Atlantic magazine staff writer and participant the recent University of Chicago conference on disinformation – Anne Applebaum – argued against the arrest of convicted child rapist Roman Polanski in a resurfaced op-ed from The Washington Post.
Applebaum, a former member of The Washington Post’s Editorial Board, argued the case in an opinion piece from September 27th, 2009: “The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski.”
The near 400-word apologia appeared to make a case against the arrest and potential trial of the now 88-year-old film director Polanski, who was accused of raping a 13-year-old amongst other charges including rape by use of drugs, perversion, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. Polanski ultimately accepted a plea bargain, entering a guilty plea to the charge of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
Since then, Polanski fled the U.S. to escape imprisonment, living in countries less likely to extradite him to the United States.
Polanski – whose case had also drawn sympathy and support from fellow Hollywood stars – found a defender in Applebaum when Swiss authorities detained him upon attempting to enter Switzerland at the urging of the U.S.
Applebaum described “the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades” as “bizarre.”
After rattling off a list of excuses as to why Polanski fled the U.S. insisted that imprisonment was unnecessary, as he had “paid for the crime in many, many ways” including “in notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma”:
Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom, has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.
“He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment,” she argues before offering a litany of excuses for the convicted child rapist’s decision to flee the U.S.
“To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system,” Applebaum continues, adding: “If he weren’t famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.”
At the time of initial publication, Applebaum’s stance drew criticism for defending and attempting to justify Polanski’s crime in even left-leaning outlets such as The Huffington Post and Media Matters for America.
“Applebaum, it should be noted, is married to Radosław Sikorski, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his role, Sikorski, along with Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski, will be appealing to US authorities to drop proceedings against Polanski,” The Huffington Post also revealed.
She was criticized for failing to reveal this conflict of interest, authoring a follow-up piece where she claimed it was “offensive” people were describing her as a “spokesman” for her husband.
“I will also note that at the time I wrote the blog item, I had no idea that the Polish government would or could lobby for Polanski’s release, as I am in Budapest and my husband is in Africa. (My editors later added a link to a news story that mentioned him.),” she reasoned.
The resurfaced op-ed follows Applebaum dismissing the Hunter Biden hard drive story as not deserving coverage by the mainstream media because it wasn’t “interesting” to her.