Two rapes and two open-air attempts in the streets of Paris. Impulsive, random and particularly traumatic attacks for the victims. Laurence, Nathalie, Julia and Sandrine (the names have been changed) were allegedly targeted by the same man between May 2012 and June 2013 in the capital's XXth arrondissement. In a final indictment rendered on April 15, the Paris prosecutor's office requested the return to the assizes of a 34-year-old Moroccan for two rapes by digital penetration and two attempted rapes. The investigating judge in charge of the file must soon rule by following these requisitions or, on the contrary, by deciding to reclassify the facts.
Elusive for more than six years, the defendant ended up being identified after a long investigation by the 2nd district of the judicial police (DPJ). In pre-trial detention since February 2019, Abdellah O. recognizes three sexual assaults, but denies any attempted rape. As for the fourth, the oldest, he claims to have no memory of it.
A systematic procedure
At the time, the young man was still single. Then aged 26, unknown to the police, he worked in a bakery in eastern Paris. Obliged to get up early for professional reasons, he also seems to have the habit of lurking in the streets of Paris at the end of the night on the lookout for young unaccompanied women. He is thus suspected of having acted at 5.30 a.m. (in April 2013), 5.45 a.m. (December 2012) and 6 a.m. (June 2013) in streets close to the Gambetta, Ménilmontant and Pyrénées metro stations.
According to the testimonies of the victims, its operating mode was rudimentary and systematic. Targeting women wearing skirts, this slim man of 1.75 m followed them for a certain time on foot, then generally started to run and rushed on them by attacking them from the back. In three of the four cases, he managed to put them down, face down. Otherwise, he firmly grabbed his victim with one arm.
According to the conclusions of the investigation, he thus committed two digital penetrations. In the first case, a gynecological examination proved the existence of an injury to the genitals. For the second, no medical confirmation could be added to the file. With regard to the other two complainants, the facts are qualified at this stage as an attempt at sexual penetration "having failed to have its effect [...] only through the victim's resistance".
"The means of investigation were initially very summary"
Often, the cries of the young women ended up alerting the neighbors and putting the aggressor on the run. On one occasion, however, the young man released his victim on his own, troubled, it seems, by his words. Nathalie, lying face down on the ground, legs apart, will say that she had initially given up struggling, fearing to be even more abused. The baker would have taken the opportunity to mimic a sexual act by rubbing against it. Nathalie would have begged him to stop, whispering that he had already suffered an attack of the same type. Abdellah O. allegedly helped her up and then apologized, explaining that "he had no wife and did not make love". Before fleeing.
Although similar and located within a one kilometer radius, the four cases were not immediately reconciled. The one concerning Nathalie, which occurred in December 2012, was even closed without action by the Paris public prosecutor's office a year later. “The facts suffered by my client, a digital penetration, may not have been considered as sufficiently serious at the time, points out Me Pauline Rongier. In any case, the means of investigation were initially very summary and it took five years before a judicial investigation was finally opened. "
He disputes any attempted rape
Before arriving there, the police of the 2nd DPJ patiently dug a track: that of a Nokia telephone lost by the aggressor at the place of an attempted rape, rue des Prairies (XXth). Little by little, by finding the regular recipients of calls and SMS sent by this phone, the ex-baker is finally identified. Then located in Zaragoza (Spain) in January 2018. Now married and father of two young children, the man was finally extradited to France a year later, in February 2019.
Meanwhile, the four cases, initially disjointed, became one in the eyes of the police and justice. Subjected to genetic expertise, the suspect was then confused thanks to the DNA traces found on the phone as on the tights of three of the four complainants.
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During his interrogations, he recognized touching of the buttocks on only three victims and contested any digital penetration and any attempted rape.
Young women still struggling to rebuild
To explain his behavior, Abdellah O. highlights his "stupidity" linked, according to him, to his young age, his virginity and the difference between Parisian life and Moroccan culture where women remain veiled, withdrawn from male desires. He even thought, he explains, that it was "normal" to have sex with strangers on the street. His psychiatric expertise revealed nothing abnormal. "My client is presumed innocent," says his lawyer, Romuald Sayagh. It is therefore advisable to remain cautious, the more so as the facts against which I am accused do not seem to me sufficiently characterized. "
For their part, young women are still struggling to rebuild themselves. One of them has changed physical appearance. Two others would still find it very difficult today to maintain a peaceful relationship with a man. Finally, the fourth reportedly adopted "an unbridled sexual attitude" after her assault in 2012 and developed an alcohol dependence.
Finally, an unknown factor remains on the actual number of victims that Abdellah O could have caused. "There is a form of self-censorship on the part of victims of sexual offenses," said Moad Nefati, the lawyer for one of the complainants . In this case in particular, the operating mode of the respondent suggests that other women could have brought civil proceedings. "