Hollywood is shocked, shocked that a 40 year old man who drugged and raped and sodomized a 13 year old girl despite her pleas to stop might actually face punishment.

I was a doctor when few women were in medicine (the year I graduated, only 6% of physicians were female). So I’ve seen more than my share of these cases.

Reality check, please.

Sexual abuse is not an all or nothing thing: if we jailed every boy who made our 15 year old patients pregnant, the jails would be full. Yes, you read sob stories about poor teenagers being arrested for under-aged sex, but if you are aware that over 30,000 teenagers under 15 get pregnant every year, you know that there is a lot of sex going on, and few people are being prosecuted for it. And yes, I’ve prescribed the pill for 14 year olds who were sexually active.

We docs use common sense in all of this.

If the father is a boyfriend, we don’t report the case. One exception: if he is an older man who sought her out for sex (i.e. a sexual predator) and is known by us to be a serial predator of teenaged girls, we might. But even then, most cases are not reported, and fewer cases are prosecuted.

Not only are few cases of under-aged sexual intercourse reported, but many cases of date rape never get to the courts. I’ll give three examples.

I had one girl forcibly “date raped” but didn’t come in until five days later. I recommended she seek counseling but warned her that I doubted they’d prosecute the case (they didn’t).

I treated another teenager who was sodomized while sleeping it off at a friends house. Again, no prosecution was done.

I had a third girl who was raped by an older man who she talked to on the computer, and when they met, he raped her. Again, the cops didn’t prosecute (she had just turned 16). The cops knew he had done the same to at least two other women, but since he could claim “consent”, they were waiting until they had a case they could prove.

So although Mr. Polanski was only convicted of one such action, one has to keep in mind that a lot of similar cases are not prosecuted. Does this mean we are being unfair to him?  That is what the Hollywood defenders of Mr. Polanski seem to be implying. Of course, there is another possibility: That other such cases involving him might never have come to the attention of the police.

Now on to the second problem with the Polanski case: Drugging women to have intercourse is wrong.

Here in the Philippines, the activists got Private Smith convicted of rape because the Filipina girl involved was not a sex worker, merely a girl who had drank too much. The conviction was seen by local feminists as a triumph for women’s rights, but of course when things calmed down “Nicole” changed her story and Private Smith was freed.

But Smith only had sex with a woman who did her own drinking. In contrast, Polanski gave the child alcohol and the sleeping pill Quaalude (a potentially fatal combination) to enable intercourse.

And, yes, I’ve treated several women after they were drugged and/or raped.

Luckily, often when the woman realizes she is feeling strange, her friends bring her to the emergency room. They are the lucky ones.

But I’ve had several other cases where the woman went to a party and didn’t remember anything the next morning. They came in for the “morning after” pill and an STD check, but of course although the cases were reported, there was no suspect or prosecution, partly because they couldn’t remember, but also because such cases are notoriously difficult to prove.

The final accusation against Polanski is that he had sex with the girl despite her pleas to stop, and this included that he sodomized her.

Except for hookers, I haven’t met any women who “enjoyed” sodomy: indeed, even women who have agree to “normal” intercourse will cry rape at this type of humiliation.

Again, those like Whoopie Goldberg who say: it wasn’t really “rape-rape” forget this part of his deed.

Now let us go onto the victim: She has settled for money, has “gotten over” the trauma, and doesn’t want the shame of another trial.

I don’t blame her.

This is another reason that most rapes never go to court: Most of my patients who were sexually abused  say that the court case, especially the cross examination where the defense lawyer tries to trick them and calls them a liar in public, was in many ways worse than the original abuse.

That is why often the cops and the child’s family settle for a “plea bargain” agreement, to save the girls the stress of a court case.

In summary, the dirty little secret is that rape and sexual abuse of under-aged girls is often not reported, and like most cases of forced intercourse, often when it is reported, it is not prosecuted.

The last question is about repeat offenders. How many offenders continue their actions? The answer: no one knows.

Remember what I wrote about most sexual abuse/rape never being reported? So often a serial rapist will be convicted of one case of sexual abuse and cry to the press that his punishment was for a single case of simple case of consensual intercourse where the girl changed her mind.

On the other hand, a single case of date rape under the influence of alcohol by an otherwise respectable boy might never occur again.

The problem, of course, is that we just don’t know, because offenders lie.

In the 1970’s, the idea was to “cure” sexual offenders if non violent, and one result of this was the sexual abuse crisis of the Catholic church, where bishops were told that these priests had been “cured” and would not repeat their actions.

Now we probably go too far the other direction.

So I have a question for the press who is going around finding all those sympathetic people in Hollywood who claim poor Mr Polanski is being prosecuted unfairly.

Has Roman Polanski repented and lived a responsible life since this incident? Was this a one time incident at that time, and has he never harmed or exploited any women in the 35 years since then? One really longs for an intrepid reporter to look into this.

Or, Ann Althouse wonders,  is sexual abuse (aka “casting couches”) so common in Hollywood that no one there thinks drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old girl is a big deal?

Sorry, but Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post has the story about right:

This isn’t about a genius who is being hounded for flouting society’s hidebound conventions. It’s about a rich and powerful man who used his fame and position to assault — in every sense, to violate — an innocent child.

And it’s about a man who ran away rather than face the consequences of his actions…That’s the sort of protagonist, a great director like Polanski must realize, who doesn’t deserve a happy ending.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes about medical matters on HeyDoc Xanga blog.

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