The most important person in the story of Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland at the weekend is Samantha Gailey, a middle-aged bookkeeper living quietly with her family in Hawaii. In 1977, as a 13-year-old in Hollywood, Gailey was given champagne and drugs by the director, who then had sex with her.Think the phrase you were looking for there was ‘raped her’, Dunc old chum…
Polanski, who was then aged 44, pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, spent 42 days in prison in Chino, California, and was due to be sentenced to time served when it became clear that the deal his lawyers had negotiated with the prosecution was not to be honoured – and he would have had to spend much more time in jail than had been agreed.You mean, he suddenly discovered that being a feted pet of the art world didn’t cut him as much slack as he thought it did?
Well, what’s a chap to do, then, but become a fugitive…
Seven years ago, after Polanski had won an Oscar for his film The Pianist, the case came once again under scrutiny in the US. Gailey was tracked down to her home in Hawaii where she had settled with her husband and three children. In a television interview, she did not exonerate Polanski for the way in which he had taken advantage of her – "what he did to me was wrong" – but she did say that she had felt more damaged by the media's subsequent handling of her case than by what had happened to her at the time.Aha!
Here’s Dunc’s angle – the media are going to be raping her all over again if Polanski is brought to trial! You see, he’s doing it for the victim!
… as Gailey has said herself, Polanksi has been punished. He lost what was, at the time, a glittering career in Hollywood. He has been publicly humiliated. His name is associated by many people as much with that sex offence as with all his cinematic achievements, from Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown to Tess and The Pianist. He has also suffered separately in ways that few people who stand in judgment of him can understand, in that his then wife, Sharon Tate – who was eight months pregnant with their child – was murdered in vile circumstances by the Charles Manson gang in 1968.So, because his wife was murdered, we should cut him some slack..?
What will be served by Polanski being extradited to the US to stand trial? Gailey will have her privacy invaded once more as the details of the case, already posted in prurient detail around the world, receive more coverage. The case itself is already mired in confusion as a result of allegations of judicial misconduct at the original trial and is unlikely to have a swift conclusion. Some lawyers will benefit, but who else?Well, a hell of a lot of Guardian column writers, it seems. This is, what, the fifth article on it, and he hasn’t even been extradited yet…
But Dunc has suddenly discovered that victims must be listened to:
The real victim in this case has called for compassion. But compassion is unfashionable at the moment, so the chances of her voice prevailing may not be great. The desire to exact punishment, regardless of how the actual victim is affected by it, and to justify that punishment with some grandstanding rhetoric, is the fashion of the moment.Just one question, Dunc: if she’s been howling for the justice denied her all those years ago, would you be encouraging us to listen to her?