French-Polish film director Roman Polanski—who pled guilty to the statutory rape of a drugged 13-year-old girl in 1977, then fled the United States after learning that the judge in the case, Laurence J. Rittenband, planned to reject his plea bargain (he is still wanted in the U.S. on charges of rape)—has stepped down from presiding over the César Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars.
Following the announcement that Polanski would be presiding in a figurehead role over the awards, French women’s groups called for a boycott and launched a petition against the Césars that garnered 61,000-signatures.
“I’m surprised and shocked that a rape case in a man’s life counts for so little,” stated France’s women’s rights minister, Laurence Rossignol, on French radio. “It’s a choice that shows an indifference to the charges against him on the part of those who decided to nominate him as president of the Césars. It’s saying it’s not a big deal for the organizers that Roman Polanski is wanted in the United States for having committed the rape…of a child of 13 years.”
On Tuesday, Polanski’s lawyer Hervé Temime told Agence France-Presse that he would no longer preside over the ceremony due to the “unjustified” conflict caused by his involvement.
The Guardian reports:
Hervé Temime said the controversy had “profoundly saddened” the director of Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. “However, in order not to disturb the César ceremony, which should focus on the cinema and not on the appointment of the president, Roman Polanski has decided not to accept the invitation.”
Samantha Geimer, Polanski’s victim, has since publicly made peace with the director and asked that the charges against him be dropped.
To the press and lawyers involved in her case, Geimer, in her 2013 memoir The Girl, wrote, “You shouldn’t be able to make what happened to me worse so it’s more interesting,” Geimer said. “You’re put upon to feel bad and be a victim so other people can use you as they see fit.”
Geimer, however, has always seen the incident with Polanski as a rape, describing that, after plying her with champagne and a piece of a Quaalude, the director forced anal intercourse and ignored her pleas for him to stop.
In The Girl, she writes:
“He holds my arms at my sides and kisses me. And I say, ‘No, come on,’ but between the pill and the champagne it’s like my own voice is very far away.”
And somehow, despite his past actions, Polanski finds it terribly “unjust” that he will no longer be honored with a fake job at a French awards show. Imagine having another entity ignore your pride and desires because your wishes don’t line up with their’s. What a violation...