France reconsiders sex crime reporting limits

The case of a French woman who reported being raped as a child 32 years later has triggered a national debate on the time limit for reporting sex crimes. France’s highest appeals court is set to decide on Wednesday whether to lift the statute of limitations.

France reconsiders sex crime reporting limits
France’s highest appeals court is set to decide on Wednesday whether to lift the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Photo: Indi Samarajiva

France’s "cour de cassation", the country’s highest court of appeal, is set to decide on Wednesday whether to lift the statute of limitations on sex crimes, in a landmark case involving the alleged rape of a child 32 years ago.

The woman in question, identified as Cecile T. by the French press, claims she was raped by a cousin through marriage in July 1977 when she was just five years old.

As a result of the incident, Cecile T., claims she suffered “traumatic amnesia” which prevented her from reporting it until 32 years later, following extensive therapy.

However, by the time she reported the rape in September 2011, the case had expired, in accordance with the French statute of limitations, which, in this case was 20 years.

“These limitations must be revised when it concerns crimes or assaults on children, because the legislator does not take the psyche into consideration,” Cecile T., now a 41-year-old communications executive, told Le Parisien.

“The child represses the horrors they experienced in the unconscious, like I did. They develop phobias which are the result of post-traumatic [stress]. And when victims become aware of the horror, it’s often too late to report [it].”

“The devastation resulting from rape lasts a whole lifetime.”

The woman’s case, which is the first of its kind to be examined in France, has triggered a national debate over legal time limitations for sex crimes, particularly in cases of incest, with some campaigners calling for extensions and others even calling for the time limit to be abolished altogether.

Quoted in Le Parisien, Isabelle Aubry, President of the International Association of Incest Victims, said “by not reporting [crimes] because of [time] limitations, it's like giving predators a free pass."

Cecile T.’s lawyer Gilles-Jean Portejoie said: “The statue of limitation in the Penal Code is from another age and does not take into account the latest developments in psychiatry and science.”

Portejoie added that the statute of limitations should date from the “psychological revelation of the facts rather than [the date] when they occurred”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.