Horrifying to read the newspaper coverage of the arrest of Roman Polanski. Now if people want to claim he was innocent, they are welcome to do so. Instead several papers have pieces claiming that while he was guilty he should not be brought to justice because (1) he makes great films, (2) he has experienced other suffering in his life or (3) because he has paid for his crimes by living overseas for many years to avoid prison.
If any of these are to hold any weight someone needs to clarify exactly what the exchange rate is:
(1) Can I punch someone of my choosing without punishment given that my Edinburgh show got a five-star review?
(2) Can I punch someone of my choosing without punishment given that I had an eating disorder in my teens?
(3) Can I punch someone of my choosing without punishment as long as I take two weeks holiday in the south of France straight afterwards?
Worse still some people are claiming that he shouldn't be brought to justice because the crime was somehow "not that bad". Points raised include (1) the fact that the victim has said she doesn't want to go to court, (2) the allegation that she was "sexually experienced" and (3) the implication that the rape committed was only "statutory rape", i.e. that she consented to sex and that therefore the rape was only a rape on "technical grounds" because of the age of consent. Well:
(1) The victim gave statements immediately after the event and Polanski pleaded guilty so it would be easy for the judge to rule that she needn't go to court, there is no reason they couldn't sentence him in her absence. The point of the law is not to make victims feel better, although it may be hoped that in some cases it does. The point of the law is to punish those who commit crimes.
(2) Are we really still in the 21st century believeing that a woman who has previously had sex cannot be raped? Of course not. And since she was 13 at the time she hadn't previously had sex - she'd previously been raped.
(3) Firstly this is not someone a few weeks away from being legally old enough to consent. She was thirteen. The law has an age of consent for a reason. If people feel the law is wrong they should campaign to change the law, not ignore it. But secondly, and most importantly of all I think. This was much more than statutory rape.
There is a good piece in the Independent by (dare I say it) Dominic Lawson
pointing out that he drugged her with the drug quaalude mixed into champagne and also that the claims of consent from the victim are very flimsy...
Here's the transcript of victim's original statement (warning: not for the sensitive reader):
"Q. What did you do when he said, 'Let's go into the other room'?
A. I was going 'No, I think I better go home', because I was afraid. So I just went and I sat down on the couch.
Q. What were you afraid of?
A. Him.... He sat down beside me and asked if I was OK. I said 'No'.
Q. What did he say?
A. He goes 'Well, you'll be better'. And I go, 'No I won't. I have to go home. He said 'I'll take you home soon'.
Q. Then what happened?
A. Then he went down and he started performing cuddliness... I was kind of dizzy, you know, like things were kind of blurry sometimes. I was having trouble with my coordination... I wasn't fighting really because I, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go."
Q. Did he ask you about being on the pill?
A. He asked, he goes, 'Are you on the pill?' and I went, 'No' and he goes 'When did you have your period?' and I said, 'I don't know. A week or two. I'm not sure'... He goes, 'Come on. You have to remember'. And I told him I didn't.... and right after I said I was not on the pill... and he goes... and then he put me – wait. Then he lifted my legs up farther and he went in through my anus.
Q. Did you resist at that time?
A. A little bit, but not really, because...
Q. Because what?
A. Because I was afraid of him."
That is not consent.
Labels: crime, film industry, rape, USA