• 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

A French mother went on trial on Monday, charged with holding down her four-year-old son while his stepfather raped him repeatedly in a prison visiting room. The couple are accused of having covered the room's windows with bin bags to obstruct the view of guards.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French reporters held captive in Syria set free
Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres and Nicolas Henin. AFP Photo / Chris Huby/ Haytham Pictures/ Torres Family / Benoit Schaeffer

French reporters held captive in Syria set free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. READ () »

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown
Europe-wide search for missing French girl ends in her hometown. Photo: AFP

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown

A Europe-wide hunt for a missing 15-year-old French girl ended in her hometown on Friday where she was located with a 48-year-old family friend who was suspected of abducting her. Police believed the friend was suicidal. READ () »

French MP proposes puppy custody law
A French lawmaker wants puppies looked after in case of a divorce. Photo: Robbee/Flickr

French MP proposes puppy custody law

Who gets custody of a dog after a divorce? A French lawmaker has proposed a bill to create a legal framework to answer precisely that and other tricky questions surrounding pets. READ () »

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents
Multiple incident snarl Eurostar traffic during Easter rush. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents

Hundreds of travelers on Eurostar trains between Paris and London saw hours of delays and cancellations on Thursday night due to back-to-back technical and fatal incidents. Service was supposed to be back to normal on Friday. READ () »

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist
Police have finished an unprecedented DNA collection in the hunt for a rapist. Photo: Xavier Leoty/AFP

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist

All 527 male students and staff at a private school in France have turned over their DNA as part of an unprecedented hunt for whoever raped a girl in a campus bathroom. One student who'd refused relented under prosecutors' pressure. READ () »

‘France needs to change its response to crime’
France prison's have hit a new record for overcrowding. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

‘France needs to change its response to crime’

This month France had more prisoners behind bars than ever before in its history, according to statistics unveiled on Thursday. An expert on the country's penal system told The Local that Sarkozy-era sentencing laws are largely to blame. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
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 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