Things you might have heard about the woman Roman Polanski raped when she was a 13-year-old girl:
• She’s forgiven him.
• She doesn’t want the case pursued.
• Her mother was a fame-seeker who put her in the situation.
These are all things that aren’t relevant to any discussion of why or why not Polanski should be extradited to the US to face the charges he skipped out on thirty years ago—but the real stickler of the bunch seems to be that “she doesn’t want the case pursued” one, with the argument going something like: If even the girl he raped wants to let it go, why shouldn’t we?
The simple answer for that is because justice doesn’t operate on the principle of what’s best for the victim; it operates on the principle of what’s best for the community. (That’s why prosecutors represent “the people.”) Particularly in a case of sexual assault of a minor, there is additional pressure to prosecute, even if the victim(s) don’t support the prosecution, because interviews of convicted/admitted child rapists in prisons suggest that the rapist who only rapes once and never again has about as much supporting evidence for his existence as does the unicorn. (To wit: Roman Polanski’s ensuing relationship with then-15-year-old Nastassja Kinski.) Some of those who understand this principle nonetheless argue that Polanski is now an “old man,” as if old men don’t rape. Unfortunately, they can and they do.