Posted on September 30th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 32 Comments »
The debate in the Roman Polanski affair is getting all hot and bothered.
Here’s Kate Harding in Salon reminding us that, as she says about 15 times in her article, Roman Polanski raped a child.
….let’s take a moment to recall that according to the victim’s grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, “No,” then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.
Here’s a paradox I’ve kind of wondered about: The anti-Polanski forces emphasize the victim’s stature as a child and the fact that she was “drugged,” but at the same time accord complete credibility to the girl’s testimony. We’ve all seen how the testimony of children is often unreliable (imagine the circumstances)—and I’m not impeaching the girl’s character one bit to say that perhaps one shouldn’t take her testimony at face value. (Lots of people, for example, are taking aim at McKenzie Phillip’s recall of something that happened when she was similarly under the influence and considerably older.) I’m not saying she made the whole thing up, far from it—just wondering if there was ever any controversy or debate about the details, because some of those details are so viscerally unpleasant.
(And to those of you who will say, “But Polanski pled guilty!”, one can imagine why he wouldn’t want to get in a fight over details.)
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, here’s the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum (full disclosure: Anne and I were college classmates and once wrote a story together):
Here are some of the facts: Polanski’s crime — statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.
I don’t find this all that convincing; to me the only essential argument is that bit about judicial misconduct.
Already this is degenerating into a fiasco that seems even less likely to effect justice than the original trial. The girl (now woman) doesn’t want it, the mother doesn’t want it, Polanski obviously doesn’t want it. What possible good can come of it?