Sunday, October 4, 2009

Where was Anjelica Huston, and more about the Polanski sentencing report

The house on Mullholland Drive
We have received comments and e-mails regarding who was present at Jack Nicholson’s house when Roman Polanski visited with Samantha to take photos.
The sources of information I used were the grand jury transcript (Samantha’s statement), the plea transcript and the sentencing report, which included excerpts of witness statements and the psychiatric testing and was dictated by Kenneth Fare, acting probation officer. I chose to rely on the grand jury testimony a bit more heavily because it was delivered in a courtroom setting.
In the grand jury testimony, Samantha said they were met at the Nicholson/Huston residence by a woman with dark hair and two dogs, and that she did not know the woman’s name. Later in the testimony she said “… that woman was sitting there on the phone.” She was asked to identify a photo of Houston, and said, “That was the woman that was there.”
"That woman" meaning the women that Samantha probably expected to identify in a photograph? “There” meaning on the phone as Samantha left the residence or “there” when they arrived and let them into the house? No mention of that woman being someone different from the one who let them in. Nor was there a second photo of a different woman for Samantha to identify. The grand jury testimony isn’t clear about the possibility of two different women at the Nicholson house.
In Polanski’s statement to police (mentioned in the probation report), he says that a neighbor who acted as caretaker for Nicholson’s and Marlon Brando’s residence, Helena Kalliniaotes, let them into the premises and gave permission for him to open and drink the champagne.
A police interview with Kalliniaotes is mentioned in the probation report, and she stated she was the person who let the pair into the residence and drank half a glass of champagne with them. She believed that Samantha was 18 and that she was a girl trying to break into the movies, and that Polanski and the girl “acted as if they were lovers.”
In a police report cited in the probation report, Huston says she came home and was aware there was someone else in the house. She phoned Kalliniaotes who informed her it was Polanski and Samantha. Huston was not at all happy about this, and said “He wasn’t in the habit, you know, coming over without, you know, people aren’t in the habit of coming over without my knowing.”
Huston also said that the girl didn’t appear to be distressed and that “she seemed sullen, which I thought was a little rude.” She also said that she was never aware of Polanski going out with females under the age of 18, and that Samantha sure didn’t look like a 13-year old girl to her, perhaps 18 or 19 years of age.
So which is it? From the information in the grand jury report, Samantha says it was Huston, Polanski said it was the caretaker, and Kalliniaotes and Huston both back up Polanski's statement.
There is no question it was Huston who knocked on the bedroom door while Polanski was sodomizing Samantha, that interruption causing Polanski to pause during the rape to go to the door.
In Samantha’s grand jury testimony, the extent of the cited conversation between she and Huston was limited to Huston interrupting her phone conversation and asking “Are you the girl Roman is taking pictures of?” and Samantha’s reply to the affirmative while exiting the house, which does give credence to that being the only conversation between the two.
Why was Kalliniaotes’ presence not mentioned in the grand jury testimony? I have no answer for that. Perhaps the crime was still being investigated on March 24 (a mere 10 days after the crime) and the court preferred to use only witnesses who’d been interviewed by the police, or investigators, forensic scientists, photographers, and Samantha’s mother and sister, whose potential testimony was already known. I do not know the dates of Kalliniaotes or Huston’s police interviews. Perhaps the introduction of Kalliniaotes would have been confusing to the grand jury or thought of as irrelevant.
So the accepted version of the events of March 10, taking into consideration the contents of the probation report, appears to be that Huston came into this scene after the photoshoot seduction, and that Kalliniaotes gave Polanski access to the house and champagne.
There are lots of interesting tidbits in the probation report, many excerpts from police interviews of Polanski and other witnesses.
Polanski describes Samantha’s mother Susan as an “actress trying to get another agent,” and that he’d met her at a bar one year before the debacle with Samantha. The magazine that would potentially publish Samantha’s photos was Vogue Homme, a men’s magazine, not the women’s Vogue.
Polanski claims Samantha took the Quaalude voluntarily. He also said that he was drinking and knew he shouldn’t take one. (Side effects of Quaalude include confidence and sexual arousal but it decreases the ability to perform sexually.)
Sgt. Vanatter described Polanski the day after the event as “extremely hyperactive,” and that although Samantha looked like she could be between 16 and 18, she acted like a 13 or 14-year old girl.
In reading the probation report itself, it's pretty obvious that probation officer Fare knew he wasn't dealing with Average Joe Public. One might argue that probation officer Fare was star-struck by Polanski. He wrote:
… As has been said in another context, the defendant has not only survived, he has prevailed—surmounting the uncounted adversities, he has risen to the heights of his chosen profession and has become one of the leading creative forces of the past two decades.
Possibly not since Renaissance Italy has there been such a gathering of creative minds in one locale as there has been in Los Angeles during the past half century. The motion picture industry has proved magnet to many of them; World War II and the lowering of the Iron Curtain have provided an additional influx of the great artists of our time. While enriching the community with their presence, they have brought with them the manners and mores of their native lands which in rare instances have been at variance with those of their adoptive land. In these few instances, there had been enormous publicity—national and international interest has been focused on the community, often fairly, often not, often to the advantage of the few and frequently to their disadvantage.
The defendant, a French citizen of Polish extraction was surely well aware that the laws of California prohibited sexual relations with the young victim who was not yet 14 years of age …
That old Polanski charm at work here? Remember, he has extensive credits as an actor, too. Certainly Fare’s remarks indicate a different mindset in assessing a confessed rapist versus a probation officer who had not succumbed to Polanski’s tragic history or charm. Would a man from Compton or East Los Angeles with a difficult background be given this much benefit of a doubt?
Back to Helter Skelter and discussions about Polanski’s character and perhaps his ability to manipulate others. The transcript of a polygraph exam given to Polanski a week after his wife’s murder in August 1969 offers the following exchanges:
Q [Examiner Lt. Earl Deemer]: Mind if I call you Roman? My name is Earl.
A [Polanski]: Sure … I will lie one or two times during it, and I will tell you after, OK?
Q: Well—all right …
Deemer asks Polanski about how he met Sharon to put him at ease. He mentioned his prowess with women, several times calling himself a “swinger” who was not interested in a long-term relationship. Questioning then proceeds to questioning requiring a yes or no answer only.
Q: “Do you have a valid California driver’s license?”
A: Yes.
Q: Have you eaten lunch today?
A: No.
Q: Do you know who took the life of Voytek and the others?
A: No.
Q: Do you smoke cigarettes?
A: Yes.
Polanski then begins to laugh and Deemer says:
“You know what you are going to do with that screwing around? I’m going to have to start all over again. Look at the increase in your blood pressure when you start to lie about your cigarettes. Boom, boom, boom, just like a staircase.”
Deemer was satisfied that Polanski had nothing to do with the murders.
At the end of the interview, Polanski stood up, lit a cigarette and left. Deemer said, “Hey, I thought you didn’t smoke cigarettes!” [from Helter Skelter, p. 92–97]
In my opinion, that means take anything Roman Polanski says with a grain of salt. He fooled a polygraph, he certainly could fool a probation officer or charm some psychiatrists, psychiatric workers and corrections officers while undergoing the psychological exam. He is described in Helter Skelter as arrogant or charming, setting off strong emotions in everyone he met (p. 54).
Is he remorseful about his poor decision where Samantha was concerned? Perhaps. But perhaps he was more remorseful about how raping a 13-year old girl, no matter how willing, would reflect on his ability to work in the less sexually permissive, but no doubt more financially lucrative and prestigious United States-based film industry?
So he ran to the waiting arms of permissive mother France.
Rape is rape, a 13-year old cannot consent to sexual intercourse according to the law, either in 1977 or in 2009. Yes cannot mean yes, and no always means no. At minimum, Polanski needs to answer to charges of unlawful sex with a person under the age of 14 and failure to appear in court in Los Angeles County. Let the chips fall where they may, and let a judge or jury decide. A note to LA County prosecutors: The world is watching, and most likely won't accept the "It was a different time in 1977" when deciding what to do in this case.
Plea transcript (which makes clear that no sentence had yet been bindingly agreed upon)


Nora said...

I can sum up all of this with two words - disgusting and disgraceful. Vanadder's words make me want to puke.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of something I read in a book titled, "The Victims," which was about the 1963 Career Girl Murders in Manhattan. It was mentioned in the book that police officers and detectives are deferential toward wealthy people and celebrities. You see this again and again when you study criminal cases.

David From TN

ritanita said...

I've now had a chance to read everything you've written about Polanski.

I remember at the time this occurred, I was shocked. This was not something one heard about back in the day. I remember Polanski supporters back then were saying what they are saying now. They believed that Polanski's only misdeed was to behave like a typical Frenchman on American soil. The portrayal of Samantha was that she must have been somewhat of a willing partner.

I believed at the time that he should be dealt the full weight of American justice. I believe the same today.

At the very least, the process should take up where it left off so many years ago.

Karen said...

Here's a possible explanation of the confusion about who let her in the house: Huston has told or tells the caretaker to let the guest in, and perceives this as herself "letting" her in, and this is accepted by everyone there as such. She is after all Hollywood Royalty... a type of Royal "We" perhaps involved, I think.

I think it's Probation Officer Fare's statements that are REALLY disgusting- what's with this Italian Renaissance crap? "Chinatown" is surely one of the greatest American films made (all this has never kept me from enjoying it after repeated viewings over the years), but, YOICKS- what a pile of bat guano from that guy!

Jesdamala said...

There only one 'victim' here, a 13 year old girl, who wasoffered up by her mother and family, untentionally. Who let them, meaning Polanski and Samantha, into the house, to me, doesn't matter, unless they are considered vitnesses. And did the withheld infomation? Who knows, seems that there was enough privacy to allow Polanski his seduction.

I don't see Angelica Houston chiming in on this one, nor Jack.

More curious to me, is why this particular girl? He was a 'star' in Hollywood in those days, a tragic figure, and could have any number of women or even girls offered up by their parent, or any willing of age starlets. Why Samantha? Something we will never know. Something sinister, obviously, in his seduction of such a young girl, with a mother who wanted some kind of fame, for herself perhaps, or her daughter, but honestly, there were hundreds of mothers/girls out there just like her.

Polanski could not have been starved for sex at that point in his life, or probably ever after.

Just musing....

Anonymous said...

Hey hey, everyone stop insulting the French. They are the nubmer one holder of nobel prizes in literature and the birthplace of modern art (which started with impressionism). They have class, whereas half the world thinks America is a country of hicks. Americans would be better off with half the dignity of the Europeans.

What Roman Polanski did is wrong, but lay off the French.

Anonymous said...

Jesdamala, I, for one, do not believe that this was his one and only underage victim. I think this was probably the only one that told. I don't think he singled her out specifically, she was just there. MOO

Nora said...

Oh geez....Roman Polanski remained at a medical center in Zurich, Switzerland, this morning, a day after being taken out of his prison cell for an undisclosed medical condition.

"All I know is that he has been taken from prison for medical attention. I don't know where he is or when he will be returned to prison," the director's attorney, Herve Temime, told Reuters news agency.

Temime told Swiss papers last week that Polanski was depressed and in an "unsettled state of mind" behind bars.

Wonder if he will mysteriously vanish?

Nora said...

Director Roman Polanski has lost an appeal to be freed from a Swiss prison ahead of his possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

The Swiss Criminal Court today said that releasing Polanski on bail or under house arrest posed a high risk of flight.

The court said Polanski can appeal the verdict to Switzerland's highest tribunal. He can also continue attempts to persuade the Swiss Justice Ministry to release him.

[LA Times, source]