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France: Pedophilia suspects testify

Publish Date: 12 Mar 2005

Source: AP Online
By Stephanie Lacaze, Associated Press Writer

French Pedophilia Lead Suspects Testify 

ANGERS, France (AP) -- Defendants painted a grim picture of family torment Friday during a pedophilia trial where one woman said she had been raped by her adoptive father and attempted to explain why she never reported the abuse of her own children.

It was the second day of questioning of some of the 66 people accused of involvement in the rape, sexual abuse and prostitution of children -- some too young to walk -- in this city some 165 miles southwest of Paris.

Investigators say 45 children -- between the ages of 6 months and 14 years -- were abused by their parents or their acquaintances from 1999 to 2002, in some cases in exchange for small amounts of money, food, cigarettes or alcohol. 

The defendants, expressing themselves with difficulty, offered little insight into their actions or into the dynamics of a group ensnared in a pattern of child abuse and pedophilia passed on from one generation to the next.

A defendant identified as Patricia M. said she had been an abandoned child and as a little girl had been raped by her adoptive father. Now she stands accused of raping, sexually abusing, corrupting and prostituting children.

She could face 20 years' imprisonment. Under French law, she, like other defendants, can only be identified by a first name and initial to preserve the anonymity of the alleged child victims.

Patricia's adoptive father, 60-year-old Jean-Claude M., contested her testimony about him, insisting Friday that he treated her as a natural daughter. Jean-Claude M. was convicted in 2001 of sexual abuse of his granddaughter, Marine.

The former husband of Patricia M., her father-in-law and her adoptive father are among the defendants, all testifying Thursday and Friday.

Patricia M. was convicted in 2003 of failure to report the abuse of her own children, but on Friday attempted to justify her reticence.

"It's because M.V. frightened me that I said nothing," Patricia M. said of her former husband, also on trial. 

The ex-husband testified on Thursday, describing a loveless family relationship. His father, Philippe V., convicted in 1991 of raping his son, coldly stated Thursday that he "didn't give a damn" about his own children. His daughter told the court he had raped her when she was young.

The trial opened March 3 and is expected to last four months. Three defendants face life imprisonment if convicted of raping minors under age 15 and of active participation in a prostitution ring. Thirty-six face up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted on similar charges.

Five defendants could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if found guilty of incestuous sexual abuse of children, and 14 could face seven years if convicted of corrupting minors. The remaining eight are charged with failing to report the crimes and could be jailed for three years if convicted.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press