NOTE: This article contains disturbing and sexually explicit language. Please read at your own discretion.
Polanski has lived as a fugitive in Europe since pleading guilty in Los Angeles in 1977 to having sex with a 13-year-old girl named Samantha Geimer, who accused him of drugging her and sexually assaulting her at a party.
Jezebel re-shared audio of the interview between Tarantino and Stern in 2003, in which the Kill Bill director argued that the case was actually one of “statutory rape,” and that Geimer “wanted to have it.”
“He didn’t rape a 13 year old,” Tarantino said. “It was statutory rape. … He had sex with a minor. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down — it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can’t throw the word rape around. It’s like throwing the word ‘racist’ around. It doesn’t apply to everything people use it for.”
Tarantino continued: “And by the way, we’re talking about America’s morals, not talking about the morals in Europe and everything.”
Stern attempted to argue that this was not the case. “Wait a minute. If you have sex with a 13-year-old girl and you’re a grown man, you know that that’s wrong,” Stern said.
Tarantino then said that the young girl was “down for this.”
Many people took to Twitter to discuss Tarantino’s comments.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) February 6, 2018
In audio from 2003, Quentin Tarantino defends Roman Polanski: "I don't believe that's rape…Not at 13. Not for these 13-year-old party girls" https://t.co/WVic6g24DA
— Claire Phipps (@Claire_Phipps) February 6, 2018
When Howard Stern is the voice and reason and dignity… Tarantino insists what happened to Samantha Geimer happened because she wanted it. His evidence? “I know something about this…. I read Roman Polanski’s book.” https://t.co/WUy8dGFv2g
— Kelly Jane Torrance (@KJTorrance) February 6, 2018
This is absolutely disgusting. It made me ill. I don't even have words to describe how awful this is. https://t.co/J7aAjJ6H2d
— Lisa Bee (@leebee4life) February 6, 2018
I had missed this Howard Stern interview with QT in which he defended Roman Polanski and said that Samantha Geimer "wanted it" when she was 13 and drugged. I MAY NEVER STOP SIGHING. https://t.co/NnP9xDxq2x (h/t @warrenleightTV)
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) February 6, 2018
— tonialbertson (@tonialbertson) February 6, 2018
Last April, a Los Angeles County judge denied Polanski’s latest effort to resolve the 40-year-old statutory rape case, saying that the filmmaker cannot be sentenced in absentia because he remains a fugitive from justice.
Geimer was one of Polanski’s victims; she was a 13-year-old junior high student when Polanski, then 43, took her to actor Jack Nicholson’s house for a photo shoot. He gave her champagne and part of a Quaalude pill and, according to testimony from Geimer, forced her to have sex with him.
After pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, Polanski was sent to a state prison for a 90-day diagnostic evaluation. Judge Laurence Rittenband, who was presiding over the case at the time, said the evaluation would help him reach a fair sentencing decision. The director was released after 42 days, with prison officials saying he did not need additional prison time.
Rittenband, facing fierce media pressure, went against the recommendation and decided to send Polanski back to prison for an additional 48 days.
Polanski then hopped a flight to Europe and never returned.
In August, a woman identified only by her first name, Robin, accused Polanski of “sexually victimizing” her in 1973, when she was 16 years old. In 2010, British actor Charlotte Lewis said Polanski sexually abused her at the same age: 16.
In an October interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the Zurich Film Festival, Polanski said he considered the Geimer case to be over and done with.
“As you know, Samantha Geimer has been asking for over 30 years for this thing to end,” he said. “But, I’m sorry the judges who dealt with it the last 40 years were corrupted, one covering for the other. So … maybe one of them will [eventually] stop doing it.”
“As far as what I did: It’s over. I pleaded guilty,” he continued. “I went to jail. I came back to the United States to do it, people forget about that, or don’t even know. I then was locked up here [in Zurich] after this festival. So in the sum, I did about four or five times more than what was promised to me.”
In total, five women have accused Polanski of sexual assault.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
—With files from Chris Jancelewicz