• France's news in English

Founder of school boat on trial for 'raping pupils'

AFP · 5 Mar 2013, 15:42

Published: 05 Mar 2013 15:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a case that has taken over 18 years to come to trial, former child psychotherapist Leonide Kameneff, 76, and three of his crew/staff are accused of rape and sexual abuse by nine former pupils.

Established in 1969, the boat school hosted more than 400 French pupils over three decades on trips around the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic.

Typically aged 11 or 12, the children spent periods of a few months to up to two years on journeys that were supposed to provide them with an alternative education while allowing the individuals to blossom and develop self-reliance.

In reality, according to the nine plaintiffs, some of them were subjected to repeated abuse at the hands of the staff in an environment from which there was no escape and in which Kameneff played the role of controlling guru.

"We were the victims of a man who wanted to act out a dream and used us like his playthings," one plaintiff, Marie Rigod, told AFP.

Kameneff denies the charges and claims it is an era and a philosophy that is being put on trial, 18 years after the first allegations were registered with the authorities.

"Society has changed enormously," Kameneff said. "Things that appeared normal at the time, as educational, are today regarded with suspicion."

Kameneff faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted in a trial that is taking place in a juvenile court because one of the accused was 17 at the time he is alleged to have abused other minors on the boat.

Story continues below…

The man, now 39, is also one of the plaintiffs having alleged that he was himself raped on board the boat.

In total more than 30 complaints were registered about the conduct of staff on the boat, but a number of them could not be pursued because they were filed too long after the alleged abuse took place.

The trial is also expected to hear evidence from former pupils who have only happy memories of their time on board the boat school.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available