By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I've been struck in the discussions in the media about Roman Polanski: The number of people defending him is shocking to me, as are the reporters who say he pled guilty to "having sex with a 13 year old." I'm not a lawyer, but isn't any sex with a minor considered "rape"? I know there is the Romeo and Juliet exception—when, say, a 17-year-old boy sleeps with his 15-year-old girlfriend—but Roman Polanski was a 43-year-old man who admitted to drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. Calling it "unlawful sex"? I don't get it. Maybe 30 years ago, when the culture was different and people thought most rape victims must have "asked for it." But not now. Not with a child.
When 130 of Roman Polanski's friends circulated an online petition of support for him, with his fellow director Woody Allen at the top of the list, I thought it was some sort of joke. In fact, the CNN coverage of all the Hollywood types running to his defense reads like something from the April Fool's edition of The Onion. Debra Winger, one of the jury members at the Zurich Film Festival at which he was arrested, called the 30-year-old charges "a minor technicality." Sigourney Weaver jumped in too, calling him "sweet."
Just as surprising was Whoopi Goldberg, who is a mother herself, speaking on The View, excusing what Polanski did: "I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else, but I don't believe it was rape-rape," she said. All this despite the fact that the victim's gruesome testimony of the "rape-rape" was widely available online for anyone to read. Is it just me—granted, I'm the mom of two teenage girls—or are these people on another planet?
Marcia Clark, the former prosecutor and one of the few people in Los Angeles who is not an apologist for Polanski, has written in the Daily Beast about the extradition case and has excerpts from the transcripts from his guilty plea. She answers the speculation that the defense could withdraw the guilty plea, that the prosecution could withdraw the plea agreement, or that Polanski could remain free—especially if the victim, Samantha Geimer, refuses to testify now:
If the plea was withdrawn, could the DA's office pull the case together after all this time? Probably. First of all, even though Geimer said she didn't want Polanski to do any more time, I wouldn't discount the possibility that she'd show up to testify at trial. But even if she didn't, lots of other evidence is out there: Geimer's spontaneous statements to others about the rape, the observations of the nurses and doctors who examined her, and Polanski's admissions to friends, family, and others would come in. Bottom line, there's a case that can be made even without the victim—and without Polanski's guilty plea.
And if this case does go to trial, Polanski might find himself wishing he'd gotten it into court back in 1977 ... The '70s are long gone, and today people see rape for the crime it is.
When you think of all the outrage at the pedophile-priest scandals over the last few years, and the horrible stories of creepy guys who have kidnapped and molested children lately, you'd think the attitude would be different in Hollywood. As Bill Bennett once famously asked, "Where's the outrage?"