This is part of my Diary piece in the latest London Review of Books: Read all of it here
(See also the latest from Bernard-Henri Lévi in the Huffington Post)
In 1961 I was raped by an American in London. I was 14, a year older than the girl Polanski gave half a Quaalude and champagne to, then had oral, vaginal and anal sex with. In defence of Polanski, various people have pointed out Geimer was a teenage model and was doing a photo-shoot her mother had fixed up with Polanski, who said he wanted to take the pictures for Vogue. As further evidence to mitigate Polanski’s crime people have pointed out that after she had been drinking champagne (encouraged by Polanski during the photo session) Polanski got into a jacuzzi and suggested she join him, but she said she had to go home. He phoned her mother and said she would be late, then he let her speak to her mother. Geimer replied ‘no’ when her mother asked if she wanted to be picked up and taken home, and she consented, according to one telling, though this isn’t clear in the grand jury transcript, to oral sex. She also told the judge that she’d had sex twice before with her boyfriend, who was around her own age.
What got my interest finally and fully engaged was the idea of a 13-year-old consenting to have oral sex with a 44-year-old film director. Not, of course, that children aren’t sexual or even apparently complicit sometimes in sexual play. She was clearly not an innocent. (Though previous sexual experience is not a bar to a rape conviction even where the victim is over the age of consent.) Nevertheless, in order for her to consent to oral sex, Polanski must have asked her. How did he ask? Some questions are more like questions than others. What is it like to be 13, a wannabe movie star (nearly all 13-year-olds are), in the presence of a powerful movie director in the house of a famous movie star (Jack Nicholson), being given a powerful drug and alcohol and then invited to give the great man a blow job or make yourself available for cunnilingus?
I was neither dazzled nor drugged into sex when I was 14 – I was embarrassed into it. I was walking along the street, one Friday morning, on my way to the Notting Hill Gate library, feeling cross after a row with my father, when a man with an American accent, in his twenties, suddenly appeared and started walking beside me. He asked my name. I ignored him. He repeated his question over and over again. That stuff happened. You just kept on walking when strange men spoke to you or exposed themselves. But this one was really persistent. He marched alongside me and then said that he was a singer and he’d written a new song. He wanted to know what I thought of it. When I said piss off, again, he started to sing. Loudly. These days, of course, I might well sing loudly in the street myself and not give a toss. But 14 is different. I was excruciated. A man singing to me full-throatedly as I walked down the road made me publicly ridiculous and clearly everyone on the planet was turning their head to stare at me. And laughing. I was beside myself with embarrassment. That, at any rate, was what my 14 was like. I hissed at him to stop and he said he would if I went to the recording studio where he worked and listened to him singing his song properly. It was just round the corner, a few minutes from where I lived. Then he started to sing again. He was amiable and quite funny, not frightening, if much too insistent....(The Whole Article)