French news

French TV News Presenter Faces Multiple Sexual Offense Allegations | France

Twenty women have come forward to openly accuse one of France’s best-known TV news presenters of sexual harassment and abuse – including rape – following an investigation by French journalists.

Patrick Poivre d’Arvor – known as PPDA – has faced a number of charges which emerged after a writer first went to police to accuse him of rape, in February of last year. The investigation was later dropped.

The news presenter responded by announcing last month that he was taking legal action against 16 women who had spoken to detectives for “slanderous denunciation”.

Tuesday, the Mediapart investigative website interviewed 18 women – 16 of whom prepared to be named and filmed for the show PPDA: 30 Years of Silence, and two who attended but hid their faces. Two other alleged victims have been named and filmed talking about their encounters with the TV star separately.

The majority of alleged sexual offences, which would have started in 1980, are today out of time for criminal prosecution under French law. Two of the alleged victims, now aged 28 to 63, were minors at the time. Many of the alleged assaults allegedly took place in the TV station presenter’s office after he had finished reading the prime time news.

Poivre d’Arvor, 74, has always denied any wrongdoing and insisted that his relationships with women were consensual and part of a ritual of “seduction” without violence or coercion. He called the allegations “false from start to finish”.

Florence Porcel. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

A preliminary police investigation was launched in February last year when writer and journalist Florence Porcel, 38, charged Poivre d’Arvor with two counts of rape in 2004 and 2009. The investigation was dropped four months later because a judge ruled there was no insufficient evidence on either side to file a complaint and that the allegations were beyond the legal deadline.

However, media coverage of Porcel’s accusation led 22 other women to testify before the police. Seventeen of them filed complaints, eight of them alleging rape, but the cases exceeded the time limit for prosecution provided for by French law and were not prosecuted. Three other cases are under investigation.

Mediapart reporter Marine Turchi said the women had not met as a group before the show was taped and most had never spoken publicly before. Most said they had not spoken at the time of the alleged assaults and rapes – except in some cases to family and friends – because they feared not being believed or hurting their careers.

Nonce Paolini, the former general manager of TF1, who terminated Poivre d’Arvor’s contract in 2008, told Mediapart he was unaware of the allegations of abuse and harassment, which he described as “revolting”. “If we had known anything, there would have been a punishment. Obviously we didn’t know that,” he said.

Paolini added: “I want to tell these women that their suffering cannot leave anyone indifferent, especially not me as a man, nor as a former leader. [of the company]. I hope they will be able to have their case examined by the courts.

Porcel said the women had formed a support group. “We wanted to show that we are united, that we are solid, that we face this together and that Patrick Poivre d’Arvor no longer scares us. It also seems important to say that I am still standing and intend to continue to stand. Porcel is taking a new legal action against Poivre d’Arvor.

Teacher Margaux Coquil-Gleizes described how she met Poivre d’Arvor when she was 17 and an aspiring novelist. She said he invited her to his hotel room. “I was young, naive, impressionable, flattered by the attention that Poivre d’Arvor would bring to my writing.”

Once in the bedroom, she said the TV star “pushed me onto the bed, he undressed, he took off my clothes and penetrated me. At the time I was paralyzed. It took me a very long time to realize that it was a surprise rape.

Journalist Justine Ducharne said she did not want to discuss the details of what happened to her but described it as “horrifying”.

Last year, Poivre d’Arvor accused women of hiding behind anonymity. “No one dared come forward, face to face, to tell me what I did was not acceptable.” He did not accept Mediapart’s invitation to take part in the two-hour show.

In his 43-page defamation complaint against 16 of his accusers, Poivre d’Arvor deplores “a return to puritanism and censorship cleverly disguised as the alleged protection of women”. He said: “Since the excitement generated by the #MeToo wave, the release of women’s voices has unfortunately had its fair share of excess and abuse.”

He also claimed that women seek glory and revenge. “No credit can be given to these 16 women, journalists or writers in search of notoriety, who suddenly became feminists to support a former colleague, a friend, or even a simple activist for the cause of women”, he declared. . “It’s about revenge from women who haven’t received more consideration, or even a look, from a man they once looked up to.

“[This] today makes respondents who have been rejected or ignored very bitter, a bitterness that leads them to commit, out of belated revenge, the crime of slanderous denunciation.

Turchi said Poivre d’Arvor and his lawyers were approached to participate in the program. “We would have liked him to speak out and we asked him to do so, but he refused,” she said.

Poivre d’Arvor’s lawyer, Philippe Naepels, had not responded to the Guardian at the time of writing.