She pleads again for the charges to be dropped. Is this justice?
By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Nov 2, 2009
The woman at the heart of the Roman Polanski rape case has spoken,
and once again, she's explicitly asked for the charges against the
director to be dropped.
In the statement filed by her attorney Lawrence Silver on Friday, the
woman said that she has received "close to 500 phone calls from media
as far as Germany, Israel and Japan." She's received invitations to
appear on Oprah and Larry King, and photographers have camped outside
her home and offered gifts to her kids in exchange for information.
The filing further went on to say that since Polanski's arrest last
month in Switzerland, the woman has had "health-related issues" and
had to contend with the "understandable displeasure of her employer
and the real possibility that [she] could lose her job."
It would be great if it were possible to mete out justice for a sex
abuser while honoring the privacy of his victim, but in this case
it's not. The on and off attention she's lived with for the past 30
years are nothing compared to the deluge of reporters who have been
chasing her and her family over the past weeks. In addition, she's
had to contend with the very public and high-profile support her
rapist has received from the entertainment industry, and a fair
measure of subsequent disparagement of her own character. In an
interview this week in the Atlantic's online edition, author Gore
Vidal sniffed, "Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young
hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of? … The idea that
this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white,
being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko -- that's what people were
calling him -- well, the story is totally different now from what it
Her request for dismissal is a tough one for many to fathom. The Los
Angeles Times scolded this weekend that "Polanski's victim is not
judge and jury." In brushing aside her wishes, the paper said that
"We empathize with [the victim], who has received about 500 media
calls in recent weeks, but the case against Polanski was not brought
to satisfy her desire for justice or her need for closure." Yeah, who
does she think she is anyway, with her desires and needs?
It's one thing to acknowledge the complexities of the legal system
and the undiminished outrage at what was done to a young girl all
those years ago. But it's utter bullshit to plead empathy with anyone
who has a phalanx of reporters on her lawn and an abuser whose
outspoken supporters include Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson. If you
haven't been raped and sodomized, if you haven't been called a hooker
by Gore Vidal, don't say you know how she feels. I don't. That's why
I haven't named her. And that's why I'm sick to death of reading
editorials saying that this isn't about her. It's exactly about her.
It's not about every other rape case in the world, or the system, or
some potential slippery slope. It's about letting the victim have a
vote, about allowing someone who has been powerless set the terms
herself. It's about her.
Her family lawyer once wrote, "Balances must be struck. In this case,
the balance that has to be effected is between the interests of
society as represented by the District Attorney, the defendant, and
my clients." He described a "charged atmosphere that can only harm,
and seriously harm her. … A stigma would attach her for a lifetime.
Justice is not made of such stuff."
Those words were written in August of 1977. In the interim the
sentiment has been repeated by Polanski's victim again and again,
consistently over the years. A lifetime of harm and stigma. Enough.
Forget Polanski's requests for bail and the L.A. county's pursuit of
the case and consider the victim herself, and the words of her most
recent court filing. "This statement makes one more demand, one more
request, one more plea: Leave her alone."