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Roman Polanski, Brian David Mitchell- What's the Difference?


Brian David Mitchell arrives is escorted to the Salt Lake City federal courthouse for a hearing Thursday, Oct. 1 2009, in Salt Lake City. Elizabeth Smart is testifying in Mitchell's competency hearing for the first time since her kidnapping in 2002. (AP Photo/Colin Braley)

AP Photo by Colin Braley

This has been a week from hell for many sexual assault survivors. First, we hear from Whoopi Goldberg and others of her ilk that, when director Roman Polanski gained access to a 13-year-old girl, under false pretenses, drugged her, then raped her vaginally, anally and orally, that it wasn't really "rape-rape." Rape-rape, apparantly, is what happened to Elizabeth Smart, the then-14-year-old girl who was abducted from her bedroom by a stranger who held her captive for months before she got away.

Even Elizabeth had to deal with stupid remarks, however. When she was reunited with her family, people peppered them with questions, like, why did she not try to escape when she had the opportunity? Why did she "stay" with her captors, as if she had somehow chosen to extend a long-awaited vacation?

And then we have the MacKenzie Phillips detractors. MacKenzie courageously spoke out about her life and the secret she had never before shared publicly: that her father taught her to roll joints when she was 10, gave her cocaine when she was 13, and raped her when she was 18. She says shortly after that rape and subsequent ones, they began a consensual sexual relationship. Virtually all experts agree that a father who introduces his child to drugs and rapes her could never have a truly consensual relationship with that child- the imbalance of power between parent and child, not to mention appropriate boundaries, precludes that possibility.  But people are condemning her, throwing the old "nuts and sluts" stone, claiming she is either too crazy or too "out-there" to be trusted.

Amidst the many ignorant voices rubbing salt into the wounds of victims/survivors, there are a few strong voices proclaiming the truth. For them I am grateful.  Steve Lopez of the LA Times is one such voice. His article starts with a segment of the testimony of Polanski's victim:

Q: Did you resist at that time?

A: A little bit, but not really because . . .

Q: Because what?

A: Because I was afraid of him.

Read more here:,0,4549479.column?page=1

Also, Wendy Murphy delivers a sharp rebuke to Whoopi and other Polanski defenders. Read it here:

What's the difference between Polanski and Brian Mitchell, the man who raped Elizabeth Smart, a man whose name most of us had forgotten? Murphy explains it oh so well: "Nonetheless, Mr. Polanski is a man of wealth and power, and kids don’t vote or have any money. Which is why people like you are so quick to say things that degrade children. Admit it Whoopi, you’d be talking out of the other side of your mouth if filmmaker Polanski were garbageman Polanski."

Help for Sexual Assault Survivors:  



  • Pavitra 5 years ago

    Excellent commentary. Thank you for speaking these words on behalf of us survivors.

  • Carz 5 years ago

    Thank you for putting the blame where it truly lies - with the perpetrators of rape, regardess of their relationship to the victim. Far too often the victims are blamed for being raped because they didn't fight back, didn't scream, didn't act in the way that everyone thinks they should.

    Keep up the great work.

  • kevin 5 years ago

    Great article Janet. Polanski needs to be judged by his actions ini this situation, not his talent as a director.