Chapter 7. Latest Developments

In the decades elapsing since that night in February 1978, Polanski never set foot to the USA, but it is not a secret that he traveled all over Europe, making movies and attending events. It seemed some status-quo was achieved. 

The first signs of fuss after a 20-year-long lull started when Cooley was elected the Los Angeles County District Attorney; in a couple of years The Pianist was made and nominated for multiple Oscars. I may later elaborate on Cooley’s transgressions, but I think you can look him up yourself (enough interesting information has been around during the CA AG campaign he lost); the same goes for the political games always revolving around Oscar. Anyway, that was the time of the first attempts at smearing Polanski’s name, with some half-hearted campaign (nothing to compare to the latest one, of which we’ll speak in the last chapter) and subsequent attempts to extradite Polanski from a number of countries. With Cooley’s ambitions, he couldn’t pass by such a promising case (same old Rittenband-fashion story again). 

Did you see Polanski’s Interpol file, by the way? It says he is accused of “crimes against children”. I am truly grateful that even faced with such horror, the authorities of the countries Cooley addressed didn’t flinch to look into the matter. And see, of course, that there were no “children” in the case and “crimes” (in the plural) consisted of one instance of intercourse; thus Cooley’s attempts were rejected. But the line is revealing indeed: they always have to exaggerate and lie. Let it sound like child abuse, child rape, or better still murder; this is tangible and calculated to produce the desired effect, not some plain bland “intercourse” that wouldn’t look half as alluring. (As if guided by some vague feeling that if they exaggerate something in one place, they must reduce something in another to balance things, under “languages” they modestly put, “English”. Pathetic. English is his fourth language, and altogether he speaks at least 6. I am only half-joking: it really seems to me an inadequate Freudian attempt at balancing lies.)

Luckily, this sordid piece of inanity was disregarded.

Then things started happening fast.

In 2008, Marina Zenovich made that documentary I kept quoting here. While refraining from the analysis of the case itself, the documentary concentrated on the judicial misconduct.

After it was released, it could hardly be ignored: the eccentricities of American judicial system stink to high heaven. Very well; the DA’s office was left with three options.

The first was to deny everything and to press charges against Zenovich, accusing her of libel. That was obviously impossible for the simple reason that she doesn’t put words into anyone’s mouth: the participants are shown speaking in their own words and their own voices; all of them except Rittenband are still alive and ready to confirm what they said.

The second was to admit the wrongdoing, apologize, and agree on starting again, at the point where the case, as I indicated, could be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Polanski would have been guaranteed what he had been promised, he would have come to the US, sentenced to the time served, and gone back to Europe or to any other place of his choice. It could have been done then, because the media and public opinion were not yet conditioned as they are now. During all those decades, there have been attempts in the US media to view the case unbiasedly (like the 1994 Diane Sawyer interview for Turning Point) and call a spade a spade: unlawful intercourse. There was no mass hysteria, nobody was throwing tantrums, yelling “pedophile! Child rapist!” and calling for Polanski to be drawn and quartered.

All this came later, because the DA’s office chose the third option, that can be summarized as follows: what misconduct do you DARE to talk about when we have to do with such a HORRIBLE, HEINOUS, UNHEARD-OF CRIME OF THE CENTURY.

This is called adding insult to injury, and would have been amusing if didn’t come from people endowed with a position of power.

Everything that happened next is the logical result of this attitude: attempting to distract the public from their own wrongdoings, they paint Polanski the worst criminal ever, not hesitating to stoop to forgery, libeling, and distorting the facts.

A lot has been written about Swiss bank scandal, and many believe that Polanski’s arrest was a direct result thereof, many say that he was “sold out”; I won’t go into this now [may also be developed later]. Anyway, he was arrested in a country to which he was invited to a festival; moreover, a country where he had property and stayed a lot over those years. Researchers like Brenneman and Novalis say grave juridical blunders were committed, but I haven’t had the time to look into this myself so if you want to know, you can just look at their findings.

Anyway, Polanski was arrested and incarcerated. The media reports of the moment are smug and contented. No hysteria yet. Approximately along these lines: everything is under control, we have caught the most dangerous criminal of our time, the pitcher goes often to the well, soon he will at last answer for the crime of the century, nobody escapes American Law in general and Cooley in particular.

I hope you remember that Cooley was aiming for CA AG at the time.

Then the Swiss started behaving unpredictably. They didn’t buy the “crimes against children” nonsense and reminded the USA that the treaty between the US and Switzerland states that fugitives who would serve less than six months in jail are not subject to any extradition. The prosecuting DA Dave Walgren screamed child rape from the rooftops. The Swiss didn’t buy it, either: all they saw was unlawful sexual intercourse, time for which was – arguably - served. Polanski’s attorneys suggested that in order to turn “arguably” into “indubitably” the Swiss should look into Gunson’s sealed testimony since, to their knowledge, it contained proofs thereof. The Swiss got interested and inquired about the paper, without which they suspected the extradition request wasn’t complete, but didn’t contain crucial facts.

Mr. Hummel (lawyer for Polanski) then drilled into the prosecutor, David Walgren, for, he said, “misleading the Swiss” while under oath, by omitting crucial facts about the proposed Polanski sentence from an extradition request sent months ago. If Mr. Polanski were sentenced to less than six months, he might not even qualify for extradition.
That charge ignited Mr. Walgren, who complained that Mr. Hummel kept returning to the court with arguments that had already been rejected. He referred to Mr. Polanski with a litany of names, calling him “this criminal,” “this fugitive” and “this child rapist,” which drew a rebuke from Judge Espinoza. (New York Times March 16, 2011)

See same old story again? Cooley as understudy for Rittenband, and Walgren for Wells. One builds his career, the other just exercises his hysterical  hatred, using the same tricks as we’ve already seen done by Wells.  

The case didn’t look like it was going to be resolved soon, and Polanski was transferred from the jail to his house in Gstaad, on enormous, unprecedented bail, under house arrest and electronic surveillance.

That’s when the first real tantrums were thrown.

 INTERPOL media release
26 November 2009
Following the decision by a Swiss federal court to release Roman Polanski on bail, INTERPOL has issued a reminder to all 188 member countries that he also remains the subject of a valid Red Notice, or international wanted persons notice, issued at the request of US authorities.
The message, sent by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France also requests each of its National Central Bureaus (NCBs) to ensure that border control agencies are also advised of Polanski’s Red Notice status, which is a request for any country to identify or locate an individual with a view to their arrest and extradition.
 “Given Mr. Polanski’s history of international travel while defying a judicial order, a 4.5 million dollar bail and an electronic bracelet does not mean that law enforcement lets its global guard down,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.  “Mr. Polanski has given us more than 30 years of proof that he does not feel bound to respect any court decision with which he does not agree.”

Or did you think I was joking about the “crime of the century”? Absurdity is heaped upon absurdity; but it only gets worse from here on.

Polanski’s attorneys asked for him to be sentenced in absentia, and were refused.

Now, why, may I ask? County of Los Angeles Judge Espinoza stated in Court on January 22nd: “I don’t disagree that the intended sentence was the time Mr. Polanski already spent in a state prison (Chino) under psychiatric evaluation.” – why not give him this sentence and get it over with? What can explain this reluctance except a desire to have a big event and promote their careers at the expense of one man? Oh, I forgot, and revenge too; mustn’t discard this. And, of course, with the genie of “public opinion” (that of the most ignorant, baleful mob) out of the bottle, there was no way back to such a quiet solution. No, now they only had to escalate.

The time goes by, the media dogs are set loose and the real witch hunt starts: in all sources of information, as if by a miracle, the “unlawful sexual intercourse” turns into “child rape”. It is a very elegant sleight of hand. First, since Ms.Gailey was legally a minor, we can call her a “child”, which immediately creates an image of a prepubescent virgin. Next, we remember that “statutory rape” is a term used in some legal jurisdictions to describe sex where one participant is below the age required to legally consent. We emphasize the “rape” part and eradicate the “statutory” qualification (never really bothering to explain the difference to public). For those stubborn enough to insist that there is worlds of difference between “unlawful intercourse” and “rape”, and if not for that unfortunate misnomer nobody could legally drag this word in, a phrase is coined that will be chanted by mobs and used to drown our arguments in demagogy: rape is rape! The idiocy of the slogan explains why it has so eagerly been accepted by some; for me it serves an indicator of mental abilities of my opponent and his incapacity of logical reasoning. The other such phrase,  although seemingly innocent, is “end of story”, a figure of speech much liked by all Polanski condemners and used immediately after sputtering their usual lies: to prevent their opponents from looking into the details which paint the real picture of the case.

So, we hear that “he raped a child and fled, end of story”, and the word “pedophile” is heard more and more often; soon all hell breaks lose and we hear direct calls for lynching. 

But the time is running short! The Swiss want their document. French government, the Academy des Beaux-Arts, prominent artists, and all the people in the world who are not manipulated by the insane media are constantly petitioning, picketing, protesting against the idiotic action of the USA, whose methods Claude Lelouch called “des méthodes de la Gestapo”. Samantha Geimer petitions for the case to be dropped. Cooley’s electoral campaign is in full swing, which means unpleasant truths about him come up.

Cooley & Co must have become really desperate by that time, because their next move beats all logic and common sense.

Drumroll… Charlotte Lewis appears out of the conjurer’s hat. Say-hey-abracadabra.

Unfortunately for Cooley, too much is known about Lewis. The text of her 1999 News of The World interview can be found here, but I can’t deny myself the pleasure of analyzing it.

“I don’t how many men might have had sex with me for money. I was in a permanent haze. I was 14 and looking for excitement, yet I was so naive.” I will leave the “naïve” part to my reader’s judgment.

Then, one night, things turned out badly, she was afraid she might get kidnapped by some Arabs, “and smuggled out of the country to end up as a sex slave”. She became more careful after this, but only just. “Perhaps I should have realized what was going on, but I didn’t. I craved excitement and I liked men. And although I knew sex was illegal because I was under-age, I didn’t consider it a crime.” At the same time she was doing some modeling, at an agency called Bookings. “A model friend asked me if I’d ever thought of going into films. She turned out to be a friend of Roman Polanski, who was living in Paris. We bought a cheap rail and ferry ticket, went to Paris and met him.”

And now attention please. “I was fascinated by him, and I wanted to be his lover. He’d already cast me in his film Pirates, so it wasn’t like it was a casting-couch thing where you HAVE to sleep with someone to get the part. I wanted him probably more than he wanted me.”

She came to him, and stayed, and says they were lovers for six months. It is also explicitly stated in the interview that she was 17 when they first had sex. By the end of the pre-production they weren’t lovers any longer, then she met Warren Beatty on the set of Pirates, and “seduced” him (her own words). Anyway, after Pirates she wasn’t an obscure little model – she was a star in a Polanski movie, which means a lot. He took her to Cannes festival, she was noticed, she was launched. As a result, she was invited to Hollywood to star in The Golden Child with Eddie Murphy as her partner. She lists a lot of men as her subsequent lovers, such as Charlie Sheen, Mickey Rourke, Dodi Fayed, Mick Jagger and Jim Carrey; she also confesses to a deplorable drug habit (dating back to her “wild years” of teenagerhood) which eventually ruined her career. “Sure cocaine, sure Ecstasy, and of course marijuana. Then one day I simply realized I had to sort myself out, deal with my eating disorder, quit the drugs, stop smoking.” She never again did anything memorable in movies, though.

So far, so good. A woman likes men, and “seduces” whomever she sees fit. Nothing particularly wrong about this, not even if she uses some as stepping-stones for her career; if she claims “I was fascinated by him, and I wanted to be his lover”, we can’t accuse her of exchanging sex for a part in a movie. It is confirmed in an earlier, 1986, interview, where she says of Polanski, “I found him very attractive, I'd love to have had a romantic relationship with him and a physical one. You can't help falling in love with him. But he didn't want me that way." Apparently, she refers to his unwillingness to renew their relationship during the shooting of Pirates.

And lo! In May 2010! Sorry guys, I can’t help feeling some – rather hypocritical, I admit! – pity for Cooley and Walgren who didn’t have anything else and had to recur to this pathetic trick; I confess my pity borders on gloating when I think how deep they buried themselves in shit.

Who else appears but Charlotte Lewis, unearthed by who else but Walgren, and represented by who else but Gloria Allred (read up on her if you don’t know). And she makes a statement for press. She reads it without looking up from the script, and Allred is hovering over her, monitoring her progress, her eyes glued to the same paper.

"Mr. Polanski knew I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris." Wait, wait! Wasn’t she 17 as she said in 1999? And what’s wrong with being 16 if the age of consent in France, where the alleged events took place, is 15? Especially when the 16-year-old in question lost count of men she slept with for money since the tender age of 14? “Forced himself”? And who said she was fascinated and wanted to be his lover? Did she hope people have such short memories?

"I found him disgusting." 2010
I found him very attractive.” 1986

He just said very coldly, ‘if you’re not a big enough girl to have sex with me, you’re not big enough to do the screen test.” -  “I saw this opportunity slipping away. I saw this film as my chance to make it.” 2010
He’d already cast me in his film Pirates, so it wasn’t like it was a casting-couch thing where you HAVE to sleep with someone to get the part.” 1999

I was shocked and got very upset and started to cry” 2010
I wanted him probably more than he wanted me.” 1999
"You can't help falling in love with him." 1986  


Then she stayed with him for a half-year, and then starred in his movie, and went with him to Cannes festival, a video from which shows them both happy and laughing, her arm around his shoulders. There are photos, too.

I will never forgive Polanski. I’ll never know if my life would have been different had ‘this’ not happened. There needs to be some justice. I’m telling the truth and Roman knows I’m telling the truth.” 2010
For what there is to “never forgive”, please re-read what I wrote above. He gave her everything to start a successful career, but once she landed in Hollywood, there was nothing more he could do for her. (“I used to have the world in the palm of my hand. But I discovered cocaine and just couldn’t stop,” she says in 1997). And there was nobody else to do for her what he already had done, or what he had done for Nastassya Kinski. Then again, Lewis is not Kinski; but her lack of talent, her interest in drugs dating back to long before she met him, or her innate promiscuity isn’t something he should be blamed for. He did for her all there was to do, and it apparently wasn’t enough. Woe is him.

After breakfast he wanted to show us [Charlotte and her friend Eliza] the Mona Lisa so he took us to the Louvre and some other museums in the centre” 2010. This, at last, sounds like something he would do. There must also have been operas and philharmonics, in the six months of their affair. No wonder she still can’t forgive him.

There are photographs showing them together, in which she looks at him with unmistakable admiration. And now she says, “He sexually abused me and manipulated me in the worst way. He has scarred me and the experience has definitely put a strain on my life.” It showed, later, with that long list of high-profile lovers she had after him.

Actually, a sore loser is nothing to laugh at; what with her ruining the career he had launched for her, we should feel sorry for the unhappy woman who “couldn’t stop” and one day decided to blame all her mishaps on someone else, contrary to all evidence, to her own recorded words, to all documented history. If only she hadn’t agreed to be a pawn in Cooley’s game, - and thus placed herself outside the realm of pity or mercy.

Because all this is done with a purpose, and she unabashedly voices it. She says, “it is very important that the District Attorney and the Swiss authorities are armed with this information as they decide Mr. Polanski’s fate”. Standing ovation. Really, Cooley, nothing else to influence the Swiss? Obviously. Nothing.

And they unearth this pathetic woman, and their timing sucks badly with her resurfacing exactly there and then, and every word she says screams to high heaven, “we have nothing against him and our time is running short!”

Really, guys, this alone should be enough for everyone to see through their rhetoric. Rhetoric is all their have, and this instance of slanderous demagogy is on a par with those panties stained by God-knows-whose sperm.

All’s well that ends well, though. The common sense prevailed. The Swiss took their decision, and July 12 Polanski was free. The USA asked if they could appeal this decision, and got an unqualified “no”.

And now the punch line. A shit ton of explanations appeared in American newspapers right after the event, trying to make this decision pass for a result of a “miscommunication”. A miscommunication that lasted 9 months, involved such prominent (and apparently literate?) figures, all this in the 21st century where I believe they didn’t communicate with the help of postal pigeons or sealed bottles thrown in the ocean.

This case abounds in instances about which one wants to exclaim, “But this alone is enough to see through all their lies!” Ms.Gailey’s medical report is enough. The attempt to mislead justice with those panties is enough. Their constant need to recur to exaggerations, distortion and direct lies is enough. Charlotte Lewis’s Mona Lisa is enough. And now this.

While for the Swiss, like for anyone else who is still in their right mind, the case was clear: unlawful sexual intercourse, the punishment for which has already been served. 


tom hyland said...


You have provided a great service here in that you have faithfully documented all the doings in Polanski's case over these many years.

The problem with being able to present information or opinions at a very fast pace is that there is too often a rush to judgment. Facts are often not checked, so what does come to the surface are half-truths or sometimes, outright lies.

Interesting how you bring out the point that there were individuals who used this case for their own publicity. Hardly the first time and sadly, it won't be the last.

Congratulations on setting the record straight!

Jean said...

thank you Tom! And more thanks for your idea of the blogathon (I have just linked it): without you, I don't know when I would have finally posted all this, reshaping and restructuring and trying to find better words, - could have taken years

Anonymous said...

Jean, you said this, above:

"Polanski’s attorneys asked for the case to be tried in absentia, and were refused."

I think it should be:

"Polanski’s attorneys asked for the case to be sentenced in absentia, and were refused."

Anonymous said...

I would like to add to the whole "sentenced in absentia" point further.

If the Los Angeles court thought Polanski had not been sentenced properly, they could have done so in absentia for the past 34 years. They could've done so when he received his Oscar back in 2003. In fact, they could still do so today.

I mean, Polanski doesn't have to be physically present. And there is something called "Skype", which is used for face-to-face communications right here in the computer age. Polanski and the Judge Espinoza can talk to each other in this manner. It's so much more efficient than the pony express.

Jean said...

thank you, Anonymous - wish I knew how to address you, though. I definitely did mean "sentenced", I have corrected it now. Agree on all the rest of what you said, too. It would seem that in the 21th century they have some means to resolve the case; but it looks like they want to keep it forever, to be used in some more political games. Such a treasure as the Crime of the Century is too precious for LA DA's to miss an opportunity to make it the Crime of the 21st Century now. It also helps consolidating the nation, distracting its attention from real problems, and manipulating public opinion.