Q: Did you resist at that time?
A: A little bit, but not really because ...
Q: Because what?
A: Because I was afraid of him.
That's Roman Polanski's 13-year-old victim testifying before a grand jury about how the famous director forced himself on her at Jack Nicholson's Mulholland Drive home in March 1977.
I'm reading this on the 18th floor of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, digging through the Polanski file to refresh my memory of the infamous case, and my blood pressure is rising.
Is it because I'm the parent of a girl?
Maybe that's part of it.
But I wish the renowned legal scholars Harvey Weinstein and Debra Winger, to name just two of Polanski's defenders, were here with me now. I'd like to invite Martin Scorsese, as well, along with David Lynch, who have put their names on a petition calling for Polanski to be freed immediately.
What, because he won an Oscar? Would they speak up for a rapist who hadn't?
And then there's Woody Allen, who has signed the petition, too.
You'd think that after marrying his ex-wife's adopted daughter he'd have the good sense to remain silent. But at least he was having consensual sex with an adult.
I'd like to show all these great luminaries the testimony from Polanski's 13-year-old victim, as well as Polanski's admission of guilt. Then I'd like to ask whether, if the victim were their daughter, they'd be so cavalier about a crime that was originally charged as sodomy and rape before Polanski agreed to a plea bargain. Would they still support Polanski's wish to remain on the lam living the life of a king, despite the fact that he skipped the United States in 1977 before he was sentenced?
The Zurich film festival has been "unfairly exploited" by Polanski's arrest, said Winger.
Thanks, Deb. And so sorry the film festival was inconvenienced by the arrest of a man who left the United States to avoid sentencing for forcing himself on a child.
Weinstein, meanwhile, urged "every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the U.S.," arguing that "whatever you think of the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time."
Let's get back to the grand jury testimony.
Polanski has taken the girl to Nicholson's house on Mulholland Drive to photograph her, ostensibly for a French magazine. The girl's mother, it's clear to me, should have had her head examined for allowing this to happen, but that's another matter.
The girl says Polanski, who was in his 40s at the time, opened a bottle of champagne and shared it with her and with an adult woman who later left for work. That's when Polanski began taking pictures of the 13-year-old and suggested that she remove her blouse.
Quoting again from the grand jury transcript, with the girl being questioned by a prosecutor:
Q: Did you take your shirt off or did Mr. Polanski?
A: No, I did.
Q: Was that at his request or did you volunteer to do that?
A: That was at his request.
She said Polanski later went into the bathroom and took part of a Quaalude pill and offered her some, as well, and she accepted.
Q: Why did you take it?
A: I don't know. I think I must have been pretty drunk or else I wouldn't have.
So here she is, at 13, washing down a Quaalude with champagne, and then Polanski suggested they move out to the Jacuzzi.
Q: When you got in the Jacuzzi, what were you wearing?
A: I was going to wear my underwear, but he said for me to take them off.
She says Polanski went back in the house and returned in the nude and got into the Jacuzzi with her. When he tells her to move closer to him, she resists, saying, "No. No, I got to get out."
He put his hands around her waist. She tells him she has asthma and wants to get out, and she does. She said he followed her into the bathroom, where she told him, "I have to go home now."
Q: What did Mr. Polanski say?
A: He told me to go in the other room and lie down.
She testified that she was afraid, and sat on the couch in the bedroom.
Q: What were you afraid of?
She testified that Polanski sat down next to her and said she'd feel better. She repeated that she had to go home.
Q: What happened then?
A: He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, "No," you know, "Keep away." But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there.
She testified that he put his mouth on her vagina.
"I was ready to cry," she said. "I was kind of - I was going, 'No. Come on. Stop it.' But I was afraid."
She said he then pulled off her panties.
Q: What happened after that?
A: He started to have intercourse with me.
At this point, she testified, Polanski became concerned about the consequences and asked if she was on the pill.
No, she told him.
Polanski had a solution, according to her.
"He goes, 'Would you want me to go in through your back?' And I went, 'No.'"
According to her, that didn't stop Polanski, who began having anal sex with her.
This was when the victim was asked by the prosecutor if she resisted and she said, "Not really," because "I was afraid of him." She testified that when the ordeal had ended, Polanski told her, "Oh, don't tell your mother about this."
He added: "This is our secret."
But it wasn't a secret for long. When the victim got home and related what had happened, her mother called the police.
Now granted, we only have the girl's side of the story. But a Los Angeles Police Department criminalist testified before the grand jury that tests of the girl's panties "strongly indicate semen." And a police officer who searched Polanski's hotel room found a Quaalude and photos of the girl.
Two weeks after the trip to Mulholland Drive, Polanski was indicted for furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, committing a lewd or lascivious act upon a child under 14, unlawful sexual intercourse, rape by use of drugs, perversion (oral copulation) and sodomy.
Three months later, a plea bargain had been worked out. Court records indicate that the victim and her family had asked the district attorney's office to spare the victim the trauma of testifying at a public, criminal trial.
"A stigma would attach to her for a lifetime," the family's attorney argued.
So Polanski pleaded guilty to just one count - unlawful sexual intercourse. The other charges were dropped.
Polanski was ordered to spend 42 days in prison for pre-sentencing diagnostic tests. After his release, but before his sentencing in 1978, he skipped, boarding a plane for Europe because he feared he'd be ordered to serve more time in prison. A warrant for his arrest has been in effect ever since, and Polanski was arrested late last month in Switzerland.
Ironically, the arrest may have been the result of pressure by Polanski's attorneys, who wanted a dismissal of all charges because of alleged prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. They claimed the district attorney's office hadn't even bothered pursuing the director of Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist. The DA's office, which argued otherwise, quickly closed in on the fugitive director, who is now fighting extradition.
And I hope he loses that fight, gets hustled back to California, and finally answers for his crime.
His supporters argue that too much time has passed, and that Polanski might never have served a minute beyond his 42 days, although the statute at the time allowed for the judge to send him away for many years. Polanski cheerleaders also say that, at 76, he's too old to be sent to jail.
But he's not too old, apparently, to go skiing at his Swiss chalet and travel the world in style.
Yes, Polanski has known great tragedy, having survived the Holocaust and having lost his wife, Sharon Tate, to the insanity of the Charles Manson cult.
But that has no bearing on the crime in question.
His victim, who won a civil judgment against Polanski for an unspecified amount, said she has forgiven the man who forced himself on her. That's big-hearted of her but also irrelevant, and so is the fact that the victim was a somewhat experienced girl, having admitted to intimacy with a boyfriend before meeting Polanski.
Polanski stood in a Santa Monica courtroom on Aug. 8, 1977, admitted to having his way with a girl three decades his junior, and told a judge that indeed, he knew she was only 13.
Was there prosecutorial or judicial misconduct, as a documentary film alleged?
But no misconduct was greater than allowing Polanski to cop a plea to lesser charges. His crime was graphic, manipulative and heinous, and he got a pass. It's unbelievable, really, that his soft-headed apologists are rooting for him to get another one.