Roman Polanski's rape victim appeared on Larry King last night to speak about the crime for the first time in years. She forgave Polanski, but isn't forgiving the media.
Geimer has long maintained that she doesn't want Polanski prosecuted further. She told King that when he was arrested in Switzerland, she "knew it could only be bad for me," and that her house was mobbed with reporters. Below, she talks about forgiving the director — but not others involved with the case:
Geimer criticized the Los Angeles justice system — she faults Judge Rittenband for his misconduct — and the media, whom she accuses of using her story for their own ends. She said she'd been offered money to tell her story, but "my experience is when people pay you they want you to say what they want to say." Later, she added that "I think people don't like [Polanski] because they don't like him, and I'm just an excuse." The accusation's a pretty serious one — basically, Geimer doesn't believe that those calling for Polanski's punishment really care about her rape at all. Here's her description of that crime:
Her lawyer Larry Silver (who has represented her since 1978!) later explained that the incident was rape no matter how much or little Geimer resisted, not only because of her age but because Polanski gave her intoxicating substances. Still, Geimer's account of the night on Larry King seemed slightly different from previous ones, notably testimony at the time that she "demanded that he 'keep away.'" While she stated explicitly that "I never blamed myself," and that she was very young at the time, some of her statements echoed the kind of victim-blaming that always follows a rape: "I didn't feel like I made the smartest choice," she said, and "I let him photograph me topless." Perhaps the most heartrending part of the interview was when she told King she returned for a second photo shoot because "I wanted to be a movie star." It's clear that whether or not Geimer forcibly resisted, Polanski held all the power.
Nonetheless, Geimer says she wishes the director well, and that she was relieved that Switzerland didn't extradite him. Given the media coverage she's endured ever since 1978 (when, she says, "nobody believed me"), it's not surprising that she wants the case to go away. For anyone who has advocated for Polanski's punishment (myself included), her indictment of such people's motives was disturbing to hear. But perhaps what Geimer's appearance last night should teach us is simply that rape victims shouldn't be held responsible for feeling any particular way about their rapists. It's not Geimer's responsibility to hate Polanski (she says she never did), to wish him ill, or to want him jailed. Instead, it's the court's responsibility to bring him to justice, and his responsibility to accept it. In this case, both have failed — and though some have pointed to Geimer's forgiveness as evidence that the whole incident deserves to be forgotten, none of us should forget that a rape case turned into an extended opportunity for rape apology because a rapist fled and a judge mishandled his job.