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CNN Larry King Live
Interview with Rudy Giuliani; Roman Polanski Case Goes Before Judge
Aired January 06, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Rudy Giuliani. He saw New York through a terror attack that brought America's biggest city to its knees. How does he think President Obama is handling the crisis that confronts America today? He is here to tell us.
And then, the Roman Polanski rape case back before a judge today. The victim wants the charges against him dismissed. We have all the latest and all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. He sought the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008. Lots to talk about. What about, you are not going to run for governor, you are going to run for Senate? What is next for you?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK: What is next for me is continuing to build my two businesses, Giuliani Partners and Bracewell & Giuliani. I'm involved with a security consulting company. We're doing security, various parts of the world. And a worldwide law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani. I'm very busy, having a great time and not the time to leave, too many things going on.
KING: Might you consider it sometime down the road?
GIULIANI: Yeah, sure, sure. You never know. Life is -- what I found is life changes and politics changes. And who knows what is going on happen. But right now I am involved in so many things. We are getting involved in doing security for the Olympics and the World Cup in Brazil, a bunch of other projects like that in other parts of the world. I'm involved with my firm in a lot of cases. I'm very active and I'm enjoying myself which is the most important thing in life, right?
KING: You're not kidding. All right, let's get to things current. The Detroit terror suspect indicted today. Liz Cheney and some other Republicans say he should be classifieds an enemy combatant before a military tribunal. Now you were a prosecutor. What do you think of trying him in the criminal courts?
GIULIANI: Well, I don't think it's really a question of trying him so much as the opportunity that was lost. I think the president made a very big mistake in not making him an enemy combatant because the minute you make him a criminal justice defendant, you cut off the ability to really question him. In fact, as far as I know, I don't know the inside story here, he went talking until he went out and got him a lawyer, cut him off from talking.
You want to talk to this guy for about a month. You want to keep him an enemy combatant for about a month or two to get all the intelligence he is willing to give you because that intelligence could be about other possible attacks on the United States.
And I really believe the president and Attorney General Holder really should rethink this. They should really rethink this rigid commitment to the criminal justice system. After all, this guy came from outside the country. What he was planning was an attack on America. This is a war-like act. He should not be treated like a domestic criminal.
KING: Can you later treat someone as a military combatant and then later try them criminally?
GIULIANI: You can do anything you want. The Justice Department could move him around in all different ways. The reality is, in this particular case, he should have been treated as an enemy combatant.
After all, the president and the attorney general have authorized military tribunals. Now if you are going to have military tribunals and you're going to try some people in a military tribunal, somebody who comes to the United States with a bomb to blow up an airplane in one of our cities, should be treated as a wartime criminal, not like a domestic criminal. That may be an academic dispute for some people. But here is the difference. If you treat him as a criminal justice defendant, you cannot question him the same way as you can question him if he's an enemy combatant. And we want to know, I'd like to know everything he knows. I'd like us to have the benefit. And he sounds like somebody that you could crack pretty easily. It sounded like he wanted to talk and we cut it off.
KING: What did you make of the president's strong statement yesterday of security measures and the like and tightening them up?
GIULIANI: I think the president has to make a major correction in the way he is dealing with terrorism because I think he has mishandled the situation. First of all, it was 10 days too late. This is something you react to immediately, not 10 days later after your vacation. The president of the United States, when there is a potential massive attack on this country, which is what this guy was going to do, should have been on top of this immediately, not 10 days later, 11 days later, 12 days later.
We should have had our response ready. After all, this is not an unexpected act. We are in the age of terrorism. We don't need 10 days to respond or figure out our response. All that does, I believe, is convince our enemies that we are not ready, that we are pondering too much and thinking too much. So, you know, there is -- you want to take some time. But this has been an extraordinarily long time given the magnitude of this kind of attack.
KING: President Bush took six days once in a similar incident.
GIULIANI: Well, six days is less than 10. And the reality is that President Bush was criticized for taking -- what was it, like 20 or 30 minutes in delaying his response to September 11th. And I believe that six days was before the September 11th attack.
I think one of the things that I note about the administration, that I believe there's time for them to change this. I mean, President Kennedy famously by his own admission mishandled the Bay of Pigs early on in his presidency and learned from it.
I hope the president has the whatever leadership qualities or whatever to learn from the mistakes that he has made in the way that he has handled this. He delayed too long in responding to it. His response has been too tentative.
The reality is the very first descriptions by the administration were entirely inaccurate, including the suggestion that everything worked which doesn't give people a lot of confidence. Maybe from now on, there will be a quicker response and a more accurate one.
KING: Bush waited six days on the shoe bomber.
GIULIANI: That's correct.
KING: Do you think heads should roll here Rudy or is it too soon?
GIULIANI: That is up for the president to decide. I don't know enough of the internal situation here to tell you that people deliberately missed things or they mishandled things, and it looks like they did. But I can't tell you which ones. I think the president has got to take the responsibility for his own response, which has been very much delayed and extremely tentative. There is enough time for anybody in Yemen who might think that we are going to respond to it to go somewhere else by now. It's been a long time to deal with it.
KING: All right how about since 9/11, we have been talking about both administrations connecting the dots. We still haven't really put it all together in all honest, right, Rudy?
GIULIANI: Well we haven't, no. It's clear from both the Ft. Hood attack and this attack, there is something seriously wrong here. And here I would say, this is not in any way a criticism of just this administration. This is an enormously complex thing to do. And we haven't gotten it right yet. We haven't given it enough priority to the correct situation. Now, it may seem easier in retrospect to kick them out. It's easier once somebody is caught with one of these bombs or somebody runs into Ft. Hood and starts killing people to figure it out.
But when you see what was available on both of these people, the guy in Ft. Hood clearly should have been somebody that should have been thrown out of the army a long time before he ever had access to the base and this guy never should have been allowed on the airplane. And you wonder what the heck is going on that we can't spot these things.
KING: Former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, we will talk about Sarah Palin, the future of his party and more, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF BALLOON BOY: This was not a hoax. We had searched the house high and low. And --
FALCON HEENE, BALLOON BOY: we did this for the show.
KING: You're swearing that none of that was staged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I want to remind you that Richard Heene, the father who led the whole country to believe his son was trapped in a runaway balloon, will be here Friday night, his first interview since he was sentenced to jail. He says it wasn't a hoax. That's Friday night's LARRY KING LIVE.
Our guest is Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mayor, a study out of Duke University released today says that the threat posed by radicalized Muslim Americans has been exaggerated. Do you favor profiling?
GIULIANI: Well, you know, it depends on how you define profiling. You profile when you make a logical deduction about who the suspect is. If somebody calls me up and tells me that a person who just committed the crime is a 6'2" blonde guy, well then you look for 6'2" blond guys. And if you get a thousand reports like that, those are the people that you look for. So of course, you have to profile in the sense that you have to some criteria for what you're looking for. And if in fact, the major threat that is occurring comes from misguided, perverted Muslims, meaning people who are perverting the religion, then there is nothing wrong with putting more attention on that area than some other area. Otherwise, you're wasting a lot of resources and a lot of time. So it depends on whether the profiling is rationally based or its based on some kind of an unfair prejudice.
KING: And could that be a delicate line though?
GIULIANI: It is a delicate line. But if you take away the ability to use rational analysis for determining where the threats are coming from, you are putting yourself in great danger. I mean, the reality is, if in fact the threat is 90 percent coming from one area, and roughly 90 percent of your attention should be in that area. That isn't prejudice. That is rational sensible reaction to a set of facts and leads you in that direction. You couldn't solve any crimes unless you did that.
KING: The Justice Department has decided to try the accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in New York City. Let's listen to what the president said and I'll have you comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice. The American people will insist on it and my administration will insist on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now Rudy, that's your city. You have tried cases there. They know how to do it in New York.
GIULIANI: They sure do.
KING: What are you concerned about?
GIULIANI: I think this could be one of the worst mistakes that any president has ever made.
GIULIANI: Well first of all, he has military tribunals for other terrorists. If you are going to have military tribunals, then they obviously also can provide justice.
KING: If the crime was committed there, wouldn't you feel that all the people who lost relatives want that man tried in their city on their territory?
GIULIANI: Actually Larry, most of those people, not all, you never have all -- most of those people would rather see him tried in a military court. So the president didn't take their wishes into consideration. There is no question it adds a level of threat to New York, not the only kind of threat New York has, a tremendous burden. The mayor is asking for a significant amount of money to have to deal with this. I had to close down New York when we had similar trials when I was the mayor and it cost me a lot of time, a lot of attention.
And the reality is you're also by using this method, cutting yourself off from getting intelligence like he has done with the situation in Detroit. So I think is one of the big mistakes he has made. And the reality is, both he and the attorney general have already announced that this guy is guilty and I think one of them has said he's probably going to get executed.
So I mean, I don't know what they are talking about in terms of a fair trial. And I don't know what happens if he gets acquitted. The president of the United States can't be saying to the world, we're going to give him a fair trial, but he's going to get convicted.
So if we're doing this for public relations and creating these burdens on ourselves, I don't see why we want to do that. This man organized an attack from outside the United States on the United States. It was an attack very much like Pearl Harbor and nobody would have ever thought of prosecuting the people who attacked Pearl Harbor in a civilian court. President Lincoln didn't do that. President Roosevelt didn't do that, President Bush didn't do that. I don't know why President Obama wants to do that.
KING: Back with Rudy Giuliani in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Back with Rudy Giuliani. The president is fighting two wars, trying to keep the country safe at home. What kind of message does it send when the former vice president openly says that he is not seriously fighting the war? Do you think it's a good idea what Dick Cheney did?
GIULIANI: You know, Larry, nobody was really concerned about that when everybody criticized President Bush day in and day out including Democrats calling him all kinds of names when he was trying to prosecute the war in Iraq. And the reality is, that's just part of the First Amendment, part of debate. Vice President Cheney is entitled to his view. I share some of them. I don't share all of them.
My hope is -- and I really mean this. I hope that this administration does a mid-course correction much like President Clinton did, which I always thought essentially showed President Clinton's practicality in terms of being fair. I think he has gone way too far to the left, President Obama. President Clinton had some of those problems early in his administration. He made a mid-course correction and then accomplished a lot of good things -- welfare reform, other things like that, criminal justice reform.
I hope President Obama is in a learning process and we see a change for the good of the country. Forget partisan politics. I would like to see him reverse his decision on the trial in New York. And I would like to him treat these people who are trying to attack this country as enemy combatants so that we can get the maximum amount of information out of them. If he made corrections like that, I think that would show great leadership.
KING: You are in the security business. What do you make of the Newark airport, right next door to you, the breach last Sunday. We now learned that cameras were running, but they weren't recording. The TSA takes full responsibility. How do they let that happen?
GIULIANI: You know, these things happen and they shouldn't happen and we need a lot more concentration on it. And you know, I think maybe one of the good things that can come out of the situation that just happened in Detroit, which thank God didn't involve the loss of life is this can act as a wake-up call for us. We've become too lackadaisical since September 11th.
The threat to this country is just as great now as it was then. September 11 is not part of our history yet. It's still part of present. The same forces that wanted to attack us then, ideological misperceptions that were present then are present now. And we have got to invest a lot of our time and effort in making ourselves secure and you know, I think maybe we have become a little too lackadaisical, which may account for not connecting some of the dots for some of these mistakes that are occurring.
KING: When we come back, we'll ask Rudy Giuliani about guess what, politics. Don't be shocked. Don't go away, we'll be right back.
KING: Let's get into some politics with Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. What do you make of Chris Dodd bowing out today?
GIULIANI: Well I guess it sounds to me like he's doing that probably for the good of the party, since they think they have a stronger candidate. Of course, I hope that gives us an opportunity, meaning the Republicans, to pick up a seat in Connecticut. I think the opportunity is out there for Republicans in this election year, are pretty darn good. You see all these Democrats resigning, opening up seats. An open seat is always easier to take than an incumbent seat. So who knows what it's going to be like in November. But right now, as a Republican, I'm feeling pretty good about the pickups that we can make this year.
KING: And Byron Dorgan also will not run.
GIULIANI: Yes, there's another one. I think that may be an example of what the president having pushed the agenda a little too far to the left, which is what I was saying before. We'll have to see if the president makes a correction or not because he is putting a lot of these seats, it seems to me, he's putting them in jeopardy, particularly in the House where you have a lot of Democrats sitting in districts that were Republican districts up until the last election or the one before that.
KING: All right, now your own party. Is Sarah Palin viable in the face of your party now?
GIULIANI: Sure. Gosh, who knows three years before a presidential election who the face of our party is. Sarah Palin is extremely popular, she's extremely articulate. She's somebody who's run for vice president and she has the right to make her case to the Republican Party, which will all happen after 2010.
But she certainly generates an enormous amounts of enthusiasm. Larry, I took her a baseball game last year. Judith and I took her to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, which you know is Democratic territory and she got an absolutely great response. Everybody wanted to take a -- even the Democrats wanted to take pictures with her.
KING: It's a good sign. There is a "New York Times" report today that Democrat Harold Ford was moved to New York. Maybe will run the primary against the senator who replaced Hillary Clinton. Now we know that you can come into New York and win. Hillary Clinton, Robert Kennedy and others. Can Harold Ford be a viable New York candidate?
GIULIANI: I know Harold and I see him quite a bit at different things. New York is a place where we have a history like that. If we were talking about some other state, I would say that is a tough thing to do. It's a tough thing to come in and at least immediately run for the Senate. You can't run for governor in New York, you have to have a five-year residency. But you can run for the Senate. But gosh, I guess in New York, anything is possible.
KING: Why didn't you run for governor?
GIULIANI: I didn't want to leave my business and law firm right now. I took a lot of time off to run for president. A lot of things got disorganized. I put them back together. We are in the middle of and on the verge of doing a lot of exciting things like the thing in Brazil. My firm has grown. I started the New York office of Bracewell & Giuliani four years ago and it's gone from three lawyers to 70.
And we are continuing to grow. So this wasn't the right time to do it. It creates a tremendous amount of disruption in your business life. And I guess, I was enthusiastic about what I was doing. But that doesn't mean I'm not tremendously interested, I'm not going to help Republicans to the extent that they want my help and that I'm not going to be involved in all these issues because they are part of me.
KING: Republicans are constantly accused by the other side of being only negative. So tell me something you like about the president.
GIULIANI: Well I like the fact that he dealt with Afghanistan in the right way. I think that he had a tough choice to make. I did think he took a little too long in make, but that may be his decision style. But I support his realization and his acting on this campaign promise to make Afghanistan a priority.
I respect him as a leader. I think he has got enormous abilities to communicate. I wish he would use it for purposes that I agree with more. I hope -- and this I don't know about him because I don't know Barack Obama personally. I don't know the balance between ideology and practicality.
I worked for Ronald Reagan and Ronald Reagan is often described as a highly ideological, very right wing. Ronald Reagan was one of the most practical people I ever met and had an understanding that if you can get half a loaf, it's better than getting nothing. If you can get 60 percent or 70 percent, you probably won. You rarely get 100 percent.
I hope Barack Obama has that same capacity to readjust himself and having gone what I regard as too far to the left.
KING: One other thing, Rudy. How do you regard your old foe Senator Clinton as secretary of state?
GIULIANI: Well, I admire the job that she's doing. It's a very difficult job particularly for someone who has run for president, run against Barack Obama. I think she is doing -- from what I can tell, I don't know the internals of what goes on there, I think she is doing a good job. I've disagreed with Hillary Clinton quite often, but I have tremendous respect for her.
KING: Always good to see you, Rudy, we'll see you in New York.
GIULIANI: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.
The Roman Polanski case is back in court today. We've got an update next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roman was already an established film director. Everybody knew him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the Roman Polanski.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The future was hit, he thought. And then everything just collapsed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't perceive having intercourse with a 13-year-old girl as against the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of Polanski leaving the country seems to have eclipsed what happened to the system of justice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was a clip from the HBO documentary "Roman Polanski, Wanted And Desired." Polanski, the 76-year-old movie director still a wanted man. He pled guilty in August of 1967 to having unlawful sex with a then 13-year-old girl. He was 43 at the time. Prosecutors in LA dropped the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. He fled the United States before sentencing and is currently in Switzerland under house arrest.
Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, was on the show in 2003, and here is what she had to say then about Polanski and his possible jail time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In retrospect, would you have been upset at the plea bargain to time served? In other words, Roman Polanski goes free after 45 days?
SAMANTHA GEIMER, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY POLANSKI: We were -- everybody was really comfortable with that.
KING: Your mother was happy with it?
GEIMER: I never even asked him to be put in jail.
KING: Your father was happy with it?
GEIMER: I don't know about that. I didn't talk with him about it.
KING: You don't think he deserved more time in jail.
GEIMER: No, and the publicity was so traumatic and horrible that his punishment was secondary to just getting this whole thing to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Others will join us later. We begin with Lawrence Silver. Larry is the attorney for Samantha Geimer, Polanski's rape victim. He and his client want the case against Roman Polanski dismissed. What happened in court today?
LAWRENCE SILVER, ATTORNEY FOR POLANSKI'S VICTIM: What happened today was that Polanski asked that, consistent with what the court of appeal had suggested in their December decision, that he be sentenced in absentia, and that will allow a hearing on the allegations pretty well established by the documentary that there was judicious, as well as prosecutorial impropriety.
KING: So they're asking -- they sentence him to a year, tow years, three years, whatever, while he is not there.
SILVER: To sentence him absentia. One of the arguments, I suspect, is that he's already been sentenced and that this judge should merely confirm the sentence which was reached.
KING: What did this judge rule today?
SILVER: He ordered briefing on the issue and set a hearing for January 22nd.
KING: What does your client want?
SILVER: My client wants the case over. She has been enduring 32 years of relatively intense press coverage and interference with an effort to put this behind her and get it behind her. After 32 years, I think she is entitled to that.
KING: Since she is the victim, why isn't she almost automatically acquiesced to? Don't they listen to her?
SILVER: Apparently not.
KING: Do you make an argument?
SILVER: I have argued before the trial court and the court of appeal that the matter should be dismissed. He was supposed to be sentenced to time served, then the judge changed his mind, frankly, because of concerns of how the press would view him. And then, as a result, Polanski fled. And it's been just a long period of time for her to endure and her family to endure the pendancy of this case.
Had it been someone else, perhaps, it would have been gone and forgotten, probably except by her, but not because of the great publicity that this case seems to engender.
KING: Legally, Larry, what do you think is going to happen? SILVER: Well, the court of appeals is very strong about the fact that there ought to be a prompt and quick resolution of the matter. And the court of appeals was also strong that there ought to be a full hearing. And this plea or request to be sentenced in absentia should result in a hearing. And then the court can decide what to do as a result of what is clearly judicial impropriety, as well as prosecutorial impropriety.
KING: When come back, Larry Silver will be joined by Debra Tate, Roman Polanski's former sister in law, the sister of Sharon Tate, brutally murdered that night. Don't go away.
KING: Joining Lawrence Silver with us now is Debra Tate, Roman Polanski's former sister in law, the sister of the late Sharon Tate. On a persona note, I knew Sharon Tate. I had interviewed her a couple of months before her tragic murder. What do you want to see happen?
DEBRA TATE, FMR. SISTER IN LAW OF ROMAN POLANSKI: I would like to see this whole thing go away. I think that there has been a lot of time that has passed and we need to bring it to an end.
KING: Have you ever talked to Roman Polanski?
TATE: I have.
KING: How can you have a civil conversation with someone who so brutally murdered your sister?
TATE: Roman didn't murder my sister.
KING: I'm sorry. When the fact that he would have this terrible thing happen to him after the death of your sister, to once again focus you into the public light. That's what I meant.
TATE: I don't have any problems with Roman whatsoever. The actions that he took back then has logic that doesn't necessarily play out by the law, in my opinion. There are extenuating circumstances to this whole thing that have to do with legal improprieties. That is much bigger to me than the original offense.
KING: Did your sister love him?
KING: And he loved her.
KING: How was he doing when you spoke to him?
TATE: He was very concerned. He was very humble. He -- you know, he thinks that this is a tragic situation. Now he sees it a little differently perhaps. And that is purely my take on things. He didn't say it verbatim, but I could hear it in his voice. KING: Was there an age difference between Sharon and Roman?
TATE: Yes, there was.
KING: How much?
TATE: Ten years.
KING: That's light by his standards, because he's been married to his current wife for 21 years. I believe he met her when he was 15.
TATE: Fifteen, 16 Years old.
KING: He had a romantic relationship with Nastassja Kinski when she was 15.
TATE: That's correct.
KING: You think he has an attraction for younger women?
TATE: I think in France it's a normal way of life. It's very well known that it's a right of passage. Younger women with older men, older women with younger men.
KING: Do you understand why people might not look favorably on it?
TATE: I absolutely do understand. I am a victim's rights advocate, and I deal with a lot of women that have truly been raped. I do understand it completely.
But this is just slightly different. And it's not up to me to bring that to public light. But there are circumstances that make it ever so slightly different than a full rape.
KING: Do you know Samantha Geimer, Larry's client?
TATE: I have never met her. Never.
KING: What do you make of her feelings?
TATE: Her feelings I absolutely understand, 100 percent. She's a mother. She's got her own children. This has got to put her, at this point in time, in a very uncomfortable position at best. And I think that it's very inappropriate on behalf of the LA DA's office, who I work with often, to pursue this case, especially in this fiscal climate. Perhaps there is an end we can reach without spending two million dollars on a trial, which is what it would usually cost.
KING: Why do you think they are so intent on this, Lawrence?
SILVER: It's hard to figure. The prior prosecutor in the case certainly, Roger Gunson (ph), a really a wonderful human being, was quite understanding of the desire of my client and her family to end this thing, even back in 1977. And that intelligence hasn't passed on.
KING: Where were you the night Sharon was killed?
TATE: I was supposed to be at Sharon's house. But a phone call, circumstances changed, and I stayed at my mother's home.
KING: You never get over that.
TATE: Never. Actually, I've never -- I get victimized in way or another over and over and over again.
KING: Did you talk to Roman soon after that?
TATE: Absolutely. Roman and I remained very close for many, many years. We still are. I flew to London and testified in her majesty's high court against "Conde Nast Magazine." He won that. I went to Paris and spent some time with them. It's like time lapsed.
KING: Does she have a happy marriage now?
TATE: He has a wonderful wife, happy marriage. Beautiful, bright, brilliant children.
KING: We will be joined next segments by Robin Sax, the former county deputy district attorney, and the defense attorney Mark Geragos.
Before we go, a program note, Richard Heene must report to jail by Monday morning. He is talking to us on Friday night in his only interview since he was sentenced. He will tell us why his homemade balloon -- there you see it, he brought it to the studio -- sailed away from his backyard with his litter son, believed to be on board, was not a hoax.
That is Friday night. More from Samantha Geimer and others in 60 second.
KING: As we mentioned, Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, was on this show in 2003. I asked her about her feelings toward Roman Polanski. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Neither of you feel particularly angry with Roman Polanski.
GEIMER: No, not anymore, not even then. It's just -- I was angry because he was the cause of the publicity. And the publicity was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
KING: Not the sex.
GEIMER: The publicity was so terrible and immediate that it overshadowed everything that happened that night. KING: When you think back, did he know you were 13?
GEIMER: Yes, he did. I was almost 14, but I was 13. I think he knew how old I as.
KING: What do you think happened? Why do you think he did this?
GEIMER: I just think he used to like really young girls.
KING: You weren't the first?
GEIMER: I don't -- I don't though. No one else has spoken up and said anything. So I have to assume it was just me. But I think he was just using really bad judgment and went farther than he should go.
KING: If your sister hadn't overheard the conversation with your boyfriend, would we have ever heard the story?
GEIMER: No, I never would have told my mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our legal eagles, Mark Geragos and Robin Sax, are here. We will look at the case from opposing sides after the break.
KING: Lawrence Silver, the attorney for Samantha Geimer, and Debra Tate, Roman Polanski's former sister in law, remain with us. We are joined now by Robin Sax, former LA County deputy district attorney, author of, by the way, "It Happens Ever Day, Inside the World of a Sex Crimes DA." And the famed defense attorney Mark Geragos.
Robin, what do you want to see happen here?
ROBIN SAX, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think, as a prosecutor, I want to see this case get resolved, and get resolved once and for all. At this point, it's not about looking for additional time. It's looking for closing up the undone stuff of what happened many years ago.
KING: Couldn't the LA District Attorney's Office close it by just closing it?
SAX: It certainly can be closed by just closing it. It also can be closed by having Mr. Polanski sentenced. And I think the best deal for all would be to close it with the deal that was originally intended at the time of sentence. Not necessarily the deal that would happen now, either.
KING: What is wrong with that, Mark?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He is never coming here. We wrote an article about four months ago and predicted he'd be let out on electronic monitoring, that he would be at his chalet. The court of appeals here in California just gave the blueprint for how they're going to resolve this. Justice Zelim (ph) said sentence him in absentia, which you can do.
So they will sentence him in absentia. That gives the defense the right to bring up all the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. And then they can go from there. That will be the end of that. Much ado about nothing. And as the court of appeals justices said, one of the most sordid chapters in California jurisprudence can be brought to an end.
KING: Do you like that, Lawrence?
SILVER: Sounds good to me.
KING: Do you like it, Debra?
KING: Do you like it, Robin?
SAX: We are all agreeing. What we're basically all saying is let's leave the sentence as is, sentence him in absentia. It's not saying make the case ago. It's giving him the benefit of the bargain without the additional punishment for fleeing.
KING: What would the sentence be?
GERAGOS: Literally, it's a win-win for the DA. If this case comes back here --
KING: It is a conviction. We got that already.
GERAGOS: They get their sentencing. They don't have a conviction until he is sentenced, technically, under California law. It's not a conviction until he is sentenced for a lot of different purposes. But the fact is that they don't have to have all kinds of stuff exposed as to what went on, and have a lot of reputations tarnished.
SAX: I don't think that's what everybody's concerned about, in terms of the reputation tarnished. Everyone's reputation has already been tarnished and gone through the media. What it does is it doesn't put the victim back through the process. It keeps the sentence as is. And it allows the case to go away with a conviction.
KING: What does this say, though, to other rapists who rape young girls, like they say I want the --
GERAGOS: It says that they were better off in the '70s than they are today. And that's the truth. You would not --
KING: In the '70s, you could get away with it?
GERAGOS: The '70s it was a completely different milieu than it is today. SAX: The law is different. Now, the same crime, under the same circumstances, would be a mandatory life sentence if the allegations were proved. Absolutely right.
GERAGOS: Interestingly enough, in this state, recently, by initiative, we have passed another victims' bill of rights, where the victim is supposed to have input at the sentencing. Here you have the victim, Larry, telling them we don't want anything more to happen. Yet people are still arguing for something else. So there is kind of a schizophrenic nature to the public.
KING: Debra, you are involved with standing up for victims?
TATE: I am involved with standing up for victims.
KING: In this care, your brother-in-law caused the victim to be a victim?
TATE: To tell you the truth, Larry, I believe that at this point in time there are victims on both sides of the fence. There's victims in our -- in our legal system, that have been taken advantage of, on both sides. There are perpetrators. Who's wearing the white hats? Who's wearing the black hats? It is all mixed these days. It is getting unclearer.
KING: Comment, Robin?
SAX: I don't think that Polanski is a victim in this whole situation. I think the only people who have been victimized here is Samantha Geimer and the system. I think he is getting the benefit and could get the benefit of a great deal. Luckily for him, we do live in a state where the state actually cares about the victim's input. And that is critical.
GERAGOS: You can talk about that all day long, except the fact is if half of the allegations -- just half of the allegations are true as too what happened -- he is a victim. And the court of appeals spent 70 pages detailing the victimization.
KING: Be back with more.
KING: We're back. Larry, has your client been paid damages?
SILVER: We have -- there was a civil case and a settlement, which is confidential.
KING: Polanski settled?
SILVER: The case was settled.
KING: What do you know about his health, Debra? There are reports he is in ill health. TATE: He was not in good health in the beginning of this ordeal. But he is bouncing back ever so slightly. He is very concerned. And he is not taking this lightly, by any stretch of the imagination.
KING: Would he come back if this got cleared?
TATE: I can't say that. I would like him to come back. He is my -- basically my only family member left on Earth, other than my daughter. So, I would like him to come back, but I doubt it. I doubt it.
KING: You doubt it, too?
GERAGOS: I don't think he will ever come back. I think the only reason he ever wanted this cleared up is so he can travel in countries in Europe and the like, where he -- he wouldn't have a fear of doing what happened here.
KING: Was the deal made at the time, Robin, fair?
SAX: The deal at the time -- I can't speak for what would have happened and what the culture in the office was like at that time. I wasn't in the office at that time. But that kind of charge probably would not have settled like it did now. If that were the kind of case now, there is a presumption of prison whenever there a case of penetration. And then when there is drug use and someone under 14, you've got a situation where you have a strike under the California three strikes law, and a lot of bargaining chips on the prosecution's side.
So there wouldn't be a reason to give a deal like that, unless the victim wasn't going to cooperate.
GERAGOS: Back then, that wasn't highly unusual. I mean, that was -- given everything that surrounded that case at the time, Doug Dalton worked out a -- I thought a favorable deal. But it certainly wasn't off the charts.
KING: What, Larry, is the culture in that office now?
SILVER: I certainly don't know. In terms of the district attorney's office?
SILVER: I don't have a clue.
SAX: And that's what I just said, is that it would be prison sentence, very likely, in the office now, because it would have been a life crime. So if someone was facing 25 years to life mandatory, a three-year sentence wouldn't have been unusual or unheard of.
KING: The victim wouldn't have mattered?
SAX: The victim absolutely does matter. Under the penal code, the victim has a right and a say. But the victim at the time of prosecution, Samantha Geimer, was cooperative. So we would have to assume, at the time of prosecution now, she would be.
KING: Who in the populace is most upset, Debra, at the idea of Polanski getting some sort of deal? Is there still a large movement out there?
TATE: Evidently there is a very large movement. I catch a lot of riff for taking the position that I take. However, people weren't around at that time. I was. I do know the details and the circumstances, of which -- I'm not an attorney, so I'm not in that playing field.
But I do believe that there were exceptions that a fair court should take into consideration. And even as a victim's right advocate, I'm not necessarily in line with the current three strikes laws, the way they are, and so on and so forth. I think that we are definitely over-penalized in the state of California. And we need to recheck things.
Prison is -- incarceration is the number one business in the state of California now.
KING: Robin, want to comment on that?
SAX: Actually, in terms of laws across the state, California is on the lesser side of seriousness when it comes to sexual assault crimes, 261.5. This crime is still not a registered sex offense, where all over the country it would be a registered sex offense.
KING: Not a registered sex offense?
SAX: It is not a registerable sex offense. Actually, in terms of comparable law from state to state, California is pretty lenient in the sex crimes area.
GERAGOS: That is why we have the largest prison population in the world. It is nonsense. We have federal judges ordering the state to free 47,000 people. We have got the governors --
KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks, Larry. By the way, tune in for our exclusive interview with Richard Heene this Friday night. His home made balloon will be here, too. I'm not kidding. How anyone flew in it, I cannot imagine. What I can imagine is "AC 360" and Anderson Cooper. Anderson?