The organization that champions victims of predatory priests will stage a demonstration in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday to announce a boycott of the work of Roman Polanski and those who support his bid to avoid extradition to the United States.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, best known as SNAP, charged that entertainment industry figures speaking out for Polanski since his arrest in Switzerland Saturday are helping to enable the crimes of current child predators.
The 76-year-old Polish-French director was arrested by Swiss gendarmes at Zurich Airport as he flew in to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to have received a lifetime achievement award.
The arrest came in response to a warrant issued by U.S. federal authorities at the request of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
In 1977, when Polanski was 44, he lured a 13-year-old girl to actor Jack Nicholson's home on Mulholland Drive, saying he wanted to take photographs of her for the French edition of Vogue. He gave her champagne and part of a Quaalude and forced her to have sex.
After he spent 42 days in a prison hospital ward for a mental evaluation, a deal was worked out for him to plead guilty and be sentenced to time served. Polanski pleaded guilty, but, fearing that a judge was going to reject the deal and send him to prison for 50 years, he fled the country.
U.S. authorities have 60 days to file a formal request for extradition with Swiss authorities. Polanski's lawyers have vowed to oppose it.
Dozens in the film industry have called for Polanski's immediate release, including directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Costa- Gavras, Pedro Almodovar, Fatih Akin, Walter Salles and Wong Kar Wai, actress Debra Winger and producer Harvey Weinstein, founder of Miramax Films and now head of The Weinstein Co.
"Since his arrest and the announcement that he will be extradited to the U.S., some entertainment figures have expressed sympathy for him," SNAP said in a statement on the eve of Wednesday's late morning demonstration outside the District Attorney's Office.
"These public statements of support ... makes teenagers who are being victimized now feel intimidated and hopeless, thus staying silent and enabling their predators to keep hurting them and others."
SNAP said three or four victims of abuse by Catholic priests will take part in the demonstration, joined by relatives and other members of SNAP, which describes itself as a self-help organization.
The sign-carrying demonstrators, according to the statement, will "encourage all victims of sex abuse to come forward and report crimes, despite re-victimization by the Hollywood elite."
Many of Polanski's backers, including French government ministers, have pointed to the suffering in his life, including his family's persecution by the Nazis and the slaying of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and her fetus in the Manson Family murders.
"While sympathetic to Polanski's painful childhood and his wife's murder, SNAP feels that's irrelevant, as is is victim's personal decision to forgive him," the SNAP statement said.
"What matters most, SNAP feels, is that a child predator is kept away from kids and that criminals learn they can't simply hire smart lawyers, make themselves popular, flee the country and get off scot-free."
Polanski lawyers Tuesday filed papers with the Swiss Federal Criminal Court seeking his release, and the court said it would make a decision in the next few weeks. If it rules against him, he will have the option of asking Switzerland's highest court, the Federal Tribunal, to overturn the decision.
To date, the support for Polanski appears to have been more widespread in Europe than in the United States, where at least one entertainment industry figure has spoken out against him.
"Thirty years have not dimmed my memory of the crime for which this man was convicted," Paul Petersen, the former "Donna Reed Show" star and now president of A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit watchdog group for child performers, said in remarks published in the Daily News Tuesday.
"Hollywood may have forgiven Mr. Polanski," Peterson said. "I have not."