Patterico's Pontifications

9/28/2009

HuffPo Blogger Falsely Claims Age of Consent Was 14 When Polanski Raped a 13-Year-Old

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:24 pm

At the Huffington Post, Joan Z. Shore writes a ridiculous piece supporting Roman Polanski with this howler:

The 13-year old model “seduced” by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It’s probably 13 by now!)

Is that supposed to be funny? If so, a lot of people took it seriously — and they shouldn’t, because it’s entirely false. The age of consent in California was 18 when Polanski anally raped a 13-year-old child. And it has been 18 since 1913, as the U.S. Supreme Court explained in 1981:

California’s statutory rape law had its origins in the Statutes of Westminster enacted during the reign of Edward I at the close of the 13th century (3 Edw. 1, ch. 13 (1275); 13 Edw. 1, ch. 34 (1285)). The age of consent at that time was 12 years, reduced to 10 years in 1576 (18 Eliz. 1, ch. 7, § 4). This statute was part of the common law brought to the United States. Thus, when the first California penal statute was enacted, it contained a provision (1850 Cal.Stats., ch. 99, § 47, p. 234) that proscribed sexual intercourse with females under the age of 10. In 1889, the California statute was amended to make the age of consent 14 (1889 Cal.Stats., ch.191, § 1, p. 223). In 1897, the age was advanced to 16 (1897 Cal.Stats., ch. 139, § 1, p. 201). In 1913, it was fixed at 18, where it now remains (1913 Cal.Stats., ch. 122, § 1, p. 212).

Thanks to Slate’s Explainer for the link to the Supreme Court opinion.

Shame on Joan Z. Shore.

P.S. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation flying about with respect to this case: people saying Polanski had a “trial” (he pled guilty); that the terms of his plea bargain provided that the judge would give him time served (it left the sentence up to the judge); that he didn’t know the girl’s age (he swore under oath he did); that the age of consent was 14 (I just proved it was 18); that the statute of limitations applies (not when a defendant flees pending sentencing); and that Polanski never did it again (we don’t know that, and I don’t believe it). I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

P.P.S. As always, I speak on behalf of myself and not the L.A. County D.A., for whom I work.

A Simple, Innocent — And Yet (I Think) Very, Very Important Question

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:55 pm

Roman Polanski’s defenders continually emphasize one thing: that despite raping a child in Los Angeles, he has never done anything like that since.

I have a simple question: how do we know that?

Anne Applebaum: I Had Absolutely No Way to Know That My Husband Was Helping Polanski — That Is, Other Than by Reading a Story Which I Myself Linked

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 pm

As I mentioned earlier this evening, Anne Applebaum today defended her decision not to disclose her Polish politician husband’s official efforts on behalf of Roman Polanski, in a blog post she wrote on behalf of Roman Polanski:

Also, when I wrote the blog I had no idea that my husband, who is in Africa, would, or could do anything about it, as Polanski is not a Polish citizen.

Odd. The very first sentence of her post reads as follows:

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland — the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators — that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski?

Click on the link in that last sentence, and you’ll see a Washington Post story that contains the following passage:

Polanski also received support from Poland, where he moved as a toddler and avoided capture by the Nazis, who put his mother to death in a concentration camp. “I am considering approaching the American authorities over the possibility of the U.S. president proclaiming an act of clemency, which would settle the matter once and for all,” said Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, according to the PAP news agency.

Radoslaw Sikorski is Applebaum’s husband.

Yes, Anne Applebaum had absolutely no way to know that her husband would do anything about Polanski — unless, of course, she read all the way to the fifth paragraph of the story she herself linked on the issue.

Thanks to Dusty.

UPDATE: Applebaum responds, adding new inaccuracies to the mix. Details here.

Your Evening Polanski Update, Part 2

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:22 pm

(It’s all too much for one post. Part 1 is here.)

Funnyman Roy Rivenburg reports that Roman Polanski has been arrested for making a bad movie:

“If Polanski had done something minor like drug and anally rape a 13-year-old girl who later forgave him, I’d let it slide,” said L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein. “Unless he were a Catholic priest, although I might make an exception if he were a priest who directed ‘Chinatown’ and ‘The Pianist.’

“But making a lousy film is beyond the pale,” Goldstein noted. “It’s right up there with interrupting Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards or being Michael Vick. And let’s not forget Polanski was also responsible for 1986′s tragically bad ‘Pirates.’ He deserves a horrible, soul-wrenching penalty, such as being forced to live in Europe, dine at swanky restaurants and hobnob with celebrities.”

Hahahahahahaha. By the way, back in real (non-satirical) life, Goldstein has now tweaked his argument slightly. Goldstein got his head handed to him by his commenters today for suggesting that it would cost my employer, the L.A. County D.A., too much money to seek justice for the anal rape of a 13-year-old child. Now, he says, we just have more important criminals to pursue than people who drug and anally rape a 13-year-old girl:

But with so many far more important cases sitting idle because of budget cuts and lack of manpower, it is hard to fathom why the D.A.’s office is suddenly spending time and money trying to re-energize an ancient sex case when there are so many more nasty characters so much closer to home who need to feel the strong arm of the law.

Of course, the case is ancient only because Polanski fled. You’d think it would be a pretty nervy argument to flee sentencing for 30 years, and then complain that the case is 30 years old. But that’s the argument Goldstein makes on Polanski’s behalf. I guess it’s not much different from the death penalty opponents who delay executions for 20+ years and then complain that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to keep someone on death row for 20+ years. There’s no argument too shameless for some people.

But the real crux of Goldstein’s post is to suggest that the D.A. arrested Polanski, not to seek justice in an awful sexual assault case, but rather for petty revenge:

Did the L.A. County district attorney’s office go after Roman Polanski because they wanted revenge after getting a black eye in the recent Polanski documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired?”

That’s the provocative theory floated by Newser’s always provocative Michael Wolff, best known as the author of “The Man Who Owns the News,” the wonderfully dishy recent biography of Rupert Murdoch. According to Wolff, it seems awfully strange that Polanski has been traveling to Switzerland for years — he even has a home there — without L.A. prosecutors managing to nab him until now.

Let’s look at the piece by Wolff, the provocative provocateur who so provocatively provoked Goldstein. It contains such measured and persuasive lines as these:

Prosecutors are the scariest people in a democracy because they can have you arrested and put in jail. They can do this essentially at will, if arresting you suits their purposes. . . . . Among all media whores, there is none so greedy and mendacious as a prosecutor.

(The cheering you hear in the distance is a group of Radley Balko followers. Oh, and fuck the police, too.)

You can tell that there is no axe to grind with Wolff. Just provocative provocativeness in all its provocative goodness.

For those of us who live in the real world, what was the actual reason it took so long to get Polanski? Cursory internet research reveals this answer:

U.S. authorities said Sunday they’ve tried to capture director Roman Polanski on his previous trips to Switzerland, but it wasn’t until recently that they were able to lay the groundwork days ahead in order to facilitate his arrest by Swiss police. . . . “There have been other times through the years when we have learned of his potential travel, but either those efforts fell through or he didn’t make the trip,” William Sorukas, chief of the U.S. Marshals Service’s domestic branch, said Sunday.

This time round, U.S. authorities learned of the director’s trip days in advance and were able to get the operation going.

How were we able to learn about it this time? As Sandi Gibbons of my office explained: “It wasn’t a big secret that he was going to be in Zurich. They had announced it on the internet.” If prosecutor-haters Goldstein and Wolff have evidence that Polanski’s past trips had been publicly announced on the Internet days in advance, let them present it. Until then, I’ll stick with the simplest explanation: he had simply become more brazen.

Remember: Gibbons speaks for my office; I do not. I speak merely as a citizen advocating common sense.

Part 1 of tonight’s update is here.

Your Evening Polanski Update, Part 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:19 pm

There’s too much news for one post.

The Smoking Gun chose today to release Roman Polanski’s plea transcript (yes, Richard Rushfield and Anne Applebaum, it was a plea, not a “trial”). Anne Applebaum, call your office! Contrary to Applebaum’s claim that “[t]here is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age,” a read through the transcript reveals that Polanski admitted under oath that he knew she was 13:

THE CLERK: Would you raise your right hand, please?

You do solemnly swear that the testimony you may give in the cause now pending before this Court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

. . . .

MR. GUNSON: On March 10, 1977, the day you had sexual intercourse with the complaining witness, how old did you believe her to be?

(Pause in the proceedings while a discussion off the record ensued at the counsel table between the defendant and his counsel.)

THE DEFENDANT: She was 13.

MR. GUNSON: Did you understand that she was 13 on March 10, 1977, when you had sexual intercourse with her?

(Pause in the proceedings while a discussion off the record ensued at the counsel table between the defendant and his counsel.)

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

His defenders will claim that he lied to get a plea bargain — he didn’t think she was a day under 14! — but anyone claiming that there was “evidence” that he didn’t know her age might also consider reporting his sworn testimony that he did.

For what it’s worth, Applebaum today responded (in a message reproduced in a Washington Post chat) to my post noting that she had failed to disclose her Polish politician husband’s active role in seeking Polanski’s release when she wrote her silly post supporting Polanski. Applebaum’s defense:

I have disclosed that [the marriage] before, more than once. Also, when I wrote the blog I had no idea that my husband, who is in Africa, would, or could do anything about it, as Polanski is not a Polish citizen. I am not responsible for his decisions and he is not responsible for mine.

Interesting; I guess I learned about her husband’s actions before she did. (Thanks to reader Paul V., who is not impressed.)

P.S. Bear in mind that, as always, I am speaking personally and not on behalf of the L.A. County District Attorney, for whom I work.

UPDATE: Part 2 of tonight’s Polanski update is here.

UPDATE x2: Ms. Applebaum, the Associated Press and Bloomberg both say Polanski is indeed a Polish citizen (as well as a citizen of France). Could you possibly be wrong about that, as you have been wrong about so much else?

UPDATE x3: DRJ contributes even more links which also say Polanski is a dual citizen of France and Poland: Reuters and (pay close attention, Ms. Applebaum) a Washington Post op-ed.

Palin: “Going Rogue”

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 4:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sarah Palin has completed her first book several months ahead of schedule:

“Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, has finished her memoir just four months after the book deal was announced, and the release date has been moved up from the spring to Nov. 17, her publisher said.
***
The book now has a title, one fitting for a public figure known for the unexpected—”Going Rogue: An American Life.”

Palin reportedly got a hefty advance but the Palin family may also get a big Christmas bonus this year.

– DRJ

Stupid Criminals, 2009 Edition

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 4:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Our friend Gazzer brings us a thoroughly modern 2009 version of Stupid Criminals. Meanwhile, this knife-wielding purse thief found an old-fashioned way to get caught:

“Police say 24-year-old Gregorio Isarr-Vasquez approached two women, displayed a knife, and tried to take both of the victim’s purses. Isarr-Vasquez also punched both women in the face and threw a child to the ground during the hold-up.

A witness who saw the crime tackled Isarr-Vasquez to the ground and held him until police arrived. He is facing two counts of Aggravated Robbery, one count of Aggravated Assault and one count of Injury to a child.”

Don’t mess with Texas women and children.

– DRJ

Taking the Gloves Off

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 2:36 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Obama is taking the gloves off … Michelle Obama, that is, and the fight is in Copenhagen and not Afghanistan:

The First Lady leaves for Copenhagen tomorrow evening, and from the moment she arrives, she will begin lobbying for Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. She, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, and TV mega mogul Oprah Winfrey will try to meet with every one of the 100+ International Olympic Committee members.

“The gloves are off!” the First Lady declared with a smile. She spoke with a handful of reporters in the State Dining room at White House, and relayed a story from last weekend’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.”

The Obamas feel right at home with this kind of competition:

Mrs. Obama likened the next few days, to final days of a campaign.

“People are making up their minds until the very end. And that one conversation or you know, one example or illustration that connects could make the difference,” she said. “We’re just not gonna assume that the decision is made, so that no matter what the outcome is we’ll feel as country, as a team, that we’ve done everything we can to bring it home.”

That’s very much why the President decided he too should join the team on the ground in Denmark. The President will take a red-eye flight on Thursday night and spend just a few hours on the ground.”

The President has reportedly also been “working the phones” in support of Chicago’s 2016 bid. Too bad General McChrystal isn’t on Obama’s speed dial because America would be far better served if the Obamas did “everything we can” to get a victory in Afghanistan instead of the Olympics for Chicago.

– DRJ

Bank of America Suspends Work with ACORN

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 2:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Bank of America has temporarily suspended its dealings with ACORN’s housing division:

“In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.

“We completely understand why our lending partners like Bank of America want assurances that the recent allegations against us won’t happen again,” ACORN Housing Corp. said. “We are taking a number of steps to ensure this, including providing ethics training to all of our staff.”

The decision appears to be in response to this:

“On Friday, GOP Reps. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Darrell Issa of California and Lamar Smith of Texas sent a letter to 14 banks requesting disclosure to the House Financial Services Committee of all financial arrangements with ACORN and its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Each of the three congressmen is the ranking Republican on a House panel: Bachus on the House Financial Services Committee, Issa on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Smith on the Judiciary Committee.”

Unlike ACORN’s reasonable written response, CEO Bertha Lewis lashed out at Republicans:

“The Republicans are trying to intimidate banks that have stepped up to help stop the foreclosure crisis,” said ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis. “These same Republicans ignored ACORN’s warnings about predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, then gave Wall Street free rein and are now obstructing efforts to help families.”

I think ACORN is better served by reasoned responses than lashing out, but then I also thought ACORN was better served by not filing a lawsuit.

– DRJ

One is the Loneliest Number

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 1:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

General Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s commander in Afghanistan, has talked to President Obama once in the past 70 days:

“McChrystal talked about his interaction with the president in an interview with CBS News.

“I’ve talked to the president since I’ve been here once on a (video teleconference),” he said.

“You talked to him once in 70 days?” CBS’ David Martin asked.

“That’s correct,” McChrystal said.”

Meanwhile, Obama played golf almost every weekend this summer while General McChrystal and his troops toiled in Afghanistan. Obama also found two spare days this week to travel to Copenhagen to appear before the International Olympic Committee in support of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Obama is not serious about the war in Afghanistan.

– DRJ

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