Last Friday in Los Angeles, the so-called celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred – whose most recent clients include two of the alleged mistresses of Tiger Woods – called a press conference. A British actor, Charlotte Lewis, appeared alongside her, claiming to have been sexually assaulted in 1983 by Roman Polanski, who is fighting extradition to the United States after his 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a minor.It appears Mr Harris feels the timing of this announcement is a little unfortunate for his pal:
Carried live on cable TV, Lewis made a short and dramatic statement: "I am also a victim of Roman Polanski. Mr Polanski knew I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris. He took advantage of me, and I have lived with the effects of his behaviour ever since." Allred added that her client was "ready to testify under oath if and when that is necessary". The Los Angeles legal authorities subsequently confirmed to the Associated Press that they had interviewed Lewis the previous day.Hmmm, things don’t look good for our plucky antihero in his mansion in Switzerland.
I know! Let’s paint this girl as a flake and a golddigger!
Yet there was, from the outset, something slightly peculiar about it. Lewis alleged that the assault ("the worst possible") took place in 1983, but apparently it was not so horrible that it put her off working with Polanski, since she appeared in his 1986 film, Pirates.Hey, we are always being told by the Righteous that women who are abused by men can’t be expected to just get away from them. When did the rules change?
I know Polanski well, as we recently collaborated on a film of my novel, The Ghost.Oh, really?
It seems you don’t know him as well as his victim, Samantha Geimer, got to know him. Against her will…
In fairness to the Mail on Sunday, they did at least do a little research in the cuttings library before going to press, and actually included a comment Lewis had made on the record about Polanski in 1986: "I found him very attractive. I'd love to have had a romantic relationship with him – and a physical one. You can't help falling in love with him. But he didn't want me that way." The paper tried to explain away the glaring discrepancy between her stories then and now by saying "at the time she was speaking she was still working for Polanski and, it could be argued, in thrall of him [sic]"Well, that’s again something we are continually told by the Righteous we must bear in mind when women claim abuse.
…there is in the archives a third version of Lewis's relationship with Polanski. A profile, titled "Wild Child", clearly written with the actor's co-operation, appeared in the News of the World on 8 August 1999: "In a no-holds-barred interview Charlotte … confessed how she seduced kinky director Polanski when she was a nubile 17-year-old …" (The Mail on Sunday newspaper makes no mention of this earlier 2,800-word article, leaving it to the online-only version, which reports Lewis to have been "misquoted".)And Mr Harris’s conclusions? It’s all the victim’s fault, is it?
Ah. No. He doesn’t want to be thrown in that briar patch:
It is hard to blame Lewis for the confusion she has spread. If her own account of her life as reported by the News of the World is correct, then she is more to be commiserated with than condemned.Then it’s those bloody meddling lawyers and media is, it, who are cruelly persecuting your chum?
But the behaviour of the media, and of some lawyers in America, is a different matter. The Polanski affair has now become utterly politicised.Funny how that happens when someone flees justice, isn’t it?
The man in charge of the case, the Los Angeles district attorney Steve Cooley, is locked in a tight race for the Republican nomination to become California's attorney general: much of his prominence is down to his high-profile pursuit of Polanski.Actually, finding and trying fugitives from justice is pretty much his job description.
It does not seem to matter that the officers of the court in 1977 recommended that the director should not serve a custodial sentence…Well, Polanski blew that option out of the water by having it away on his toes to a non-extradition country, didn’t he?
A lynch mob is in town, bent on destroying Polanski, whatever the facts of his case or the opinions of his real victim, Samantha Geimer, who has long since publicly forgiven him and asked for him to be left alone.The US isn’t one of those third-world hellholes that accepts blood money. It doesn’t matter what she wants, and quite rightly so. The offence is against the state, not her.
I know few readers will be as sympathetic to Polanski as I am; I understand the instinctive recoil from the crime he committed a third of a century ago. Even so, the scenes at Allred's media circus last Friday ought to make anyone with a vestigial sense of justice shudder at the thought of what will await him if ever he is returned to the United States.Justice. Long denied.
It’s about time…