Geraldine A. Ferraro, a lawyer and a former member of Congress, was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984.
“A male is guilty of rape in the second degree when, being eighteen years old or more, he engages in sexual intercourse with a female less than fifteen years old. Rape in the second degree is a class D felony.”
That is the current law in New York. When I was prosecuting these cases in Queens in the 70’s the law required that the child be less than 14. The legislature tightened it. But there is no doubt that California had the same protections for children when Polanski was prosecuted in California for having intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. It still does.
Why has no one from the movie business, no one who supposedly stands up for the rights of women and girls, spoken up in support of finally bringing this man to justice?
This is the definition of statutory rape. Notice, it doesn’t talk about force and it doesn’t talk about consent. Neither are needed. The statute is meant to protect children. A 13-year-old can’t consent to intercourse with a man over 18, and certainly not with a man in his 30’s.
Polanski was convicted of a serious crime in the 70’s. He chose to abscond to France and because he had money and connections, has lived a charmed life, unhindered by his obligations to society. The message is, rich guys can get away with anything … or wait — is it only rich guys with friends in Hollywood? The statute of limitations for rape does not toll simply because 31 years has passed. And victims cannot “forgive” the rapist. The criminal justice system is meant to protect all of us.
As for France getting all exercised about California moving forward (and the prosecutors there haven’t just let this go for 31 years), who are the French officials to criticize us as a nation and tell us how to deal with our criminals? Too bad for Bernie Madoff that he wasn’t as smart as Polanski. He would have taken his wife, brother, nephew, sons and their families and a billion or two and gone to France to help their economy. Then when the Ponzi scheme was exposed, the French would have, if consistent, refused extradition. He could have stayed for the rest of his life in luxury. Just imagine.
And what really defies explanation are the actions of the Directors Association and actors, like Harrison Ford. Did they remain buddies over the years with a convicted rapist who had fled the jurisdiction because they condoned his rape of the child or because they approved of his actions of absconding and beating the system? Did they do so because this was not such an unusual situation in Hollywood at the time and may still exist today?
What was particularly outrageous was the woman speaking on behalf of the Directors Association who said: “It happened so long ago.” Really. Suppose it happened today. Would she feel differently? Suppose it had been murder and not rape that happened 31 years ago? Would she be saying “It happened so long ago”?
For me, one of the biggest disappointments of this episode is that no one from Hollywood, no one from that movie business, no one who supposedly stands up for the rights of women and girls has opened his or her mouth in support of the prosecutors who are doing their job and attempting to bring this man finally to justice. As for France, I would hope that President Sarkozy would call in his ministers and tell them to butt out of our business.
Filed under: Domestic Violence, Feminism, Liberal Politics, Media Bias, Misogyny/Sexism, The Majority United, Violence against women, Women's Rights | Tagged: Directors Association, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Harrison Ford, Polanski, Sarkozy | 8 Comments »