Home » Man convicted of raping girl, 11, in case that led to change in French law

Man convicted of raping girl, 11, in case that led to change in French law

by Mahmmod Shar

Case was reinvestigated after outcry over reduced charge, and age of consent was set at 15


The accused, who has not been named, admitted having sex with the secondary school pupil in 2017 after meeting her in a park. He was 28 at the time and insisted the girl had consented.

Late on Friday, the man was found guilty of raping a minor and given an eight-year prison sentence.

At an earlier trial almost five years ago, there was public outrage after a charge of rape was reduced to sexual assault. The subsequent political row led to a minimum age of consent of 15 being established in France in April last year.

Until then, French law had required an accuser under the age of 15 to show there was “violence, constraint, threat or surprise”, in the absence of which investigators classified the incident as the lesser offence of sexual abuse. Now the law deems sex with anyone under the age of 15 as automatically non-consensual, and therefore rape.

A new investigation was ordered. As the law cannot be applied retrospectively, the case was judged under the previous legislation. The man was accused of rape after magistrates decided there was “moral constraint and surprise” in his actions.

The trial, which began on Wednesday and was closed to the public and press, was judged by a professional panel of five magistrates without a jury. A number of child protection and feminist associations that were civil parties in the case were allowed to attend.

According to the indictment, the man first spoke to the girl in a park near the entrance to her school in Montmagny, in the Val-d’Oise north of Paris, in April 2017. A few days later they met again and he suggested he “teach her to kiss … and more”, then invited her back to his apartment nearby. The girl did not refuse and followed him.

She was performing oral sex on him in the stairwell on the ninth floor of the social housing block when the pair were interrupted by a caretaker. The girl then went to the man’s apartment two floors below where “penetration without violence” took place.


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