Salon, on the Roman Polanski arrest [this is Kate Harding, writing in a white-hot fury about Polanski's crimes]:
[E]veryone makes a bigger deal of her age than her testimony that she did not consent, because if she’d been 18 and kept saying no while he kissed her, licked her, screwed her and sodomized her, this would almost certainly be a whole different story — most likely one about her past sexual experiences and drug and alcohol use, about her desire to be famous, about what she was wearing, about how easy it would be for Roman Polanski to get consensual sex, so hey, why would he need to rape anyone?
It would quite possibly be a story about a wealthy and famous director who pled not guilty to sexual assault, was acquitted on “she wanted it” grounds, and continued to live and work happily in the U.S. Which is to say that 30 years on, it would not be a story at all. So it’s much safer to focus on the victim’s age, removing any legal question of consent than to get tied up in that thorny “he said, she said” stuff about her begging Polanski to stop and being terrified of him.
He did the crime; he has yet to do the time. Why is that so difficult to comprehend? I get that this many years later, it should all be water under the bridge. But the reason it isn’t is that despite getting this pled down from rape to statutory rape—which is most assuredly was not; anal sex on a drugged 13-year-old?—Polanski fled justice, rather than facing it.
UPDATE: Patterico has more, though it doesn’t necessarily make for easy reading. For years, I was lied to about this case, and told it was a mere statutory rape. No—it was pled down to statutory rape.
But it was full-on rape, including forced anal and drugging of the victim.
Do your time, Roman.
UPDATE II: I see that I’m being misinterpreted, and that some feel that I’m characterizing the Kate Harding piece as being written by one of Polanski’s apologists. No, no. Darrell is right; my quoting a passage that has tongue-in-cheek quality to it was ambiguous. Kate Harding at Salon is making the point that this would be a crime even if the victim had been a grown woman at the time. I read the transcripts of the girl’s grand jury testimony last night on Smoking Gun, and it was painful reading that brings back memories of being a preteen girl in a sex-drenched era. Ghastly, ghastly stuff.
I understand Polanski’s temptation, but I also understand that the girl was confused, and not sophisticated enough to steer the situation away from a sexual encounter. She was also being plied with champagne and part of a Qaalude.
No matter how rich you are, sex is not an entitlement.
UPDATE III: A word of explanation about my remark that “I understand Polanski’s temptation,” which outraged at least one reader. I meant that I understand why he found the situation erotic and tempting. And I understand that he was (and likely still is) a troubled man who seeks sensation to get out of his own head.
In reading through that awful, awful transcript of the girl’s grand jury testimony, I could see it from the point of view of a curious adolescent woman-child in the 1970s, because I was such a thing at one time. And I could see it from the point of view of a middle-aged woman. And I could see it from the point of view of a middle-aged man. There was so much about that situation that drenched it in sexuality from the start, if one wants to take an adult point of view. I can see how a man would be tempted to rationalize it as a sort of date. Want it to be a sort of date. Talk oneself into it being that, convince oneself that it was a sort of seduction, rather than what it was. Which was rape of a 13-year-old girl.
To read that transcript, for me, was to toggle back and forth between the point of view of the Titanic, and the iceberg—back and forth, back and forth. And to know how I as an adult woman could have kept the two from colliding, and how as a woman child I would have been powerless to do so. (Was, on a few occasions. It was, after all, the 1970s, and it’s only by the grace of God that after all the peril I placed myself in, things weren’t as bad for me as they were for this girl.)
But there is one person in that situation whose job it was to find out the age of the girl, and to talk to her enough to know whether she wanted sex, and to contemplate the inappropriateness of the age difference and power structure. And to listen to the word “no.”
His name is Roman Polanski.
Prison. It’s what’s for dinner.