What of The Victim’s Wishes?

The U.S. Justice Department as well as the L.A. County District Attorney are angry with Switzerland for refusing to proceed with Roman Polanski’s extradition. The European press paints a different picture, of course. It’s an interesting case because Polanski’s guilt is not the issue. The main issue is time served and time remaining for having drugged and raped a 13-year old over 30 years ago. Given that Polanski himself was a victim of Charles Manson and his gang who murdered his pregnant wife, I am willing to err on the side of forgiveness or at least caution. What stands out, though, is the role of the victim in this case. The 13- year old, now a grown woman, wants the case dropped, has said so publicly and does not believe Polanski to be a threat. In most cases the victims have a say so. They convey their wishes to the District Attorney and have views and feelings that often decide how a case goes forward. They testify at sentencing hearings and share what punishment they believe ought to be imposed. In this instance, however, the wishes of the victim have been ignored. And it raises some questions, for example, had Polanski not been a celebrity, would the victim’s wishes have been handled differently?