Fugitive Child Rapist Can 'Remain Silent No Longer!'


If you're exhausted by the seeming inertia of the whole Roman Polanski extradition saga, here's something that should get you going again: The house-arrested filmmaker would like to take a few minutes to explain his point of view on the legal drama, apparently provoked by last week's decision that the Swiss justice ministry would not accept secret testimony from a prosecutor who was on the case three decades ago. This is all just too much for a guy who mortgaged his apartment for bail and can't get back to work with this dumb ankle bracelet on. Click through for Polanski's full statement released Sunday.

I don't pretend to know what Polanski was thinking to issue a screed like this in the middle of the extradition process, when every legal development seems to be working against him and it's just a matter of time before he winds up back in front of a judge in Los Angeles. Attacking the current L.A. district attorney wasn't what I would have recommended, and accusing the courts of callously disregarding the "victim"'s wishes -- when clearly the "victim" in this schema is Polanski himself (who, in another nice touch, vaguely blames this whole mess on doc filmmaker Marina Zenovich) -- seems inadvisable as well. Say what you will about the case itself; as strategy goes, silence has its benefits.

[Emphasis below is Polanski's own.]

I can remain silent no longer!

Roman Polanski

Throughout my seven months since September 26, 2009, the date of my arrest at Zurich Airport, where I had landed with a view to receiving a lifetime award for my work from the representative of the Swiss Minister of Culture, I have refrained from making any public statements and have requested my lawyers to confine their comments to a bare minimum. I wanted the legal authorities of Switzerland and the United States, as well as my lawyers, to do their work without any polemics on my part.

I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words.

I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else.

It is true: 33 years ago I pleaded guilty, and I served time at the prison for common law crimes at Chino, not in a VIP prison. That period was to have covered the totality of my sentence. By the time I left prison, the judge had changed his mind and claimed that the time served at Chino did not fulfill the entire sentence, and it is this reversal that justified my leaving the United States.

This affair was roused from its slumbers of over three decades by a documentary film-maker who gathered evidence from persons involved at the time. I took no part in that project, either directly or indirectly. The resulting documentary not only highlighted the fact that I left the United States because I had been treated unjustly; it also drew the ire of the Los Angeles authorities, who felt that they had been attacked and decided to request my extradition from Switzerland, a country I have been visiting regularly for over 30 years without let or hindrance.

I can now remain silent no longer!

I can remain silent no longer because the American authorities have just decided, in defiance of all the arguments and depositions submitted by third parties, not to agree to sentence me in absentia even though the same Court of Appeal recommended the contrary.

I can remain silent no longer because the California court has dismissed the victim's numerous requests that proceedings against me be dropped, once and for all, to spare her from further harassment every time this affair is raised once more.

I can remain silent no longer because there has just been a new development of immense significance. On February 26 last, Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney in charge of the case in 1977, now retired, testified under oath before Judge Mary Lou Villar in the presence of David Walgren, the present deputy district attorney in charge of the case, who was at liberty to contradict and question him, that on September 16, 1977, Judge Rittenband stated to all the parties concerned that my term of imprisonment in Chino constituted the totality of the sentence I would have to serve.

I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie. In the same statement, retired deputy district attorney Roger Gunson added that it was false to claim, as the present district attorney's office does in their request for my extradition, that the time I spent in Chino was for the purpose of a diagnostic study.

The said request asserts that I fled in order to escape sentencing by the U.S. judicial authorities, but under the plea-bargaining process I had acknowledged the facts and returned to the United States in order to serve my sentence. All that remained was for the court to confirm this agreement, but the judge decided to repudiate it in order to gain himself some publicity at my expense.

I can remain silent no longer because for over 30 years my lawyers have never ceased to insist that I was betrayed by the judge, that the judge perjured himself, and that I served my sentence. Today it is the deputy district attorney who handled the case in the 1970s, a man of irreproachable reputation, who has confirmed all my statements under oath, and this has shed a whole new light on the matter.

I can remain silent no longer because the same causes are now producing the same effects. The new District Attorney, who is handling this case and has requested my extradition, is himself campaigning for election and needs media publicity!

I can no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago.

I can remain silent no longer because I have been placed under house arrest in Gstaad and bailed in very large sum of money which I have managed to raise only by mortgaging the apartment that has been my home for over 30 years, and because I am far from my family and unable to work.

Such are the facts I wished to put before you in the hope that Switzerland will recognize that there are no grounds for extradition, and that I shall be able to find peace, be reunited with my family, and live in freedom in my native land.

Roman Polanski

[via La Règle du jeu]


  • box211 says:

    Hey-silent or not-you do the crime, you do the time. This is not the United States of Polanski, it is America and we don't want that behavior here. Want to come back? We have a room waiting for you.
    You probably got used to being pampered because of your wealth. The average guy would have been behind bars for many years. So, don't think you can call the shots and weasel your way around this. You've got an unpaid debt to fulfill.

  • john knight says:

    Good point, box211.
    This was an amazingly light sentence in the first place, and it would sure be nice to know why. More recently, men like Ken Teague got a life sentence PLUS 108 years for a similar crime, so exactly why did Polanski get off so easy?
    otoh, if this judge DID agree to the light sentence in the first place, then had a change of heart, or just changed his mind, or got some political pressure, then Polanski DOES have an argument.
    At this point, we really do need to know why this judge AGREED to the light sentence, and then why he CHANGED it after the fact.

  • Jason Wells says:

    This is by no means an attempt to defend Polanski, but I'm confused by your assertion that the victim to whom Polanski refers is "clearly" himself. He is referring to Samantha Geimer, of course, who has often expressed her wish that the whole thing be dropped. He even notes "her" desire to avoid harrassment.

  • Yes, I understand the reference to "victim" in his statement is to Geimer. But the overriding sentiment of this statement is not that her wishes have been ignored, but rather that his own troubles -- for which he is responsible as a fugitive -- are the fault of everybody but himself. He is the victim, the one the media want "on a platter." It's some pretty potent pathological stuff.

  • Emperor Norton says:

    S.T., thanks for the clear headline!
    This case was a mess from the beginning, and I'm saying this: If Polanski has evidence that his sentencing was mishandled, he should present it in a court of law. Here in the country where the crime was committed.
    This isn't an old drug bust or a traffic case, where people are coming after him for ridiculous reasons. And Samantha Geimer's wanting to drop the case because people are hounding her doesn't make child rape go away. Her situation is awful, yes, but so was the crime.

  • Peter Voth says:

    Roman Polanski is not a "child rapist". Such a sensationalist headline is exactly the type of thing he's complaining about.

  • Anon says:

    At the end of the day he raped a young girl. He should stay in prison for life as far as i am concerned regardless of what the victim wants today. He should have never been released in the first place.
    Some Crimes regardless of the judicial circumstances he is pleading are heinous enough that to to defend your actions in any way just convince me more that he should be locked up.

  • Trevor Cameron says:

    He drugged and penetrated a 13 year old girl both vaginally & anally while she said 'no'. He fled the country & avoided extradition for several years. I think this does make him child rapist.Perhaps you should read the court trial transcript to better understand the nature of his crime.

  • Harry Key says:

    ST: It appears that by 'victim' he's talking about the real victim, not himself. He calls her a 'her'.
    It's a despicable crime, but if you want the justice system to represent you with blind fairness, then it must also protect child molesters. I don't think anyone fancies being charged with a crime, serving a sentence and then still living the rest of their life in fear of being re-charged for the same crime.
    Back then, pedophilia wasn't the hot-button issue that it is today, there was little education about it, and there was little political ground to be made by pursuing it. Now, that's changed - but that should hardly be a reason to subvert the course of justice.

  • Matt Garrett says:

    You're a Pedophile, Mr. Polanski. Why should I give a rats ass why you can remain silent?