Many of those who believe Polanski forcibly raped Geimer rely on the Grand Jury testimony as their primary piece of supporting evidence. So I think it would be nice to also take a look at the actual probation report, made at the time of the incident, by Santa Monica deputy Irwin Gold. The whole report — which recommended no jail time — is here. I would like to quote a couple of relevant portions:
Neither the mother nor the doctor are in any vindictive. They have asked for a demonstration of remorse and have requested the defendant not to be incarcerated.
[…] Neither doctor has found the defendant to be a mentally disordered sex offender. Dr. Markman has indicated that the present offense was neither a forceful nor an aggressive sexual act.
[…] There was some indication that circumstances were provocative, that there was some permissiveness by the mother, that the victim was not only physically mature but willing; as one doctor has additionally suggested there was the lack of coercion by the defendant, who was additionally, solicitous regarding the possibility of pregnancy. It is believed that incalculable emotional damage could result from incarcerating the defendant whose own life has been a seemingly unending series of punishments.
Not that this report should be viewed as necessarily the whole truth; I just ask those who condemn him that they take into account all the pieces of evidence available from the time before reaching a conclusion.
I would also like to say a few words about how I generally form credibility notions about people I have not met or do not know personally. This is less of an explanation and more of a personal note.
A commenter to my previous post on the Polanski arrest implies that it is hasty and unwise to make conclusions about personal credibility from other areas. I agree, generally. There are a lot of people whose work I admire. I love every movie made by Quentin Tarantino. Would I make any claim to knowing him? No. Ditto for Kubrick, Copolla or any of those many other people who I have immense regard for.
But there’s high admiration and there’s feeling that a certain piece of work speaks to you in that indefinable way– where the boundaries between art and life get blurry, where you think you could have made this piece of work, had you enough talent.
Let me put down a few pieces of work that belong to this rare category, which I will refer to as identification. Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”. Hardy’s “A Mathematician’s apology”. Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gastby.” And yes, most of Polanski’s movies, most notably “Bitter Moon”, “Knife in the water” and “Rosemary’s baby.”
But even that does not necessarily translate into my apportioning credibility into other areas.
I identify with Hardy’s view of mathematics. But I would never claim to know him on the personal, sexual or political plane. I would never claim to speak for Rand’s view of mathematical logic, even though I know a great deal about her thoughts on those matters, or about her sexual integrity, even though the sex/SM description in “The Fountainhead” (Dominique wants Howard, yet purposely resists with all her strength and makes him conquer her) is one of my favourite passages. Nor would I claim to speak for Fitzgerald’s integrity on anything except dreams.
And it would be foolish if I did. Even with identification acquired from creations, this identification should be restricted to only those aspects of the creator which those creations tell you significantly about.
But I say that I trust Polanski when he says he didn’t coerce sex on that girl. Why do I make such a claim?
First of all, as I have already mentioned, it isn’t just that I deeply admire his work. It’s that I see things in them that I think most do not. For I identify. And that allows me to get a glimpse of some aspects of his psyche in a peculiarly strong way.
But it is not just his work. It is also his autobiography, which, whatever else one can say about it, is one of the most harrowingly honest things ever written. It also sheds an immense amount of further light on his thinking on many of these subjects.
Even with all this, I would not claim to know Polanski completely. I just claim to know some things about him that are related to sexual matters, to his vision of evil and innocence and domination, and to his personal integrity. As I mentioned, this is a composite of both knowing and identifying with his work, and to reading his memoir.
So yes, credibility in work does not necessarily translate to credibility in other arenas. But in Polanski’s case, and restricted to this particular incident, it does for me.