A decade or so ago, back when I was writing for The Washington Post’s She the People blog, I once wrote a post about Roman Polanski’s most famous child rape victim, Samantha Geimer. I had forgotten all about this article, as it was one of many that I wrote during the two-year life span of that column.
But in recent months, something in the news prompted me to remember this piece, and I was filled with shame. In a curious twist of fate, around the time I began to reflect on what I’d written, a stranger wrote to me, asking me if I felt that blog had “aged well.”
I wrote to The Washington Post’s opinion page, asking if I could post a retraction. They never got back to me. So I decided to post my retraction here, as it struck me as the right place to own my mistake.
I am very grateful to the #metoo movement for schooling all of us about the way forward out of silence about different forms of sexual harassment and abuse. That includes those of us who thought we knew better, but didn’t.
Roughly a decade ago, I published a post for the Washington Post’s She The People blog about the Roman Polanski sex scandal in the 1970’s. The hook for the piece was a forthcoming memoir by Samantha Geimer, a child rape victim of Polanski’s, who was coming forward to assert her identity and reclaim her name.
The title of my piece was Roman Polanski’s Victim Finally Speaks, But I Wish She Wouldn’t. In it, I expressed sympathy for Ms.Geimer’s plight. But I also voiced concern that in coming forward with her story, she and her mother would be pilloried by all sorts of prurient people who would judge both of them for something that happened a very long time ago. I suggested that while Ms. Geimer was indeed a victim of a crime, she might be better off not re-opening old wounds.
I profoundly regret having written that article. Ms. Geimer had every right to speak her truth. As did Monica Lewinsky, who is also named in the article as someone who had been humiliated for being honest with the public about her sexual harrassment ordeal.
I thoroughly admire both women for being willing to withstand the heat of public scrutiny and opprobrium to make their voices heard. I apologize unreservedly to them both for having ever suggested that they should have done otherwise.