nobody movie_ French TV News Host Faces Multiple Sex Offense Allegations | France

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

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

The news anchor responded by announcing legal action last month against 16 women who spoke to detectives for “slanderous denunciation.”

On Tuesday the investigative website Mediapart interviewed 18 women – 16 of whom were preparing to be named and filmed for the program PPDA: 30 Years of Silence and two who were present but hid their faces. Two other alleged victims were named and filmed speaking separately about their encounters with the TV star.

Most of the alleged sex crimes, which reportedly began in 1980, are now statute-barred under French law. Two of the alleged victims, aged between 28 and 63 today, were minors at the time. Many of the alleged assaults reportedly took place in the TV presenter’s office after he was reading the prime-time news.

Poivre d’Arvor, 74, has always denied any wrongdoing, insisting his relationships with the women are consensual and part of a ritual of “seduction” that does not involve violence or coercion. He described the allegations as “false from start to finish”.

Florence porcelain. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

A preliminary police inquiry was made started in February last year when writer and journalist Florence Porcel, 38, accused Poivre d’Arvor of two counts of rape in 2004 and 2009. The investigation was dropped four months later after a judge said there was insufficient evidence on either side to bring charges and the allegations were beyond the legal time limit.

However, Media coverage of Porcel’s allegation led to 22 other women coming forward to testify to the police. Seventeen of them filed formal complaints, eight of them alleging rape, but the cases fell outside the prosecution deadline under French law and were not pursued. Three other cases are currently under investigation.

Mediapart journalist Marine Turchi said the women had not met as a group before the show was taped and most had never spoken in public before. Most of them said they had not spoken out at the time of the alleged assault and rape – except in some cases to family and friends – because they feared they would not be believed or that it would hurt their careers.

Nonce Paolini, the former CEO of TF1, who ended Poivre d’Arvor’s contract in 2008, told Mediapart he was unaware of the alleged abuse and harassment, which he described as “repugnant”. “If we had known something, there would have been punishment. Obviously we didn’t know that,” he said.

Paolini added: “I want to say to these women that their suffering cannot leave anyone indifferent, especially me, neither as a man nor as a former leader [of the company]. I hope they will be able to have their cases reviewed by the courts.”

Porcel said the women formed a support group. “We wanted to show that we are united, that we are solid, that we are doing 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 pursuing further legal action against Poivre d’Arvor.

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

Once in the room, she said the TV star “pushed me onto the bed, he undressed, he undressed me and entered me. At that time I was paralyzed. It took me a long time to realize it was a surprise rape.”

Journalist Justine Ducharne said she didn’t want to go into details about what happened to her but described it as “a horror”.

Last year, Poivre d’Arvor accused women of hiding behind anonymity. “No one dared come forward to tell me what I did was unacceptable.” He declined Mediapart’s invitation to take part in the two-hour program.

In his 43-page defamation lawsuit against 16 of his accusers, Poivre d’Arvor lamented “a return to puritanism and censorship cleverly disguised as a supposed protection of women.” He said: “Since the excitement of the #MeToo wave, female voice liberation has unfortunately had its share of excesses and abuses.”

He also claimed the women sought fame and revenge. “No credit can be given to these 16 women, journalists or writers in search of fame who suddenly became feminists to support a former colleague, friend or even a simple activist for women’s causes,” he said . “It’s about revenge on the part of women who have not received more attention or even a look from a man they once admired.

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

Turchi said Poivre d’Arvor and his lawyers had been approached to take part in the scheme. “We would have liked him to speak up and we asked him to, but he refused,” she said.

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

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