Her Reasons Are Not Yours

From Shakesville:

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.

Polanski’s Arrest: Why the French Are Outraged

So what if he raped a 13 year old? He made Chinatown!

Although the cultural divide between Europe and the U.S. has narrowed over the years, the legal fate of director Roman Polanski shows there are still major differences. Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland on Sept. 26 was greeted with satisfaction in the U.S., where authorities hope he will face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Europeans, meanwhile, are shocked and dismayed that an internationally acclaimed artist could be jailed for such an old offense.

“To see him thrown to the lions and put in prison because of ancient history — and as he was traveling to an event honoring him — is absolutely horrifying,” French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said after Polanski was arrested upon arrival in Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award. “There’s an America we love and an America that scares us, and it’s that latter America that has just shown us its face.” In comments that appeared to be directed at Swiss and American authorities to free Polanski, Mitterrand added that both he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy hoped for a “rapid resolution to the situation which would allow Roman Polanski to rejoin his family as quickly as possible.”

Related: