Monday, July 12, 2010

The Roman Polanski Saga Continues

The news announced today that Switzerland will not extradite Roman Polanski to the United States, and that he will now be allowed to return to his home in France.  Visiting the United States is still something that he cannot do, as the warrant for his arrest here still stands.  Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney is not happy with this turn of events.

What Steve Cooley does not say is how much money the city of Los Angeles has spent on this extradition.  Roman Polanski entered a guilty plea to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.  That was in 1977.  When he was 43.  He raped a 13-year-old girl.  Now, I don't condone his behavior, but I do question why we are still pursuing this.  Polanski has spent the last 33 years outside of the United States, and not allowed to come back here.  That is punishment.  He has also been forced to avoid other countries that have extradition agreements with the United States, which is also punishment.

But to Steve Cooley, nothing short of jail time will do.  Steve Cooley apparently does not understand that justice comes in many forms.  To spend millions of dollars to bring this man back to Los Angeles only for the pleasure of trying him, and possibly convicting him, thus allowing him to be placed in our jails, which will cost us more money, is an exercise in lunacy.  Cooley is not looking at the big picture.  The victim has asked that this case be dropped, there is no point in pursuing it and yet Cooley persists.

The purpose of incarceration is to rehabilitate criminals.  When a crime is committed and the perpetrator is caught, they are incarcerated in order to teach them that they must not do this again.  Polanski is now in his 70s.  Is it likely that he will do this again?  In the past 33 years that he has been on the run, have any charges been brought against him?  It seems that the purpose of incarceration has been negated in this case and therefore, it would be unnecessary at this point.

Not to Cooley.  Apparently, not to Barbara Blaine either.  Blaine is the President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.  She and her group are in Chicago picketing the Swiss consulate for the actions of the Swiss government.  Now, Blaine has to keep abuse by priests in the spotlight because this is how she makes her money.  In 2006 and 2007 she was paid $75,000 in salary for her position as president.  In 2008 she was raised to $75,750 (these figures are from the Form 990 filed with the IRS for these years).  The 2009 filing is not yet available.

My question to Blaine is, when did Polanski become a priest?  Her organization is specifically against Priests (hence the name) yet she is speaking out against Polanski because, why?  Is he Catholic?  Is that enough for SNAP now?  Blaine made the claim that she heard there might be another victim, but since no charges have been filed, this claim is spurious at best.  It would not be admissible in court, yet she still makes the claim.  That doesn't speak well of her credibility. 

Let's do the best thing we can in this situation, and drop it.  If Cooley wants to keep the warrant in place, that's fine.  It's pointless, but he can have it.  Polanski can stay in France or Poland, where he is free from extradition.  And Blaine can shut up and mind her own business and collect her $75,000 whether she actually earns it or not.