Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Polanski: The Extradition Question Again

Poland Revives Effort to Extradite Roman Polanski

LONDON — The Polish government said on Tuesday that it would revive an effort to extradite the filmmaker Roman Polanski, whom the American authorities have wanted for decades, after he fled over a 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The announcement is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle that, at least in Poland, seemed to have ended.

On Oct. 30, a judge in Krakow, Poland, ruled that turning over Mr. Polanski would be an "obviously unlawful" deprivation of liberty and that the state of California was unlikely to provide humane conditions of confinement for the filmmaker, who is 82. The next month, the Krakow prosecutor's office said it would abide by the judge's ruling.

But in a statement on Tuesday, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who is also Poland's chief prosecutor, said he had decided to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, calling the trial judge's decision a "serious breach" of the extradition agreement between the United States and Poland.

Mr. Ziobro did not cite the judge, Dariusz Mazur, by name, but he said the judge had "assessed the gathered evidence in a biased and selective way." Mr. Ziobro added that Mr. Polanski's crimes were subject to a statute of limitations in the United States.

The justice minister also said he disagreed with the judge's decision that Mr. Polanski had effectively already been punished. Mr. Polanski spent 42 days in jail before fleeing the United States in 1978, and he was held in Switzerland from 2009 to 2010, before the Swiss government declined to extradite him.

The detention in Switzerland was "a consequence of his escape abroad from American justice and avoiding criminal liability, not a punishment for a crime of which he is accused," the minister said.

Mr. Ziobro said he also found "incomprehensible" the Krakow judge's comments that Mr. Polanski would face inhumane or degrading treatment if extradited to the United States.

The practical implications for the filmmaker, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, were not clear.

Mr. Polanski has been working on a film in Poland about Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army captain who was wrongly convicted of spying for Germany in 1894. Last week, Mr. Polanski appeared at a news conference in Katowice, Poland, with the French composer Alexandre Desplat, who has written the scores for several of Mr. Polanski's films.

Jan Olszewski, a lawyer for Mr. Polanski, told the Polish television network TVN24 that the announcement was not a surprise. "We had been expecting the minister to do it," he said.

"We are not pondering here the question of whether Polanski is guilty or not — the judge was very clear in this regard," he added. "We are discussing whether Roman Polanski can be extradited. These are two different things."

Several institutional and political changes have occurred in Poland since the Krakow court's ruling. In November, a government led by the right-wing Law and Justice Party, which swept parliamentary elections, took office.

The party has moved Poland to the right and taken steps to curb judicial and news media independence, alarming European Union leaders, who say the shift might violate the democratic norms of the 28-nation bloc.

The party is known for its law-and-order approach, and for its appeal to Roman Catholic and nationalist voters.

Mr. Ziobro, who became justice minister in November, has consolidated power, and regional prosecutors like the one in Krakow now report to him.

In his statement, Mr. Ziobro suggested that his decision was not politically motivated. He noted that his predecessor as chief prosecutor, Andrzej Seremet, requested a review of the Krakow court's ruling in December, with an eye toward a possible appeal.

Mr. Polanski was arrested in 1977 on charges that included the rape of a teenage girl at the home of the actor Jack Nicholson.

He fled the United States the next year on the eve of sentencing, after learning that the trial judge in California, Laurence J. Rittenband, had decided to revise a plan to limit his sentence to a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, a portion of which Mr. Polanski had already served in a state prison.

In 2009, a California appeals court panel suggested that Mr. Polanski could be sentenced in absentia, opening the way to a possible resolution of the standoff.

Under that proposal, Mr. Polanski would be sentenced to time served, but the plan was rejected by the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

After the unsuccessful effort to have Mr. Polanski extradited from Switzerland, where he was arrested while at a film festival, the United States Department of Justice asked Poland in December 2014 for help in extraditing Mr. Polanski.

Mr. Ziobro, in his statement on Tuesday, took pains to recite the serious crimes for which Mr. Polanski was convicted, including sex with the 13-year-old, who was under the influence of alcohol and methaqualone, a sedative.

In a 2013 memoir, the victim, Samantha Geimer, said she had forgiven Mr. Polanski and moved on with her life.

During the court proceedings in Krakow, two of Mr. Polanski's defense lawyers, Mr. Olszewski and Jerzy Stachowicz, repeatedly cited the 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which suggested prosecutorial overreach and judicial misconduct by officials in the United States.

They argued that extraditing Mr. Polanski would violate the European Convention on Human Right and his right to a fair trial.

The 50th Anniversary of the Church of Satan

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle's website on the 50th anniversary of Anton La Vey's  Church of Satan.  The text of the article has been copied and pasted but go to the site and scroll through the images.  There are a few of La Vey that have rarely been seen, with hair!!!


When The Devil Lived in the Richmond
By Mike Moffitt

Witches, warlocks, devil worshippers and underworld spawn, raise your goblets, for today, April 30, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan in San Francisco.

Anton Szandor LaVey, a Marin County high school dropout turned carny turned spiritual leader, would not have characterized his flock as Hell's minions, of course. His religion was a rejection of all religions, a celebration of Man as "a carnal beast living in a cosmos that is indifferent to our existence."

For a short while in San Francisco in the late 1960s, LaVey's self-promoting
meld of pagan hedonism and hucksterism made him a nationally known cult figure.
At 16, Howard Stanton Levey — the name he was given at birth — dropped out of Tamalpais High to join the circus. He purportedly was hired by the Clyde Beatty Circus as a cage boy, feeding the big cats and then graduating to performing magic and hypnosis tricks, and playing the calliope. The tutelage under the big top served him well.

The source of his cynicism

As LaVey's musical skills improved, he began playing piano for the Saturday night burlesque sideshows and, to make some extra cash, Sunday morning tent-revival services. He would later say that seeing the same men at both events fueled his cynicism for organized religion.

James Lewis' reference work
"Satanism Today" notes that LaVey "became well-versed in the many rackets to separate the rubes from their money," a talent shared by many Bible thumpers and TV evangelists.
Most Christian denominations did not possess LaVey's gift for showmanship, however, nor did they use bare-breasted "witches" to fill the pews, a strategy that helped LaVey establish his church in its early days.

LaVey supposedly gave up a brief career in the '50s as a forensic photographer with the San Francisco police although there are no records of his employment with the SFPD. He claimed to have studied criminology at San Francisco City College in order to avoid the draft during the Korean War — but there are no records verifying that either.
What is not disputed is his interest in the supernatural. He began holding Friday night lectures on occult practices and gained a modest following.

The story goes that on Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night), April 30, 1966, he shaved his head (keeping his signature goatee) "in the tradition of the ancient executioners," and founded his church. Walpurgisnacht dates back to a 17th-century German tradition in which sorcerers and witches would gather on the eve of May Day.

However, the site
Satanism Central, says the church was actually founded in the summer of 1966 as a "business and publicity vehicle" and that LaVey actually shaved his head on a lighthearted dare by his wife.

LaVey's headquarters were his small Victorian house in the Richmond District. He painted it entirely black, which must have overjoyed the neighbors.

Black was also the preferred color of his wardrobe. He wore black ropes with pointed collars and a black cape, an outfit he often accessorized with a kitschy devil's horns headdress and medallions.

The bizarre baptism of his daughter

Inside the sinister house at 6114 California St., LaVey presided over his Black Mass rituals with nude women liberally sprawled over the fixtures. One such naked acolyte — an attractive 30-year-old priestess breathing heavily — draped herself over the altar at highly publicized 1967 baptism of LaVey's 4-year-old daughter, Zeena, while the proud papa intoned, "Hail Satan!"

Baptisms have rarely caused such a fuss. The unholy sacrament triggered a media uproar reaching as far as Europe. Allegations of child abuse followed.

The late '60s was a time of upheaval in America. Young Americans were rebelling against the Vietnam War and the military industrial complex, organized religion and the puritanical sexual mores of the '50s. Only weeks earlier a Time magazine cover piece had asked, "Is God Dead?" Conditions were perfect for an alternative church embracing free sex and self-indulgence sanctioned as supernatural worship.

Former members said the church hosted orgies, but, as Helen O'Hara writes in the Telegraph, "It wasn't just the nudity that attracted newcomers.

"As with many religions the congregants would plead for intercession, wishing calamity on an enemy or rival, or attempting to invoke financial or sexual success. The crowd tended to be young, well-heeled and curious, as with other new religions growing at the time."

Sammy Davis Jr. goes to an orgy

LaVey's unholy house of worship was also drawing Hollywood's attention. Sammy Davis Jr. was introduced to the Church of Satan at an orgy party, which he later described as "dungeons and dragons and debauchery." After Davis starred in an ill-fated sitcom called "Poor Devil" — a sort of "It's a Wonderful Life" in reverse, the church awarded him the title of Warlock II, which may be akin to Angel Second Class.

Fifties blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who supposedly shared an interest in the supernatural, met LaVey at his home while attending the San Francisco Film Festival in 1966. He was immediately smitten. He showed her some of his black magic trinkets and invited the actress to be his high priestess.

LaVey traveled to Hollywood in 1967 for a photo shoot with Mansfield during which he hung her certificate of church membership in her bedroom. Whether she was an eager recruit or just desperately seeking publicity to jump-start her career, which was in free-fall by the mid-'60s, is not clear. The latter seems more likely.

His small role in 'Rosemary's Baby'

LaVey claimed that Roman Polanski cast him to play Satan himself in the rape scene of the 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby," Polanski's version of Ira Levin's book. The role was not credited but it fueled curiosity in the Church of Satan. The Catholic Decency League condemned the film, which no doubt helped it become a box-office hit.

Buoyed by the success of the film, LaVey suddenly found himself in great demand. Everyone from reporters to occultists wanted to interview "Black Pope," as the Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times called him. But his big moment in the limelight was short-lived.
A year later, Manson Family members murdered Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring.

Sebring had been a member of the church roughly at the same time as Davis and was the singer's stylist. And one of the Manson murderers, Sharon Atkins, had performed as a "blood-swilling vampire" in the LaVey show "Witches' Sabbath" prior to joining Charles Manson's cult.

While people could accept or even embrace LaVey portraying a rapist Beelzebub in a movie, his ties to the Manson murders were disturbing, if not revolting. Suddenly his brand of libertine fun was tainted by one of the most horrific crimes of the century. It was an association he could never live down.

LaVey's dark star began a long, slow decline that occasional talk show gigs couldn't reverse. Even welcoming rock star Marilyn Manson into the fold in the early '90s didn't help much.

Besides, he despised rock 'n' roll — even satanic metal he found distasteful. Instead, he favored romantic tunes of the 1940s.
San Francisco's "Father of Satanism" died of pulmonary edema on Oct. 29, 1997, ironically in St. Mary's Medical Center, which was the closest hospital.

The Church of Satan lives on. It's now headquartered in New York's Hell's Kitchen, led by High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, who has wisely downplayed the Lucifer horns, forked tails and other campy paraphernalia of his predecessor.

The fate of the Black House

As for the Dark Lord's den of iniquity in the Richmond? It fell on hard times.

Chronicle reporter Don Lattin visited the neglected house 15 months after LaVey's death. He wrote:
"Today, the property at 6114 California St. looks like the Addams Family home after a Saturday night frat party. Smashed furniture and a soiled mattress lay amid a mountain of garbage in the small front yard, behind a tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

"Adding insult to injury, some blasphemous graffiti artist has scrawled the words "Jesus Rulz" on the mail slot."
Eventually the property was sold, and LaVey's Victorian temple of sin bulldozed. Today, a bland apartment building painted avocado and trimmed in white stands at the site.

You'd never know that it was once the Devil's address.

FWIW I do not believe that Jay Sebring was ever a member of the Church of Satan.