Stop me if you've heard this one before: Roman Polanski is accused of molesting a young girl.
Anyone who's watched or read the news for longer than a few minutes this weekend probably knows that 42-year-old Charlotte Lewis -- who was once 16-year-old Charlotte Lewis, drop-dead-gorgeous star of Polanski's unmemorable 1986 film Pirates and who later became the only thing worth looking at in The Golden Child -- is now coming forward to claim that Polanski essentially raped her during an early audition for his movie. Why she waited 26 years to speak up about an incident that she says she'll "never forgive Polanski" for is one of those things I'm not going to dare get into. Whether you're willing to believe her story now, after all this time, kind of cuts to the core of childhood sex abuse claims made by adults or accusations of rape made long after the fact; it likely reveals just which side of the fence you generally come down on in cases like this.
I can appreciate Lewis's assertion that she simply got tired of watching Hollywood and the European intelligentsia shamelessly rally around and cover for a guy as rotten as Polanski, just because they happen to consider him one of their own. But that still doesn't explain why she didn't crack last year, when the entertainment world's heaviest hitters unforgivably began adding their names to a petition in support of Polanski, and pompous jackasses like Bernard-Henri Lévy were penning impassioned diatribes from on high that both sung the praises of the director and decried the supposedly puritanical forces aligning against him from the ignorant unwashed across the pond. Once again, though, who's to say how any specific person should or will react to a traumatic experience in his or her own life? It's up to you to decide if you're willing to take someone like Charlotte Lewis at her word and not immediately try to sniff out some sinister ulterior motive on her part.
Personally, I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine Polanski plying a hot 16-year-old with champagne and then having his way with her -- the same way I don't think it takes a huge leap of logic to assume that the same 16-year-old aspiring actress would use her beauty and sexuality -- or at the very least allow it to be used -- to get her a part she desperately wanted. That Polanski happens to have a proven track record of pulling grotesque crap like this only goes to further remove any benefit of the doubt somebody might be inclined to give him; that Lewis had her coming out party during a press conference called by none other than her new counsel, diabolically opportunistic puppet-master Gloria Allred -- a woman who never met a camera she didn't like or couldn't damage irreparably with her steely Medusan gaze -- suddenly makes her intentions seem more than a little suspect.
The bottom line, though, is that Lewis's claim -- true or false -- changes nothing. Not a damn thing. Anyone with an even perfunctory sense of right and wrong already knew that Roman Polanski was a despicable little toad who gets off on preying on young girls and gives himself a pass for it because he's an artist; one more accusation thrown into the mix isn't going to alter that perception, possibly not even in court. As hopelessly cliché as this may sound, it'll eventually come down to her word against his, and in the end he'll win. No, what matters is that no one needs to accuse Polanski of anything at this point. That's because he's already been convicted. From the very beginning of the "debate" over whether or not Roman Polanski should be forced to return to the United States to face justice for the rape of a young girl -- that would be the 13-year-old he was proven to have molested -- the whole thing has been bogged down by misguided apologists for Polanski who've tried to take your, my and everyone else's eye off the ball. They've done it by muddying up the otherwise crystalline waters with irrelevant points and extraneous arguments; they've done it by making the legacy of the State of California v. Roman Raymond Polanski about the supposed vagaries inherent in rape cases -- instead of about the simple, irrefutable fact that faced with an outcome he didn't like, Polanski ran. He chose to become a fugitive. He was convicted in the court of the state and country where he committed his crime -- yet he never accepted a sentence other than one he decided for himself, that he felt he deserved. That's not the way it works. He's not above the law.
If Roman Polanski really did force himself on a young Charlotte Lewis, then that's sickening and obviously a very serious tragedy for her personally -- one she's had to come to terms with throughout her life. But make no mistake: The people of the state of California don't need the testimony of Lewis to make a case against Polanski. They already did, 33-years ago -- and they won.
The rest, Polanski did all by himself.