• France's news in English
 

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

Published: 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
Fêtes de Bayonnes
The Bayonne festival: France's wildest party
Festival goers in Bayonne - a sea of red and white. Photo: AFP

The Bayonne festival: France's wildest party

One of France's most famous festivals kicks off on Wednesday and promises to be as wild and raucous as ever. We take a closer look at the Fêtes de Bayonne to find out why everyone needs to go at least once. READ  

Calais migrants' crisis
Blame game erupts over Calais migrants' crisis
Police and migrants in a standoff near the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. Photo: AFP

Blame game erupts over Calais migrants' crisis

Eurotunnel said on Wednesday that since January it had stopped 37,000 attempts by migrants to get to the UK through the Channel Tunnel as the company and the French government accused each other of not doing enough to stem the crisis in Calais. READ  

France and Iran
Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris
French president François Hollande seen here shaking hands with Hassan Rohani. Photo: AFP

Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris

French president François Hollande has invited his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to visit Paris in November in what would be an historic trip if the invitation is accepted. READ  

Birkin: 'Take my name off Hermes crocodile bag'
Jane Birkin and one of the Birkin Croco handbags. Photo: AFP

Birkin: 'Take my name off Hermes crocodile bag'

British singer Jane Birkin has asked the French luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag after learning of the "cruel" methods used to make the iconic accessory. READ  

Disneyland Paris 'overcharged UK visitors'
Taking the Mickey? Does Disneyland overcharge foreign customers? Photo: AFP

Disneyland Paris 'overcharged UK visitors'

Europe's most popular theme park Disneyland Paris stood accused on Wednesday of charging British and German customers more than French visitors for identical packages. The EU is investigating. READ  

Calais migrants' crisis
Hundreds of migrants try to storm Channel Tunnel
Migrants walk along railway tracks at the Eurotunnel terminal on July 28, 2015 in Calais-Frethun. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of migrants try to storm Channel Tunnel

Hundreds of migrants tried to storm the Channel Tunnel for the second successive night on Tuesday as the crisis reached a new peak. UK Prime Minister said the situation at Calais was "concerning". READ  

Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
French police officers stand guard as a car arrives at the villa of the Saudi king in Vallauris. Photo: AFP

Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach

The storm around the Riviera beach "privatized" for the Saudi royals took a new twist on Tuesday when it emerged the Middle Eastern visitors had asked French police not to send any female officers to guard the beach. READ  

Guest blog - Strikes
French leaders should be more like French parents
Farmers stand next to carrots dumped during a November protest in southern France. Photo: AFP

French leaders should be more like French parents

The French government needs to take a leaf out of the book of the nation's fabled disciplinarian parents when it comes to dealing with rebellious strikers, argues Martin Dixon director of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
France's Platini looks set to run for Fifa presidency
Will Michel Platini replace Sepp Blatter as the head of Fifa? It looks like he will at least throw his hat into the ring. Photo: AFP

France's Platini looks set to run for Fifa presidency

Uefa chief Michel Platini is set to announce in the coming days that he will stand in next year's election to replace Sepp Blatter as president of Fifa. READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in August
Dance a jig with the Celts in Brittany. Photo: AFP

What's on in France: Ten things to do in August

August in France - especially Paris - is deathly quiet as the locals shut up shop and head off on holidays. But there are still plenty of intriguing events across the country to keep you busy. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
What's on in France: Ten things to do in August
Features
What to see and do at the Paris Plages this summer
Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
Take a closer look at the 560,000-year-old tooth found in France
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
National
'B**ch' and 'brainless': French shop slurs clients
Travel
French cops rebel over order to give kids sweets
National
New measures to stop migrant deaths in Calais
Travel
Here are some of the most ridiculous comments you'll read about France
Features
Life may be about to get easier for expats settling in France
National
Burning tyres and blocking roads is just the way the French do strikes
National
Muslim tourists visiting French Alps are reminded of burqa ban
Opinion
Slim and chic: Are French women fed up of the stereotypes?
French officials defend handing public beach over to Saudi royals
Society
French kiss: Should expats in France do 'la bise' among themselves?
National
Paris commuters and tourists face summer of travel trouble
This man learnt the entire French vocabulary in nine weeks, but why?
French speed cameras snare tens of thousands of British drivers
Gallery
What kind of expat in France are you: A lover or a loather?
Society
French tweeters reveal the trials and tribulations of #GrowingupFrench
Where to find the best (and worst) quality of life in France
National
Riviera rumpus as Saudi royals grab public beach all for themselves
What we know about France's foiled terror plot
Features
Here are ten places in Paris where you can escape the summer heat
National
Coup d'état fails in France after being snubbed by military
Are shoppers in northern France the most honest in the world?
French woman fined €90 for driving in flip-flops
Cyclists in Paris get the green light to jump red
'Adieu France': Angry mum's parting rant goes viral
Franco-German rift opens over Greece and it could take time to heal
The Megavalanche: The most spectacular cycling event in France
Ex-French PM's daughter creates a buzz by going topless for photo shoot
Could Parisians be bathing in the Seine by 2024?
Paris unveils new mobile app to help non-French speakers
France declares war on public transport sex pests
So where's the best place to live in France if you want to be happy?
Opinion
Paris: The City of Light, Romance, Style and the worst loos in Europe?
National
Eight ways living in France will change your lifestyle for good
International
Why French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Ten ideas that could improve the quality of life in Paris
National
Rules for taking selfies at the Eiffel Tower: No.1 Keep your clothes on
National
Paris's trendy Canal Saint-Martin is now more tip than hip
National
Westeros is coming: Paris to welcome Game of Thrones exhibition
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

3,582
jobs available