Le Figaro Nantes
The sighs and exasperated comments of part of the public did not go unnoticed, as did the tears of some, during a long and trying day of hearing this Wednesday at the court of Nantes. The parents of twelve little girls saying they were sexually assaulted between 2014 and 2017, when they were between 3 and 6 years old, by an animator of a leisure center in La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée), will certainly not have obtained the explanations they could have hoped for. The confusing remarks, the confused arguments and the casual attitude of the accused marked the more than eight hours of adversarial debate.
As for the court decision, parents and their children will have to wait a little longer to get it. Seven years after the alleged facts and a previous referral of the case in September 2021, the judgment was reserved until June 29. Enough to provoke a last salvo of annoyance on the benches of the civil parties, immediately repressed by the president of the court. Leaving the courtroom, the parents' lawyers tried to explain the situation arising from the complexity of the case. At the heart of the case: the reliability and veracity of the children's testimonies in the face of the accused's denials.
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Obsession with tights
At the helm, the latter, dressed in a blue jacket and glasses with transparent frames, has constantly changed his version. Under judicial control after spending 12 months in pre-trial detention between 2017 and 2018, the thirty-year-old did not vary on one point: he confessed to having caressed the tights of a dozen girls. But for him, there was nothing sexual about it. "What interests me is touching the pantyhose for texture," he repeated. On the other hand, stroking tights on a mannequin has never attracted him in the same way. "I have trouble understanding why you touch the tights," asked the president, tired of hearing the addiction to tights come back in each of his sentences. "It's called fetishism," replied the respondent.
During his hearing, which took place during the morning, judges, prosecutors and lawyers for the civil parties, tried to push him to his limits to make him aware of his actions. Each time, the same scenario was repeated: the children described kisses on the body, on the mouth, "hands on the kitty" or "fingers in the foufoune" at nap time or during toilet visits. According to the concordant testimonies of the children, the animator who "touched the zizi" at the time of the facts, was their "lover" and their relationship was to remain a "secret". The situation would have lasted about three years.
During this time, girls' behaviour was changing as described by parents. Stunning, nightmares, obstacles when washing private parts: in February 2017, one of the little girls reported health problems. "In the hospital, his body speaks. No doctor is able to know what she has. How does her body invent things when she is only four years old?" asked one of the lawyers for the civil parties. The answer of the one who has never remained silent: "I do not know why".
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Fetishist but not pedophile
On his computer, investigators also found photos of girls from the recreation center. In front of the judges, he also admits to having masturbated on photos of children in tights. Searches such as "Teenager in panties" or "Teenager sucks a cucumber" were also found in her web browsing history. The respondent stated that he was aware that he was a paedophile. It is still necessary to agree on the definition of the word. "What is a pedophile?" the president asked. "It's when you see the children naked," he retorted. "It is to have a sexual attraction for children," resumed the president in front of the defendant who was once again naïve. "So I'm not a pedophile. I'm not attracted to children."
A psychiatric expert described him as an individual with a "pedophile inclination," in addition to his fetish for tights. The psychiatrist made no connection between the sexual abuse and his childhood. The psychologist highlighted the abandonment he had suffered making him stay at a child's stage and preventing him from investing in adult relationships. Born in Brazil, he was reportedly dropped off at a house door before being taken in by another family who sent him to an orphanage. Then, at the age of six months, he was adopted in France. The issue of tights could be related to the fact that he spent his time in his adoptive mother's petticoats.
Since taking medication, the defendant - who works in the food industry and lives with his parents - said his passion for tights was fading. The one who does not want to have children has certified: "I wish that the 'sticky' subject was no longer in my life." As for the accusations he must answer this Wednesday, he refutes them and evokes a kind of conspiracy against him on the part of the girls and the parents.
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'Denial of guilt'
A speech that irritated the lawyers of the civil parties. For nearly two hours, the dozen of them pointed out the "lies" of the defendant. Maître Anne Bouillon castigated his "refusal of guilt", experienced as an "additional concern" about his ability to draw a line under his "deviances". She also spoke of the "indelible stain" or "invisible tattoo" left on girls, some of whom have experienced difficulties at school afterwards.
Maître Peggy Boucher-Chiale returned to the difficulties experienced by parents following the revelations: "They blame themselves and have the feeling of having left their daughter in the clutches of a predator". Many of them have also resorted to psychological follow-up, some of which continue to this day. Another lawyer pointed out that the defendant had "passed four times his CAP early childhood" and took refuge behind a "passion for children" which, according to her, is more of an "obsession" that would make girls "objects of desire".
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The anger of the prosecutor
During his closing arguments, the prosecutor Thierry Rolland, who raised his voice several times while looking in the direction of the accused, said he was "surprised" by the defense of the thirty-year-old: "I find very short the argument of lying children who would be taken up in their accusations by their parents." Vituperating the speech of the attraction of tights, he insisted on the "impulses" and "attraction" of the former animator for children. He also referred to reports of psychological expertise conducted with girls who report a "psychic break-in" and "astonishment".
Clearly upset against the attitude of the accused, he explained that he had changed his position during the hearing and no longer wanted to request a probationary stay with obligation of care. "It is out of the question that he goes home tonight considering that he is not responsible for anything in his head," he said. In the process, he asked for a sentence of four years' imprisonment and a five-year socio-judicial follow-up, accompanied by registration in the automated judicial register of perpetrators of sexual and violent offences (Fijais), and a permanent ban on engaging in contact with minors.
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The floor went last to the defense lawyer since his client did not wish to speak again. Saying he understood "the rage" and "fury" of the families, Maître Henri Carpentier highlighted the "death threats" of which the defendant had been victim "on social networks". He asked the court "not to get carried away" by the "emotional blackmail" of the prosecutor and to rely solely on the facts. Referring to the Outreau case in his pleading as a "judicial fact", he questioned the court on "the collection of children's speeches".
On this point, the investigators would have made a "major error" according to his analysis because of a "distortion of reality" by resorting to a call for evidence by "press" and then the establishment of a "questionnaire" oriented to collect the stories of the parents. He also insisted on "the absence of probative material" by presenting a map of the premises and a schedule of presence that would clear his client of certain alleged facts. He also stressed that "no child pornography content" was found in his client's mobile phone while this had been the case in that of one of his colleagues at the time. What add trouble in a case that does not lack it.