• France edition
 
Mum on trial over son's rape in jail visiting room
The woman allegedly sexually assaulted her son repeatedly - sending video of the attacks to her jailed partner, before aiding in the toddler's rape during a "conjugal" visit. Photo: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP

Mum on trial over son's rape in jail visiting room

Published: 23 Sep 2013 12:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Sep 2013 12:19 GMT+02:00

In a case which could lead to the prison itself also facing legal action, Sabrina Bonner, 25, and the step-father, her partner Lionel Barthelemy, 31, are charged with multiple sexual assaults on the boy, who is now eight and in the care of social services.

Barthelemy admits raping the child in the visiting room at the Toul detention centre in eastern France in February 2010, but claims it was an isolated act initiated by Bonner.

She claims the prison incident and other rapes which she filmed were carried out under orders and the threat of violence from her partner, who allegedly listened to one assault from his prison cell on his mobile phone.

The trial, which is due to run for three days, will shed light on why prison staff failed to stop, or even notice, an act of such brutality taking place during what was supposed to be a supervised visit to a prisoner serving a sentence for domestic violence who had been diagnosed as having schizophrenic tendencies.

Prosecutors have indicated they will present evidence that black bin bags were used to cover the glass window of the door to the room in which the visit took place and that, as in other French prisons, this was standard practice to allow prisoners privacy with their partners during visits.

Yannick Pheulpin, the advocate representing the little boy, said he intended, at the end of the trial, to initiate legal proceedings aimed at holding the prison to account for the suffering of the child.

The prosecution alleges that Bonner blindfolded her son and made him kneel on a chair in front of Barthelemy, then held him by the arms as he was raped.

"Mrs Bonner made herself an accomplice to the crime by bringing her son to the visiting room twice on the same day: once in the morning when a first rape took place and a second time in the afternoon, knowing perfectly well that it was going to happen again," Pheulpin said.

Bonner has admitted carrying out multiple sexual assaults on her child during 2009 and 2010, filming them on her mobile phone and giving the phone's memory card to her imprisoned partner.

She gave herself up to police in May 2011, shortly before Barthelemy was due to be released from prison.

"She will not try to minimise her responsibility," her lawyer, Dominique Bergmann, said.

Bonner and Barthelemy face maximum prison terms of 20 years if convicted as charged.

This isn't the only scandal to have hit French prisons in recent years.

Back in February 2012, the director of a women's prison west of Paris was himself sent to jail for having an affair with one of the inmates, including having sex with her repeatedly in an IT room.

During the spring, it took authorities six weeks to track down and capture Redoine Faid, a notorious French gangster who made a daring escape from jail, taking four prison guards hostage along the way.

In June, a judge took the rare step of ordering the release of a prisoner near Paris, due to the shocking condition of his cell. A hole in the ceiling left him cold and wet as wind and rain blew into the tiny living quarters.

There was widespread anger and embarrassment in August, when a legal technicality caused a French judge to pave the way for hundreds of convicted criminals to walk free from French prisons.

Don't miss stories like this - join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss bankers pay €1bn in French fraud case
Swiss banker UBS has made a huge payment in a French fraud case. Photo: AFP

Swiss bankers pay €1bn in French fraud case

A Swiss banking behemoth accused of advising wealthy French people on how to conceal their money in Switzerland has paid a court-ordered bail of €1 billion. READ  

French welfare cuts
'Having kids in France will soon be a luxury'
Will cuts threaten France's health birth rate? Photo: Philippe Demazes/AFP

'Having kids in France will soon be a luxury'

Family associations and sections of the French media have lined up to blast the government for its plans to cut key family benefits, which they say will harm one of France’s greatest economic strengths – it’s high fertility rate. READ  

Woman, 76, raped 'for telling youths to be quiet'
A 76-year-old woman was brutally raped in retaliation for telling some men to quiet down. Photo: AFP

Woman, 76, raped 'for telling youths to be quiet'

After a 76-year-old woman told a group of young men to quiet down outside her apartment building near Paris, they retaliated by brutally raping her and then looting her home, according to reports in France. READ  

French workers threaten to blow up factory
Workers at a vacuum factory in France have threatened to blow it up. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

French workers threaten to blow up factory

With boss-napping apparently a passé option, French workers angry over planned layoffs at a vacuum factory have threatened to blow up the plant where they work. READ  

Paris to unveil new app to help find a taxi
Paris has created a new app that is meant to make finding a cab a bit easier. Photo: AFP

Paris to unveil new app to help find a taxi

Paris will roll out its brand new smartphone app on Wednesday which is supposed to make the sometimes impossible task of hailing a taxi in the French capital a little easier. But will it be of any use? READ  

French pharmacies shut up shop in protest
It'll likely be harder than usual to find an open pharmacy in France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

French pharmacies shut up shop in protest

All but a handful of pharmacies in France will be closed on Tuesday as part of a nationwide strike against government plans to weaken the monopolies held by self-employed professionals like lawyers, doctors and notaries. READ  

Champions League
PSG will play to win against Barcelona: Blanc
PSG coach Laurent Blanc says his side will stick to their footballing principles against Barcelona. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

PSG will play to win against Barcelona: Blanc

PSG coach Laurent Blanc said his team will play to win against Spanish giants Barcelona when they meet in the Champions League Group F clash in Paris on Tuesday. Blanc's side however will have to do without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic. READ  

Guest blog - French tax breaks
'Starting a company in France is not that taxing'
Setting up a company in France might not mean the tax burden that you had imagined. Photo: Shutterstock

'Starting a company in France is not that taxing'

The words "France" and "taxes" are as synonymous as "pain" and "chocolat" but when it comes to setting up a company in the country, guest blogger Katya Puyraud, from Euro Start Entreprises says things are not as bad as they seem at first. And the paperwork is a positive! READ  

French public debt rises above €2,000,000,000,000
France's public debt has now passed the two trillion mark, officially. Photo: AFP

French public debt rises above €2,000,000,000,000

The depressing figures for the French economy just keep on coming. On Tuesday it was revealed that the country's public debt had passed the symbolic two trillion mark. In real numbers that's €2,000,000,000,000. READ  

IN IMAGES - Floods
South of France hit by devastating floods
The southern French city of Montpellier has been left under water by the floods. Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP

South of France hit by devastating floods

Parts of southern France were once again hit by devastating floods on Monday that left the city of Montpellier under water and a state of natural disaster declared in around 60 towns and villages. Here are some videos and images. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se