Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roman Polanski As Described By Grand Jury Testimony

The Smoking Gun discusses the grand jury transcripts which were unsealed prior to Roman Polanski winning an Oscar for the movie The Pianist, these transcripts describe actions taken in 1977 when non-stranger rape was frequently ignored.

This is highly relevant since Polanski was arrested in Switzerland and is now facing extradition to the US which for some is viewed as the first step to seeing him get away with his crime and get away with fleeing justice before he was sentenced.

The teenager's troubling--and contemporaneous--account of her abuse at Polanski's hands begins with her posing twice for topless photos that the director said were for French Vogue.
This is child porn and if this was where the crime stopped this would, under current laws, be child abuse and a serious felony. But this isn't where Roman Polanski's crime stopped. Not included in this quote but included in the transcript is that he gave a minor alcohol soon after entering Jack Nicholson's house on the second photo shoot, an action which was and is a crime and which was witnessed by a third party.

He even used the glass of champagne as a prop in photos he took which gave that action an innocent overtone. He not only had her hold the glass but he had her drink while being photographed. This strikes me as highly deceptive. He could easily have her drink a soft drink of similar coloring if his only purpose was the one he claimed.

By using his authority as someone taking photos for a specific legitimate purpose it makes sense that a child would do as she was told by someone who seemed interested in doing nothing more than he'd gotten permission to do. She wouldn't know when the pictures being taken of her weren't for French Vogue. Her perception of danger would be reduced significantly under the influence of alcohol. She was quite literally, impaired.

This is called misusing authority. Writing that feels patronizing, but too many people refuse to understand this concept which plays out in the actions described during grand jury testimony.

One such person is Joan Z. Shore, co-founder, Women Overseas for Equality (Belgium), who wrote on Huffington Post in an article titled Polanski's Arrest: Shame on the Swiss:

But there is more to this story. The 13-year old model "seduced" by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It's probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence.

I met Polanski shortly after he fled America and was filming Tess in Normandy. I was working in the CBS News bureau in Paris, and I accompanied Mike Wallace for a Sixty Minutes interview with Polanski on the set. Mike thought he would be meeting the devil incarnate, but was utterly charmed by Roman's sobriety and intelligence.

Ms. Shore has some basic facts wrong in her portrayal of Polanski as the hapless victim. Several of which are easily verifiable.

If Polanski told people the age of consent was 14 and that he'd been promised a specific sentence, he deliberately lied which undermines her description of him and undermines everything he said to make himself sound like the victim which can not be instantly proven. Polanski had been accused of rape, not statutory rape so the victim's age is only relevant to what lesser charge Polanski pled guilty to.

Calling what Polanski did a seduction which happened after a mother thrust her daughter at Polanski shows why I need to write what should be obvious to everybody. The impression Polanski had on Ms. Shore and on Mike Wallace explains why a mother would trust him to be alone with her 13-year-old daughter and why that daughter would trust him when he deserved no trust. This idea that you can tell who is guilty of rape, or capable of rape, by their general manner is nonsense. Many heinous criminals can charm journalists with their sobriety and intelligence. It is journalistic malpractice to assume this is proof of their innocence.

Back to the transcripts which Ms. Shore should have read or needs to read again without her clear bias, I'm reminded of the story about how you can boil a live frog if you raise the temperature of the water slowly enough so that the frog doesn't realize it is being boiled alive. Instead of trying to boil a frog, Roman Polanski seemed to be figuratively trying to boil a 13-year-old girl.

Q: What happened after he showed you the jacuzzi?

A: He said, "I want to take some pictures of you in this." [Q&As about logistics including a call to her mother about the photo shoot continuing]

Q: After talking to your mother on the telephone, what happened?

A: We went out and I got in the jacuzzi.

Q: So you went outside --

A: No, wait. We went into the bathroom before and he took this little yellow thing. I don't know what it was. it was some kind of container. And he had -- he walked in before me. When I walked in he had the container. And he had a pill broken into three parts. And he said, "Is this a quaalude?" And I went, "Yes." And he says, "Oh, do you think I will be able to drive if I take it?"

And I said, "I don't know," you know. He says, "Well, should I take it?" I went, "I don't know." He goes, "Well, I guess I will," and he took it. And he says, "Do you want part?" And I went, "No."

And he says -- oh, at that time I went, "Okay," because -- I don't know.

The transcript seems to be missing quotation marks around "Oh," which is a significant error since that single word can convey so much meaning so that her, "Okay" is compliance not consent.

This behavior by Polanski shows clear forethought and manipulation. After giving her an unknown quantity of champagne, he made her call her mother and then he makes her responsible for his taking part of a quaalude. Since he knew what drug he had, his question to her about whether she recognized the drug seems to be his way of rationalizing the actions he had planned. He might tell himself that he wouldn't continue if this were an "innocent" 13-year-old girl since that would make him a real rapist.

If he were genuinely concerned about his ability to drive he would have introduced this drug into their conversation prior to having her call her mother. His quickly escalating actions after the call to her mother were like a recognition that the water was boiling around her and she hadn't jumped. But just in case, he introduced another substance which would further impair her and her ability to flee.

Then he got her into the hot tub after ordering her to take off everything she was still wearing. He took some pictures of her, but soon his pretense of a photo shot was abandoned allegedly because there wasn't enough light -- which he would have been aware of prior to having her call her mother to extend the photo shoot. So he clearly and plainly lied to this girl and indirectly to her mother as well.

For anyone who has read the official warnings at public hot tubs you will know that drinking alcohol magnifies the effect of the hot water and increases the risk of drowning. So the hot tub served as further impairment.

For too many people, her lack of recognition of how she was being manipulated will be incorrectly seen as evidence of her consent. Because of the call to her mother and because she didn't flee when told he was going to get in the hot tub with her, these people are likely to say she could have gotten away if she really wanted to.

But people, children especially, won't flee danger which is beyond their understanding. They've been taught to obey adults who have been given even temporary authority over them and for years have experienced not fully understanding why they are told to do something. An adult in a position of authority tells them to jump and they jump. This training in compliance doesn't magically disappear when a girl reaches her teens. And when Roman Polanski added impairment from alcohol, part of a quaalude and the heat of a hot tub to this already vulnerable dynamic, the chances of a passive response from someone who isn't consenting rises significantly.

Yet when she responded to his entering the hot tub by moving away from him he didn't respect her actions.

Q: What happened then?

A: He goes, "Come down here." And I said, "No, No, I got to get out."

And he goes, "No, Come down here."

That statement from Polanski is an order from an adult in a position of authority to a child.

And then I said that I had asthma and that I couldn't -- I had to get out because of the warm air and the cold air or something like that.
After complying with his demand that she move closer to him, she got out and asked to be taken home so she could take her medicine and Roman Polanski refused her request. The boiling frog strategy had failed, but he didn't stop. This shows premeditation and absolutely contradicts all those who claim this was only statutory rape and that he couldn't have meant to commit sexual assault.

This girl's use of falsely claiming to suffer from asthma shows that she felt like he had authority over her and only an acute physical emergency would give her reason to disobey his instructions. She'd been like the unaware frog but now she was jumping and seeking escape.

He asked her if she was okay and when she said, "No," it simply didn't matter to him.

She was afraid of him by this point but still effectively under his control. Maybe her fear was a turn on because at this point she is clearly not a participant, eager or otherwise. Or maybe he viewed the amount of time he'd spent taking photographs of her as too much investment to lose without getting what he really wanted from her. I won't detail the repeated acts of sexual violence she describes, but the transcript shows a clear disregard for this girl's humanity and basic rights as a human being.

For those who don't understand why real rape victims often don't physically struggle, remember this girl had been deliberately isolated and impaired. Which explains this response of what she did prior to being vaginally raped:

But I wasn't fighting really because I, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go.

The transcript also describes Roman Polanski demanding to know, mid-rape, if she was on birth control and when she said no, he demanded to know when she'd had her last period. Apparently, because Polanski was concerned about pregnancy he switched to anally raping her.

What a gem of man. What heartless people could possibly want to see him spend more than 45 days in jail for this crime? Maybe those heartless people who consider crimes from the perspective of what they do to the victims rather than limiting the perspective to that of the criminals.

Mid-rape a woman knocked on the closed bedroom door and those who have no understanding of non-stranger rape might assume this girl would scream if she were in genuine distress, but that assumption is dangerously wrong. In that circumstance fear can keep someone trapped in silence. Fear isn't always rational and those who expect it to be rational are lucky to not understand this firsthand. The girl got up while he was distracted and was trying to leave when he stopped her and resumed the sexual assault until he climaxed.

The description of what I believe to be shock after the sexual assault is familiar. I remember my shock which might have appeared to others to be simply coolness or moodiness. Some rapists may even comfort themselves when they see this shock since it allows them to believe the lie that what they did caused no trauma when they are seeing a direct after effect of severe trauma.

In a separate article on the Smoking Gun site, that woman is identified.

Investigators also interviewed actress Angelica Huston, who was present in Nicholson's home while Polanski was sequestered in a bedroom with the child. Huston said the teenager "didn't appear to be distressed," adding that "she seemed sullen, which I thought was a little rude."

The shock after being raped could easily be described as being sullen. Someone in this state wouldn't have the capacity to interact with proper politeness which could also be seen as rudeness. So this testimony supports the victim's testimony even if Ms. Huston doesn't believe what happened was a non-statutory sexual assault. Not looking scared after rape only violates Ms. Huston's expectations about what real victims look like not the reality of non-stranger rape. Men don't need to be "bad men" to commit sexual assault, once or repeatedly.

Only Roman Polanski saw what came after that initial shock, he saw her crying in his car as she sat waiting for the only escape she viewed as open to her. Even then he made her wait while he went back inside Jack Nicholson's house to speak to the woman. I'm sure he crafted a careful fiction. Maybe he even apologized for the girl's abrupt behavior.

I can't find the remainder of the grand jury transcript on the Smoking Gun site which covers events beginning with him driving her home. What I did find in my search was an article which links to the transcript pages I read which uses the terms "sex" and "underage sex escapades" which are pathetic descriptions of sex crimes even if Polanski's actions do disgust the article writer.

After reading the transcript I believe Roman Polanski understood the concept of placing a frog in pot of lukewarm water and then incrementally raising the heat so that even when the frog is being boiled to death it won't jump to safety.

As a Holocaust survivor and as a man whose wife, Sharon Tate, and unborn child were brutally murdered by Charles Manson followers, Polanski should understand the necessity of accountability. Yet so many people say, "Never again" and only mean it selectively. When it comes to non-stranger rape too many people might as well say, "Whatever, man."

This "Whatever, man," attitude explains why a man so many people see as completely admirable could rationalize committing rape against a 13-year-old child. If Polanski is genuinely remorseful for his actions then he needs to help stop the repeated cycle of "Whatever, man."

Instead his actions related to this case demonstrate total selfishness. Others should be accountable for their crimes but not him.

In his plea agreement admitting guilt to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse, all Roman Polanski admitted to is having sex with his victim when he knew she was only 13 while the age of consent was 18. The plea deal was offered to spare his sexual assault victim the trauma of both the trial and the media which would cover the trial. By fleeing, he guaranteed that her trauma would be raised anew everytime he made the national or international news.

Since so many non-stranger rapes were ignored by the police in the 1970s and earlier, having the police actually take this case seriously may have felt like an injustice to Roman Polanski when the injustice really occurred each time a girl or woman's report of rape was ignored or she was treated like the only criminal for trying to ruin a good man's life.

However, Roman Polanski admitted in his guilty plea that he understood that he was pleading guilty to a felony.

Mr. Gunson: What is the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse?

The Defendant: It's one to Fifteen -- twenty years in State Prison.

The questions are laid out so the defendant has to know the consequences of his guilty plea. That includes understanding that the sentence he was scheduled to receive was not limited in any way to less than the maximum sentence for this charge. The only promise was to dismiss all other charges against Polanski who caused his victim repeated harm through his decision to flee the country before his sentencing and his decision to try and have his guilty plea tossed out.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse of models is something which is still happening, and Anand Jon Alexander who was convicted of multiple rapes may also feel like an injustice was done to him since so many others also rape aspiring models and get away with it with the public support of over 100 in film industry.

If Roman Polanski should be excused for committing a sex crime against an aspiring model, why not excuse Anand Jon and why not excuse Oscar winning songwriter Joseph Brooks who has been accused of raping aspiring actresses? All of them have done good work professionally and their victims agreed to be alone with them, right? These aren't men who attack strangers.

If we follow this line of thinking then those demanding Roman Polanski's freedom also need to demand the immediate release of music producer Phil Spector and ignore his murder conviction. If something besides the evidence nullifies the crime then this must be as true in murder cases as it is in rape cases.

Update (10/1): At the Daily Beast, Former prosecutor, Marcia Clark, reviews the transcript from the plea agreement which contradicts claims by Polanski's defense team that the judge promised only probation and a Sept. 19, 1977 court hearing after a court ordered assessment which includes:

[Dalton, Polanski's attorney said:] "This particular offense doesn't have the connotation of rape. It's not even an offense, a criminal offense, in about 13 of our states and in many places of the world… this is a crime that's been committed by policemen; it's been committed by probation officers assigned to counsel girls at a detention school; it's a crime that's been committed by people that have a far higher trust to their victims than did Roman Polanski… I feel he is a criminal only by accident; and that there are many complex social and psychological factors that were involved in this situational event which otherwise was a complete departure from his normal mode of conduct." [...]

[Prosecutor Gunson talking about 1 evaluation] "Doctor Davis seems to misunderstand the underlying circumstances, when he indicates that the offense occurred as an isolated instance of transient poor judgment and loss of normal inhibitions, in circumstances of intimacy and collaboration in creative work; and with some coincidental alcohol and drug intoxication. He also indicates that the sexual activities occurred naturally and mutually."

"From the testimony at the Grand Jury and from the Grand Jury transcript, we know that not to be true. We know from the probation report that—from letters sent in that Mr. Polanski is of very high intelligence. One friend indicates that Mr. Polanski is almost a teetotaler. And we also have information in the probation report that Mr. Polanski has received a prescription for 150 milligram quaalude, for jet fatigue in his travels throughout the world. However, the evidence indicates that if Mr. Polanski is of high intelligence, and if he is next to a teetotaler, and if he was not a user of drugs, then why do we have a—the situation that we have in this case?"

This push back by the defense attorney combined with falsehoods being spread about the victim's mother who according to grand jury testimony asked to accompany her daughter on the photo shoot and was rebuffed by Polanski are what caused the original recommendation that Polanski not be sentenced to jail to no longer be an appropriate sentence.

The defense's statement contradicts itself. He claimed what happened occurred "naturally and mutually" while similtaneously claiming other men have similarly abused their position of authority over girls and they aren't being prosecuted. If what happened was genuinely mutual there would be no abuse of authority.

A letter of support from Polanski's friend actually provided additional evidence that there was nothing recreational about Polaski's decision to introduce champagne and quaaludes into a professional photo shoot.

Polanski was, through his attorney, refusing to admit his guilt and instead was claiming that he had done absolutely nothing wrong and worse was even at this point positioning himself as the only victim. He was in effect calling his victim and her mother liars. This violated the list of what the victim and her family asked for in their support of the plea agreement in a letter from their attorney.

The bottom line is that it wasn't the judge who violated the terms of the plea agreement as Polanski's supporters and much of the media allege but Polanski himself who recklessly disregarded it. Then they claim to be shocked when that disregard had legal consequences.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:10 AM   3 comments links to this post


At September 30, 2009 12:01 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Thank you Marcella for writing a very clear and easily understood dissection of sexual predator Polanski. Yes indeed male sexual predators are commonly charming, respectable and able to lull their female victims and other individuals into believing he the predator is trustworthy.

Polanski's actions clearly prove he knew precisely what he was doing and deliberately sought to deflect accountability away from himself and on to the 13 year old girl and her mother.

Male sexual predators are very clever and skilful at making it appear the victim is 'responsible for her rape' whereas accountability must always lie with the male rapist.

Polanski was concerned with one thing only - his sexual gratification and thesexual degradation of this young girl. Like so many predators Polanski was clearly able to compartmentalise his previous history and experiences because this young girl in his view was a suitable target for his sexual gratification.

If Polanski should not be extradicted then the other 'celebrity males' convicted of various sexual crimes and one of murder should also be released. After all these men are talented artists are they not?

None of these male convicted criminals attacked a stranger did they? But missing from the claims is precisely how Polanski manipulated, abused his position of trust, recorded child pornography and attempted to make the 13 year old girl accountable for his sexual crimes against her.

Let's hope Polanski is extradicted and is given a suitable prison sentence for his crimes against the 13 year old girl.

At September 30, 2009 1:33 PM, Blogger The Menstruator said...

This is a really great piece you've written here. It should be in print for one's hands to feel. I think you understand it better than the "press" and maybe even the asshole rapist himself.
Thank you. This is important stuff you are writing about.

At September 30, 2009 2:40 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


I appreciate your kind words. I understand this premeditated dynamic because I had it successfully used against me.


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