We’ve just come off air and I want to address an issue that has obviously upset some of you… the use of the word rape.
We cannot approve comments on this blog which refer to Roman Polanski as a rapist.
Roman Polanski admitted having sex with a minor, which under California law is also called statutory rape. He arranged a plea bargain with his victim’s lawyers, so in exchange for pleading guilty to the charge of sex with a minor, (also known as statutory rape in California) the greater charge of rape was dropped.
He has not been convicted of rape, therefore to call him a rapist is legally incorrect and he could arguably be within his rights to sue the BBC for defamation if we publish a comment which identifies him as such. Especially as any defamation case would not be held in California, but here in Britain where the charge of statutory rape does not exist.
I know that to many of you there is no difference in your mind between statutory rape (sex with a minor in California) and rape. However, legally, there is.
That is why we are not publishing any comments which call him a rapist. We are not diminishing the crime Polanski admitted to – the very serious crime of having sex with a minor, or statutory rape – but for the reasons spelt out above, and because both the blog and our programme are read and listened to all around the world, we can’t allow the use of the word.