Until a few days ago, I was under the delusion that the civilized world unanimously recognized the rape of a 13 year old child as a crime worthy of punishment. Then along came the overdue arrest of Roman Polanski. Financial penalties, when avoided, compound with interest over time; apparently many seem to believe that the opposite should be true for criminal penalties, that fleeing from justice should be rewarded, at least as long as you’re rich enough and perhaps enough of a “genius.”
For those unfamiliar with the case, let’s recap: Polanski brought a 13 year old girl in on the false pretense of a modeling shoot, he fed her champagne and Quaaludes (a barbiturate that acts as an aphrodisiac and a sedative), and then had anal intercourse with her. And here’s what he had to say several years later:
If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”
Was there judicial misconduct? Maybe. Has the victim said she forgives him? Yes. Does any of this matter? No. There is no doubt as to his guilt and he has already pled guilty. Furthermore, victims don’t prosecute criminals: criminals are prosecuted by the state on behalf of the people of the state, in accordance with public policy designed to advance the public good. In this case, the law exists to protect children.
For those who are still tempted to forgive Polanski, I’d close by asking you to have a conversation with a 13 year old. Set aside the images of sassy young teenagers you see on TV (played by actors many years older) – these are children in 7th or 8th grade, and they are not capable of intelligently making a choice in cases like this (especially when they have been drugged).