When it comes to naming, shaming and prosecuting sexual predators, there are no sacred cows. While certain high profile figures may be well loved, if there are women claiming they were assaulted by them, they should be believed. Period. This means we take the claims against the likes of Bill Clinton (yes, Bill Clinton), Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski very, very seriously and hold the accused to account for their actions.
This past weekend, the news broke that child rapist Roman Polanski sexually assaulted another underage girl, 10 year old Marianne Barnard back in 1975 — the fifth allegation made against the director. Reported the Guardian:
Marianne Barnard has told the Sun that she was molested by Polanski in 1975, two years before the director fled the US after pleading guilty to statutory rape. The artist claims that the incident took place at a beach in California following a photoshoot where the director asked her to pose naked.
“At first I had the understanding I was just going to the beach with my mom. We were there for a little while by ourselves and then he was there,” Barnard said. “And she explained that this man wanted to take pictures of me in this fur coat. I thought it was to go into a magazine or something.”
Barnard says that Polanski initially took photos of her wearing a fur coat and a bikini but later asked her to pose naked. “At some point I realised my mom had gone. I don’t know where she went and I didn’t really register her leaving but she was no longer there. Then he molested me,” she added.
Barnard, who says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and claustrophobia as a result of her experiences, felt emboldened to come forward following the scandal surrounding disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, who denies allegations of criminal sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault made against him by more than 50 women.
There is no doubt that Polanski is a child rapist. He had non-consensual oral, vaginal, and anal sex with 13-year-old Charlotte Lewis after plying her with champagne and quaaludes in 1977. Polanski pled guilty to all charges after he was arrested, but then fled the country to avoid punishment. Here’s what Polanski told Lewis before raping her:
He just said very coldly, ‘If you’re not a big enough girl to have sex with me, you’re not big enough to do the screen-test. I must sleep with every actress that I work with, that’s how I get to know them, how I mold them.”
Polanski was 44 years old at the time. As the Banter’s Chez Pazienza wrote, Polanski has managed to carve out a successful career for himself protected largely by “pompous European artistic intelligentsia,” that has refused to hold him to account for his crimes:
When Polanski was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 and it looked for a brief moment like he might face extradition back to the U.S., the notoriously pompous European artistic intelligentsia rushed to his defense, drawing up petitions, expressing condescending indignation and cultural superiority, and claiming that it didn’t matter if someone like Roman Polanski had broken a few eggs in his lifetime as long as the omelet came out looking like Chinatown. “(He has) atoned for the sins of his young years. He has paid for it by not being able to enter the U.S. and in his professional life he has paid for it by not being able to make films in Hollywood,” said Jacek Bromski, head of the Polish Filmmakers Association, at the time, expressing a detachment from the reality you and I live in that borders on the unfathomable. Translation: “Polanski was a mere child of 44 when the rape occurred so it’s okay, plus he’s suffered enough by being forced to make his movies and his vast fortunes in France rather than the United States.” Cry me a fucking river.
That this man is still free to make a fortune for himself in France while his victims remain psychologically traumatized by his actions is an absolute disgrace. Perhaps with the climate changing rapidly after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, Polanski will finally be made to account for his crimes and spend the rest of his life in jail with other rapists and sex offenders who didn’t have the luxury of being a critically acclaimed director.
We need get rid of these monsters once and for all and make it clear that no matter how brilliant they are, or how much power they hold, assaulting women is not OK. And that starts from the top down, not the bottom up.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.