NBC's Matt Lauer gave a "Today" show guest a free pass when she insisted that director/criminal/former fugitive Roman Polanski did not rape a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Debra Tate, sister of Polanski's late wife Sharon Tate, told Lauer, "There is, as I said, rape and there is rape. It was determined Roman did not forcibly have sex with this young woman. It was a consensual matter."
Lauer's response was simply, "Right."
Tate continued, "I am a victims' advocate, and I know the difference." Lauer agreed, saying "And I understand that, and yes, there is a difference."
Tate was the latest in a parade of Polanski defenders to appear on network television.
At no point in the interview did Lauer bring up the grand jury testimony of the 13-year-old girl which refuted the idea that Polanski's encounter was not "forcible" and that it was consensual. Only later did he note that Polanski did commit statutory rape.
According to the girl's testimony, Polanski performed vaginal, anal, and oral sex on the girl while she was under the influence of champagne and a part of a Quaalude that he provided for her.
The victim, Samantha Gailey, clearly did not give her consent to the sexual acts according to her own statements. She told the grand jury that before Polanski began having sex with her, "I was mostly just on and off saying, ‘No stop.' But I wasn't fighting really because I, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go." She also testified that Polanski did say anything to her when she said, "No."
Gailey described her state of being as Polanski performed oral sex on her:
Q. Why do you believe that you were under the influence at that time?
A. I can barely remember anything that happened.
Q. Is there any other reason?
A. No. I was kind of dizzy, you know, like things were kind of blurry sometimes. I was having trouble with my coordination like walking and stuff.
Earlier in her statement Gailey testified about Polanski giving her champagne:
Q. At any time did Mr. Polanski offer you something to drink?
A. Yes. I think I said I was thirsty. And he went in the kitchen and this refrigerator, it was full of juice and wine and soda and all this stuff. And he got out - he got a bottle of champagne. And he said, "Should I open it?" And I went, "I don't care," you know. And so he asked the woman if it was all right and she said it was.
Q. So did he open the bottle of champagne?
Q. Do you know what kind of champagne it was?
A. It was 1971 something.
Q. What happened after he opened the bottle of champagne?
A. He poured three glasses, one for each of us.
Gailey also testified that Polanski gave her part of a Quaalude:
A. We went into the bathroom before and he took this little yellow thing. I don't know what it was. It was some kind of container. And he had - he walked in. When I walked in he had the container. And he had a pill broken into three parts. And he said, "Is this a Quaalude?" And I went, "Yes." And he says, "Oh, do you think I will be able to drive if I take it?" And I went, "I don't know," you know. He says, "Well, should I take it?" I went, "I don't know." He goes, "Well, I guess I will," and he took it. And he says, "Do you want part?" And I went, "No." And he says, -- oh at that time I went, "Okay," because - I don't know."
Q. Why did you take it?
A. I don't know. I think I must have been pretty drunk or else I wouldn't have.
Q. Before you took the part of the tablet, had you had more champagne than you have testified to?
A. I told you I didn't know how much because I was drinking some of his too. I just kept - I just kept drinking it for pictures and you know.
Q. The poses that you made were with the champagne glass in your hand?
Q. And was there champagne in the glass when your picture was taken?
Q. While the pictures were being taken were you drinking champagne?
Polanski may not have forced Gailey at gun or knife point to have sex with him, but he still ignored her pleas to stop and provided her with drugs and alcohol.
Ultimately, it was "forcible" sex and Lauer should have called Tate out on her statement.