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January 21, 2010

Rape victim in Roman Polanski case complaining about prosecutors violating her rights

This new Los Angeles Times article, which is headlined "Victim in Roman Polanski rape case expected to take new legal step on his behalf," reports on the latest fascinating twist in the Roman Polanksi case. Here is how the piece starts:

In the 33 years since she accused Roman Polanski of rape, Samantha Geimer has publicly forgiven the acclaimed director, accused the American justice system of mistreating him and urged a dismissal of his still pending criminal case. On Friday, Geimer is expected to take yet another step on Polanski’s behalf – asking that a Los Angeles court force U.S. authorities to abandon their ongoing attempt to extradite the filmmaker from Switzerland.

In papers served on Polanski’s lawyers Wednesday and expected to be filed in Superior Court this morning, Geimer’s lawyer contends that the L.A. County district attorney’s office violated the state's victims rights statute by not consulting with her prior to making the extradition request.

Now a married mother living in Hawaii, Geimer was 13 when she told authorities Polanski raped and sodomized her during a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson’s house.

Geimer's attorney, Lawrence Silver, wrote that at a Friday hearing he planned to cite Marsy’s Law – a 2008 statute passed by ballot initiative – that specifically guarantees crime victims a number of rights, including the right “to reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding ... the determination whether to extradite the defendant.”

The attorney wrote that in a July letter to the deputy district attorney handling the case, he made clear that Geimer wanted to meet with prosecutors and planned to “exercise every right that she may have under the Victim’s Bill of Rights.”

No one from the district attorney’s office contacted Geimer – whose pro-Polanski feelings were widely known – at that time or in September when the director was arrested in Zurich on a three-decades-old arrest warrant, according to the papers.

January 21, 2010 at 05:47 PM | Permalink

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Bravo! Good for her. It just goes to show once again that prosecutors are all for victim's rights when it fills up the jails but hell bent on screwing the victims as many times as they can when the prosecutor doesn't get their way.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 21, 2010 6:51:32 PM

I know that one must always be understanding of victims of crime, especially rape, and especially child rape victims. However, having said that, I do find Ms. Geimer's activism on Polanski's behalf to be largely baffling. On the one hand, she has never changed her story that, as a 13-year-old, she was invited by him to a phony photo shoot for French Vogue, plied with champagne and quaaludes, raped and forcibly sodomized. And, yet, she wants him to be able to get away with his crime against her--not to mention that she also believes total forgiveness is in order for his flouting of California law as justified by his personal opinion that he shouldn't have to serve out the remainder of a 90-day sentence at the behest of the evil, hanging judge (who, if anything, was actually far too lenient).

Polanski has never been genuinely repentant about his action and sees himself as the victim instead of Ms. Geimer. What do feminists make of this? Is she, dare I say it, letting down other rape victims? Does anyone have any insight into her thinking on this matter?

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 21, 2010 8:20:28 PM

Alpino.

You know, not everyone is out for revenge. There is an old saying that goes, "distrust those people where the desire to punish is strong". I think her motivation is clear. This is OLD news to her. It's something she processed and dealt with many years ago. Why bring back the dead and shake the bones. What purpose does that serve to her now? I'd feel the same way.

Now, if she was calling him asking for a date that would be one thing. But what's so strange about letting by-gones be by-gones. Truly it's the sick ones that can't understand her. Normal people get it right away.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 21, 2010 8:40:01 PM

I would think the purpose it would serve, especially in a case that is so public, would be to encourage other rape victims to testify against their rapists, so that these guys can be put away and be deprived of the opportunity to victimize anyone else. By the way, I don't appreciate you calling me sick. Perhaps the sick ones are those who see nothing wrong in a child rapist getting off scot free.

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 21, 2010 8:53:02 PM

Nahhh...the legal system never violates it's own laws!!! NOT!!!!
Good for her! She forgave. She's free! Let's drop this already!!!

Posted by: George | Jan 21, 2010 9:19:39 PM

So it's alright to rape kids then? Yikes.

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 21, 2010 9:48:28 PM

George --

To just "drop it" creates a set of perverse incentives: Once convicted, bamboozle the court into letting you out of bail, skip the country, and if you stay on the lam long enough, they reward you by just yawning and letting it go.

It is an odd place indeed that would consider that justice.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 21, 2010 10:02:36 PM

When the raped kids say, it is time to drop the matter, then it is OK to move on.

The judge should assess all legal costs to the assets of the prosecutor, and exemplary damages to the office of the prosecutor. The case is driven by an improper motive, the need to get the prosecutor's name in the paper. The judge should not allow it to progress.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 21, 2010 10:45:48 PM

Yeah, SC, that really makes a lot of sense. Take a vacation.

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 21, 2010 11:02:36 PM

Alpino. What everyone is supposed to be noble and take one for the team, is that it? Oh, please. I'm not saying that your perspective is wrong. Yet it's clearly not *her* perspective. And as the victim, if you believe in victim's rights, her perspective should be given heavy weight.

Bill.

Yes, do the old switcharoo. When the desire of the victim stratifies your needs, side with the victim. When it doesn't, side with needs of the legal system. That's not a principled support of victim's rights. That's a principled support of whatever ramps up the most punishment on others.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 22, 2010 12:30:54 AM

Alpino, et al:

Personally, I actually care about the victim...the human being...more than incentives, the law, etc, etc. If she (who was the ONLY person hurt and violated in this matter) says it's time to drop it, then YES, it's time to drop it! Period!
Just like if a 19-year-old gets his 17-year-old girlfriend pregnant and they want to get married - if she does not want to purse charges against the guy, then who the hell is "The State" to do so in spite of her wishes???
In my opinion, her healing from what was done to her hinges on her forgiving and moving on with her life. If there was a way for Polanski to be pursued and locked up without her having to be reminded of this all over again, then fine. Instead, she's being victimized a second time. This time by the State of California.
Yes, I side with the victim...not the "system." Now, go back and watch some more Fox News...

Posted by: George | Jan 22, 2010 3:43:42 AM

George, comparing a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old having consensual sex to a 44-year-old man drugging, raping and forcibly sodomizing a 13-year-old may not be the aptest comparison. The reason why the state does not always adhere to the victim's wishes is that there are often larger interests at stake.

In this case, apart from the fact that as a society we have agreed that monsters such as Polanski simply deserve to be punished for serious, violent crimes (let's not forget that if he were to be tried and convicted today on the original counts, Polanski would be facing a life sentence) and for arrogantly disregarding the law (e.g. skipping bail), the State of California puts criminals on notice that you won't necessarily get away with a felony (especially something as serious as raping a child) by fleeing and just riding the storm out. This kind of well-publicized leniency can't help but erode the public's confidence in the justice system as well as likely encouraging other criminals (particularly child rapists). In other words, not only must Ms. Geimer's rights as a victim be considered, but also those of untold potential future victims.

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 22, 2010 5:13:33 AM

While the views of the victims certainly should be taken into account, prosecutors don't just represent victims like other lawyers represent clients. Prosecutors represent the state. And the state certainly has an interest in making sure that people who flee from justice (and flaunt their flight) are prosecuted. Remember, it was Polanski who dragged this on so long to the point where the victim is now saying let's move on. I agree that we can't allow such a perverse incentive for criminals to flee like that. There has to be consequences for that kind of flight.

Posted by: Domino | Jan 22, 2010 8:08:21 AM

If this was in the prosecution stage then a new strategy for a victim who does not want to testify or have her private matters aired in public can be invoked. Taking the Ninth. In most state courts if the victim takes the Fifth, the court will invoke a witness immunity statute which immunizes someone for their testimony and specifically references the Fifth Amendment. By invoking the Ninth Amendment right of privacy the victim is hitting the nail square on the head. he/she is invoking her privacy interest not her interest in not being prosecuted for her own words spoken in court. The victim statute referred to above is cognizant of these rights and has codified them. The prosecutor has violated her statutory rights and she should have grounds for a civil suit against him. I offer that the publicity has damaged her and her family. I would fashion the suit under section 1983, the First, Ninth, Fourteenth Amendments, the state statute.

As for Polanski, he is an ugly somegun who is very hard to look at so I hope they drop this and take his puss off the news.

Posted by: mpb | Jan 22, 2010 10:09:14 AM

Seriously, does Bill et al. really want this woman to devote her life being the "victim" of Polanski? Can't she make a conscious decision to lead her life without being an unpaid poster girl for punishment? The people that want to drag her into this chapter are the real sickos, IMHO.

Now, I think you people understand why I refer to it as the "victims' rights industry." Actual "victims" have little to do with it (and most of them are not really nice people to be around.) Instead, the industry, as Bill demonstrates, just uses people that had the misfortune to be involved in a transaction that was illegal for their own purposes.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jan 22, 2010 10:15:29 AM

Alpino and Dominio. "The reason why the state does not always adhere to the victim's wishes is that there are often larger interests at stake."

I agree with you. Yet the victim also has a subjective interest as well. It's not only a question of me feeling this way; the law itself codifies that interest. Society has specifically said that one part of that larger interest is the victim own subjective interest; the victim's interest and society's interest *do not lie separate and distinct*.

So let us look at this closely. When did the prosecutors EVER take the victim's wishes into account in this recent case. "No one from the district attorney’s office contacted Geimer." If true, that's gross prosecution misconduct. It's not only or even most importantly a violation of her own subjective interest. It was a violation of the law to ignore her completely. You would have thought that the retards would at least have gone through the motions of pretending that they cared about the victim.

That's what so damning about this case. The law doesn't require the state to capitulate to the victim's wishes. What the law requires is that the prosecution at least *listen* to those concerns. But the prosecutors were so hell bent on getting revenge for having their faces rubbed in their own incompetence that all the prosecutors could do is--once again-reveal their own legal incompetence.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 22, 2010 12:10:32 PM

Daniel --

A requirement that you listen to the victim is not a requirement that you do what she wants.

s.cotus --

"Now, I think you people understand why I refer to it as the "victims' rights industry." Actual "victims" have little to do with it (and most of them are not really nice people to be around.)"

Specific examples, please, with names, dates and places. You can cite to court records if you like.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 22, 2010 1:04:59 PM

Daniel is right on. This isn't an issue of whether the victim or the state should have the ultimate decision, but more so that the state violated the that state's own law in their efforts to extradite Polanski.

While the state may have the best interests of it's people in mind, this is a clear cut case of prosecutor misconduct.

Posted by: bernie | Jan 22, 2010 2:39:11 PM

"if you believe in victim's rights, her perspective should be given heavy weight."

So, from your position then you support victim's rights? And would that include victim impact statements across the board?

Posted by: Steve | Jan 22, 2010 6:17:12 PM

Steve.

Yes. I take that you are a newcomer here because that's a position I have consistently advocated. My fundamental belief is that American justice has become too objective and we need to find space to reclaim the subjective in it. That's the reason I support giving more discretion to district judges, more power to juries, and why I support victim's rights. I don't believe that human justice finds its ultimate fulfillment in an abstraction.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 22, 2010 7:50:17 PM

Why didn't she just keep her mouth shut and none of this would be going on... whats her purpose of her saying anything if it wasn't a big deal... he should be in jail like the rest of the child molesters...

Posted by: Rita | Jan 22, 2010 11:29:08 PM

More evidence that most "sex" crimes aren't as devastating as we make them out to be. The real trauma is rarely from the crime but comes from those who surround the victim and convince of how bad it should be and how debilitated they should feel.

Posted by: freedomwriter | Jan 22, 2010 11:47:06 PM

Rita --

Excellent point. If anonymity were truly what the victim wanted, her present behavior is hard to explain.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 23, 2010 1:50:56 PM

Bill. Talk about having a sick and twisted mind. If you weren't a regular commentator here I'd think you were tolling.

She had her anonymity *until the prosecutors took it away from her*. They were the one who decided to go after him 23 years later. I bet no one on this board even knew who she was until the prosecutors decided to do that. I sure didn't.

The sad part about the logic Rita and Bill use is that it's the exact same logic that wife beaters use. If she just took her lumps the bruises would go away in time. What's she complaining about anyway. Why is she dragging all this dirty laundry into the public. What an attention whore. See why I beat her. Who could stand a woman like that.

I'm ashamed of you Bill. I honestly am. The gyrations you are going through to defend the indefensible behavior of prosecutors in this case is causing you to lose all crediability. Maybe that doesn't matter to you as this is just a internet forum.

But shame on you!

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 23, 2010 3:29:45 PM

Daniel --

I will just put forward some propositions with which I doubt any reasonable person could differ:

1. The wishes of the victim are important to a prosecutor's decision but not controlling.

2. The reason for this is that the prosecutor is the lawyer for the state, not for any individual. The victim is entitled to his or her own lawyer to sue in tort (which is what happened in the OJ Simpson case).

3. The interest of the state is that convicted defendants show up for sentencing.

4. Concommitantly, to allow a defendant who flouts his obligation to show up to get away with it damages the interests of the state.

5. The lawyer for the state would be deficient in his professional obligation to provide zealous representation for his client if he remained inert when his client's interests are damaged. If he is tardy in meeting that obligation, that is a bad thing, but not as bad as not meeting them at all when an obvious opportunity to do so arises, as it has here.

The flaw in your thinking is that the sentiment in favor of the victim's desire to bring things to a halt is controlling. But it isn't, not in this case or any other. The state has broader interests, i.e., to avoid signalling to future defendants that if they jump bail and stay on the lam long enough, they get a pass. No serious person could expect an ethical prosecutor to act that way.

P.S. Would you say it's proper for a prosecutor to seek the death penalty every time the victim's family wants it, simply because they want it?

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Posted by: Tina | Jan 26, 2010 4:03:09 AM

I think that having Roman Polanski have to register as a sex offender may be the best thing to happen for others that have to register. Those with influence in the film industry, may get involved in pointing out that the ridiculous constantly changing registration punishments are PUNISHMENTS and do no good to predict future crimes nor do they protect anyone. (EXCEPT THE JOBS OF EXTRA POLICE OFFICERS THAT ARE REGISTERING PEOPLE AND NOT OUT FIGHTING CURRENT CRIMES.)

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the best thing to happen for others that have to register.

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