Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl 30 some years ago in California, then fled the country.  The woman, without forgiving Polanski, doesn't want to pursue the matter further.  Leading film and political figures expressed outrage when Polanski was arrested recently in Zurich.  What should be done with him?

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, September 27, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

Should Roman Polanski Be Imprisoned?

PT bloggers have been so outraged at the deceased John Phillips for having sex with his daughter throughout her twenties, do they have room left for outrage for Roman Polanski?

Polanski was arrested yesterday arriving at Switzerand's Zurich Film Festival where the 76-year-old director of "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown," and "The Pianist" (for which he received an Oscar in absentia) was to receive a lifetime achievement award.

Polanski went to elaborate lengths 32 years ago, when he was 43, to seduce a 13-year-old aspiring model he had met originally at a restaurant with her mother, and whom he promised to assist in her career. After hours taking pictures, then plying the girl with alcohol and a Quaalude, over her initial objections, he had sex with her, including intercourse, performing oral sex on the girl, and sodomizing her.

Polanski was charged with sex with a minor and forcible rape, and spent 42 days in jail under "evaluation." When a plea arrangement which would have released him for time served fell through, Polanski fled the U.S.

In France, where Polanski has lived since leaving this country, culture minister Frederic Mitterrand announced that he was "dumbfounded" by Polanski's arrest (Bill O'Reilly will love that one), and said that he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them." Prominent movie-industry figures have expressed similar feelings.

Along with escaping the Holocaust in Poland, Polansky suffered through the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of Charles Manson's acolytes.

In 2005, the girl - now married and mother of three children - declared : "He took sex from me and my innocence. I don't think it occurred to him that someone wouldn't want sex with him."

What prompted her statement at that time was Polanski's suing the magazine Vanity Fair for reporting that Polanski wheedled sex from a blonde model at a restaurant around the time of his wife's funeral. Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper's Magazine, testified "I watched as he slid his hand inside her thigh and began a long honeyed spiel which ended with the promise 'And I will make another Sharon Tate out of you.' "

When Polansky nonetheless won his suit in a British court (he testified by phone from France in the trial), the then-39-year-old woman exclaimed, "The libel case makes no sense. I really couldn't understand why he took out the lawsuit in the first place. Surely a man like this hasn't got a reputation to tarnish?"

What should be done about Polanski, who is now being detained by Swiss authorities? In recognition of his age, his accomplishments, the maturation of his victim - who has stated she doesn't want Polanski imprisoned - should he simply be forgiven his crime and allowed to live out his life?

Is this in any way a matter for psychological consideration?