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September 30, 2009
Column #1,466
Should Celebrity Crimes Go Unpunished?
By Mike McManus

Should celebrities be allowed to commit crimes without paying a penalty?

That question lies at the center of crimes by two Hollywood celebrities and pals of the 1970's - Academy Award-winner Director Roman Polanski and John Phillips, Papa John, the lead singer of The Mamas & the Papas.

The facts about Polanski are not in dispute.  According to testimony by Samantha Geimer, 13, given to a Grand Jury in March, 1977, quietly unsealed four months ago, she first posed topless for photos that the director said were for "French Vogue." 

       Then he plied her with champagne and Quaaludes at the home of Jack Nicholson, who was not present, and directed her to "Take off your underwear" and enter the Jacuzzi.  He photographed her nude.  Polanski, then 43, took off his clothes and entered the tub.

       The girl got out, saying "I have to go home." He came inside, sat beside her and kissed her as she pled, "No. Go away."  He sodomized her and asked Samatha if she were "on the pill."  When she said, "No," he asked, "When was your last period?"  Then he had intercourse and anal sex with her. She kept saying, "No. Stop."  

       However, she had so many glasses of champagne plus the Quaalude, she told the Grand Jury, "I can barely remember anything that happened." 

       The sex clearly was not consensual.  More important, she was only 13 years old - a minor which makes his actions a crime called "statutory rape."  In fact, the four-hour event was a classic seduction by a pedophile.

       Indicted on various sex charges, Polanski agreed to a plea deal, in which he admitted having unlawful sex with a minor that he thought would spare him prison time beyond the 42 days he spent in jail during a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.  However, when a Superior Court judge indicated he would reject the plea bargain and would sentence him to prison, the director fled the country and has lived in France for 32 years.

       The director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown," also directed a 2002 film, "The Pianist" which won an Oscar.

       Los Angeles prosecutors have been ineptly trying to get Polanski extradited to face criminal charges for years.  When the LA District Attorney heard that he was going to the Zurich Film Festival to receive an award, he asked the U.S. Justice Department to request that Switzerland arrest him, for possible extradition to face charges. The 76-year-old is in a Swiss jail.

       However, his surprise arrest has sparked indignation in Hollywood. Film Mogul Harvey Weinstein said, "We're calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation." However, he has a conflict of interest, having bought distribution rights to the HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."

        A petition was signed by 100 film celebrities such as Oscar winning directors Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, stating, "We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski."

       Woody Allen is incensed?  When he lived with Mia Farrow, he was the "stepfather" of Korean-born Soon-Yi, who had been adopted by Farrow and Andre Previn.  Though he was 35 years older than she, he began having sex with her as a teenager and married her in 1997.

       In 1997 the victim of Polanski, Samatha Geimer emerged from anonymity to say that she did not want the film director jailed if he returned to the United States.  "I am sure that he now understands why his actions were inappropriate and damaging to me."  However, those comments were bought with a substantial civil settlement by Polanski.

       Last week Mackenzie Phillips, daughter of Papa John Phillips, published a memoir, "High On Arrival," which states that she and her father had an incestuous relationship for ten years that began when she was 18 in 1979, after her dad raped her while they were both under the influence of heavy narcotics on the eve of her first marriage! Though she starred in "American Graffiti" at age 13 and appeared as a teen in a sitcom, "On Day At A Time," she was fired for drug abuse, and done little since.

       John Phillips is dead, and can't be prosecuted for ruining his daughter's life.

       Roman Polanski, however, ought to be prosecuted.  Why?

       As Mackenzie said of her father, "My dad was not a man with boundaries." 

       If Polanski is imprisoned for years, fewer celebrities will have sex with minors. Polanski says the 42 days he served "seems like a just punishment for raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old, don't you think?" NO.

       More important, stepfathers, tens of thousands of whom molested stepdaughters - will see that they are at risk.

       Criminals must be prosecuted if crime is to be reduced.
 
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