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Can Adult Forgive Polanski's Crime Against a Kid?

roman-polanskiLet’s get this straight. An adult male sleeps with a thirteen-year-old child, gets convicted, then runs away. And Samantha Geimer says she got over Roman Polanski having sex with her long ago, so we should all get over it and leave him alone?

The court of public opinion has swayed toward Polanski rather quickly since his arrest over the weekend, with entire countries (not just bloggers) calling for his release. Geimer’s declaration that she “got over it a long time ago” has only fueled the fire.

But as Salon’s Kate Harding spells out in an essay on Broadsheet today, there’s one thing you can’t escape: “Roman Polanski raped a child.”

Sure, she’s forty-five now, a mother, a bookeeper. She’s got the power to forgive and forget crimes against herself.

But she wasn’t then. She was a little girl, who was forced to have sex by an adult male. And Polanski wasn’t just accused. He was convicted. And it gets worse – he then decided that he was above paying for his crime and fled the country. Which is yet another crime he’s committed (and one that does not need the word alleged in front of it – despite the fact that he hasn’t been convicted of jumping ship in a court of law, it’s been documented by every major news organization in the world). Being a fugitive in and of itself is evidence of Polanski’s criminal nature – and that’s a crime Geimer doesn’t have the right to “forgive away.” He didn’t commit it against her.

But an even bigger question. Can an adult woman forgive legal crimes against her child self?

Point of fact: the child Geimer could not have forgiven Polanski and recommended the court forgive him as well. Sexual crimes against children are out of kid’s hands chiefly because they are matters kids can’t be expected to tackle on their own. That’s what makes them crimes – including statutory rape, which can (and very often does) include sex with a child who insists that she or he consented. But kids do not legally have the ability to consent. Nor do they legally have the ability to determine a crime against them is anything but.

So Geimer’s feelings on the matter would seem to have very little bearing on the case. Because it wasn’t forty-five-year-old Samantha Geimer who was raped by Roman Polanski. It was thirteen-year-old Geimer who Polanski forced to have sex, who went through a trial only to see her convicted rapist run to the other end of the world and get off seemingly scot free.

Image: Guardian

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