In 1977, the filmmaker Roman Polanski asked the mother of a 13-year-old girl named Samantha Gailey if he could photograph her daughter for French Vogue. The mom agreed and the young girl privately posed topless for the famous director, which she later said made her feel uncomfortable. In a second private photo session with Polanski at the Los Angeles home of Jack Nicholson, he offered her champagne and a qualude while he photographed her. Polanski then raped her vaginally, anally and orally while she repeatedly asked him to stop.
Samantha Gailey, who now goes by Samantha Geimer, is now publishing a memoir, The Girl: A Life In The Shadow Of Roman Polanski.
Polanski plead guilty to “unlawful sex with a minor” and served 72 days in jail before fleeing America. He has been living abroad since 1978 and continuing to make films. Polanski was arrested in Switzerland back in 2009 with the intention of being extradited; Switzerland refused in 2010. For her part, Geimer filed a civil suit against Polanski in 1988. He was required to turn over all the photographs he took of Geimer, as well as the rights to those photographs, and sentenced to a payment of half a million dollars in damages, plus interest. For the most part, Geimer has tried to minimize press attention over the past 30 years, explaining that she forgave Polanski and wanted to put the incident behind her.
No more: now she wants to reclaim her voice as the then-child at the center of one of Hollywood’s biggest scandals. And she is doing it with a photograph of her 13-year-old self which was actually taken by Roman Polanski weeks before the rape occurred.
Personally, I didn’t read the image at first glance as either “startling” or “disturbing,” as they were described by the Hollywood Reporter, until I learned that the picture was taken by her rapist himself. The image read as an innocent young girl who is not inherently sexualized — hence why it’s criminal and gross that an adult man pursued her sexually. But my friend Megan Carpentier read the image differently, seeing her lidded eyes and parted lips as sexual. “I guess I see the predator behind the camera, and what he wants me to see, which is disturbing,” she wrote me in an email.
The Girl goes on sale September 17. I, for one, will most definitely be reading it. How rare that we hear a rape victim’s story in the first place, but especially the story of a woman who is taking a bold step to control her own narrative in the face of a celebrity- and media-circus. As she wrote in 2012 when she announced the memoir:
“I am more than a ‘Sex Victim Girl,’ a tag the media pinned on me. I offer my story now without rage, but with purpose — to share a tale that in its detail will reclaim my identity. I am not a stick figure I know what it is like to be a woman and a victim in the realest possible way.”
If she wanted to give voice to her trauma and tell her story with rage, that would be alright with me.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.