At the Huffington Post, Joan Z. Shore writes a ridiculous piece supporting Roman Polanski with this howler:
The 13-year old model “seduced” by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It’s probably 13 by now!)
Is that supposed to be funny? If so, a lot of people took it seriously — and they shouldn’t, because it’s entirely false. The age of consent in California was 18 when Polanski anally raped a 13-year-old child. And it has been 18 since 1913, as the U.S. Supreme Court explained in 1981:
California’s statutory rape law had its origins in the Statutes of Westminster enacted during the reign of Edward I at the close of the 13th century (3 Edw. 1, ch. 13 (1275); 13 Edw. 1, ch. 34 (1285)). The age of consent at that time was 12 years, reduced to 10 years in 1576 (18 Eliz. 1, ch. 7, § 4). This statute was part of the common law brought to the United States. Thus, when the first California penal statute was enacted, it contained a provision (1850 Cal.Stats., ch. 99, § 47, p. 234) that proscribed sexual intercourse with females under the age of 10. In 1889, the California statute was amended to make the age of consent 14 (1889 Cal.Stats., ch.191, § 1, p. 223). In 1897, the age was advanced to 16 (1897 Cal.Stats., ch. 139, § 1, p. 201). In 1913, it was fixed at 18, where it now remains (1913 Cal.Stats., ch. 122, § 1, p. 212).
Thanks to Slate’s Explainer for the link to the Supreme Court opinion.
Shame on Joan Z. Shore.
P.S. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation flying about with respect to this case: people saying Polanski had a “trial” (he pled guilty); that the terms of his plea bargain provided that the judge would give him time served (it left the sentence up to the judge); that he didn’t know the girl’s age (he swore under oath he did); that the age of consent was 14 (I just proved it was 18); that the statute of limitations applies (not when a defendant flees pending sentencing); and that Polanski never did it again (we don’t know that, and I don’t believe it). I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
P.P.S. As always, I speak on behalf of myself and not the L.A. County D.A., for whom I work.