well, almost. The judge on this case somehow messed it up. Please watch the documentary: “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (see:

Despite all that – yes he raped the girl, yes he fled the states to avoid prison.

Kelley September 30, 2009 at 11:50 AM

A Poem – What if

– The A&E industry didn’t close rank around RP
– No statements by French Cultural Ministers
– No petitions signed by an international Who’s Who
– No Debra Winger crying foul
– Or Whoopi (rape-rape)
– What would that look like
– What are these people afraid of
– By not supporting him
– Never being invited for Apres Ski ever again
– Or partying with him in Cannes
– Not appearing in any of his future productions
– Getting no love from Roman

What If

Michelle September 30, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Sharon Tate’s sister is quoted at the Huffington Post this morning as calling Polanski a good guy and that the sex was consensual. A 13 year old little girl consented to getting drunk and having sex with an adult?????

What the…? It’s rape.

And he needs to have his day in court. If the result is the book is closed, as the victim has requested, so be it, but we all, as average people living under the law, need to see that the law applies to all people. He needs to go to court.

Kelley September 30, 2009 at 1:19 PM

***News Flash***

France is dropping its public support for Polanski. See BBC website

Karen September 30, 2009 at 1:22 PM

This whole case is saddening. A much-needed post!

Level Best September 30, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Thanks for calling this crime out for what it is. Polanski made one of my favorite films, but talent, even “greatness” does not mean someone is a good or safe person.

Chris L. September 30, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Where are the Hollywood feminists, indeed? I’m also shocked at Whoopi,though mostly because of her willingness to speak without facts. She, like me, is old enough to know better. But maybe it should take a younger actress than that, to stand up for the rights of the 13-year-old girl even when her 45-year-old self can’t. Eliza Dushku, maybe?

Kelley September 30, 2009 at 9:08 PM
megapotamus October 1, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Indeed, this is a terrible state of affairs. Whatever could have made Polanski think that we would all just MoveOn from his deeds of yesteryear? Hmmm? Whatever could it be? I just couldn’t tell, could it be…. CLINTON!!!

If you google up “Where is” the Left, Hollywood, feminists etc and set the dates up for the Clinton Years you will find that this was the sad, squealing lament of those who thought Juanita Broaderick, raped by Clinton years ago, should have her day in media now even though she never pursued a day in court then. What was the response from Democrats, Leftists, Hollywoodies etc? Yawns? Oh man! She would WISH for yawns! No, she was attacked, reviled and insulted. Not insulted nearly so much as Paula Jones it must be said. After all, Ms Jones was merely summoned by Governor Clinton, her boss, and instructed to felate his exposed penis. THAT bitch had it comin’!

As nauseating as Polanski is, he is at least no hypocrite; no situtional moralist he. He likes to fuck little girls and what’s wrong with that? To hear from the great enablers of the “Great President TM” in his depredations is truly horrifying. Can anyone explain why Polanski should be hanged while Clinton should be exonerated? It should be obvious but perhaps it should be said, you can’t use any Whoopi-isms or Wngeroids, else the whole enterprise comes acropper. Let’s hear it; how can anyone justify Clinton without freeing Polanski? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?

Melissa Silverstein October 1, 2009 at 12:06 PM

No more Clinton comments! This is not about Clinton. This is not the site for that. Get back on topic or I will delete them.


megapotamus October 1, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Does being a “President” trump being a rapist?” Is that on topic? Or Does being a doctor trump being a rapist? Or does being a college professor trump being a rapist? You see, if the answer to the first is Yes then the plausible answer to the rest is also yes. Delete the comment if you like. You cannot delete the question. Why not post on that topic and then we will all be on the same page? I yearn to learn.

Your Friend

Alexandra October 1, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Just wanted to clarify one thing. Luc Besson partnered with Milla during the filming of the Fifth Element and she was 22 years old. He dated Maïwenn Le Besco from 1992-1997. She was 17 when they started to date. I don’t believe he suffers from the same predilection as Roman Polanski.

Thomai in L.A. (it rhymes) October 3, 2009 at 11:30 PM

Polanski is a pedaphile who was convicted of rape and escaped sentencing. He is a fugitive of the law until he is brought in and sentenced. period.
I don’t care if he was the towns most cherished baker, my favorite cab driver, a school teacher or a director-
He was convicted of rape. End of story.

Dawn October 4, 2009 at 9:05 PM

I think everyone who has watched the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, and bases their opinion of this case on that film, really needs to read this article:

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

The idea that Roman Polanski was done in by an unscrupulous judge is a myth…Ever since he fled Los Angeles for Europe, Roman Polanski and his defenders have been putting out a story: he had to run because Judge Laurence Rittenband, after having promised not to impose any jail time past a 42-day psychiatric evaluation for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, had changed his mind and intended send him to state prison. It’s a myth.
How do I know this? From Roman Polanski.

“What is the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse?” asked the prosecutor.

“It’s one to fifteen – twenty years in State Prison,” responded Polanski.

First, Gunson read out the litany of charges Polanski initially faced:

“Mr. Polanski, you are charged in Information A-334139 with the crimes of Furnishing Drugs to a Minor, Lewd or Lascivious Acts upon a Child under 14 year of Age, Unlawful Sexual Intercourse, Rape by Use of Drugs, Perversion, and Sodomy, all felonies committed on or about March 10th, 1977.”

The single crime Polanski pled guilty to, unlawful sexual intercourse, was the lightest of the charges filed against him. But even so, because the victim was so young, the judge had the power to require Polanski to register as a sex offender, something Gunson was quick to remind the director.

“Mr. Polanski, because this offense involved a girl under the age of 14, it is mandatory that MDSO proceedings be instituted. MDSO means Mentally Disordered Sex Offender. If you are found to be an MDSO, you would have to register that fact with the law enforcement officer of the community in which you resided.”

Gunson then went on to ask: “….on March 10, 1977, the day you had sexual intercourse with the complaining witness, how old did you believe her to be?”

Polanski conferred with his lawyer and then answered: “She was 13.”

Gunson: “Did you understand that she was 13 on March 10, 1977, when you had sexual intercourse with her?”
Again, Polanski conferred with his lawyer, then answered: “Yes.”

So Polanski knew he faced the possibility of becoming a registered sex offender and admitted in open court that he was subject to that penalty because he knowingly had sexual contact with a girl who was 13 years old.
He also knew the sentence Polanski he was facing: “What is the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse?” asked Gunson.

“It’s one to fifteen—twenty years in State Prison,” responded Polanski.

“Do you understand it is also possible that you could be placed on probation, with or without being required to serve up to one year in the County Jail?” the prosecutor next asked

“Yes,” responded Polanski.

hem April 19, 2011 at 10:19 PM

People please!!! a crime is a crime no matter what!!!!

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damion September 10, 2014 at 1:12 AM

Polanski left the country to avoid arrest and for many decades continued to make movies and it was business as usual for him. Now he has wondered in to a country that is not ok to be a wanted fellon and he was arrested. Is anyone really that shocked about this petition from some of the Hollywood crowd. Obviously they feel that because of who he is he should skate on this rape conviction. So why is he not being turned over to the U.S. authorities or is that in the works.

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