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CRIME

Woman, 30, bombards boy, 9, with love letters

A 30-year-old French school worker sent nearly two dozen love letters to a nine-year-old boy in which she told of her desire to run away with him and have his kids, reports on Tuesday said. The boy’s parents are outraged after the married woman got off with a warning.

Woman, 30, bombards boy, 9, with love letters
A Frenchwoman sent scores of love letters to a nine-year-old boy. Love letter photo: Shutterstock

It was Christmas Eve 2013 when the parents of a then nine-year-old boy in south-western France discovered he had an admirer, though it was not a dimpled primary school classmate.

Rather the parents found a trove of passionate love letters written on a child-like pink or blue stationery to their son, by a 30-year-old woman who worked at the local school and community recreation centre in the town of Bassillac.

“In his room there was a pile of letters. Twenty-three to be precise,” the boy’s mother, who didn’t provide her name, told French paper Sud Ouest. “She even went so far as to ask him to run away with her.”

The letters, which began in the summer of 2013, also evoked the real kisses she had exchanged with the boy and her desire to have four children with him. She went on to recount the troubles in her married life and even arranged a meeting with the boy outside school hours.

Though the boy went to the rendezvous with the woman, it’s unclear if there was ever any sexual contact between the two. The child's parents reported the inappropriate relationship to local police immediately, but certain questions remain unanswered because the boy refused to talk to investigators.

“Our son was interviewed,” the mother told Sud Ouest. “But he was petrified. He couldn’t say anything to the police.”

From there investigators talked to the unnamed school worker, who admitted everything, the local prosecutor Anne-Claire Gallois told the boy’s parents. However, the worker couldn’t explain why she had taken a romantic interest in the child. Psychiatrists ruled out mental health problems.

“A mental health exam was carried out on her and didn’t reveal any mental anomalies or any particular dangers,” the prosecutor wrote in an email to the family.

The prosecutor ultimately decided not to file charges against the school worker and instead issued her a warning. At the same time the woman's bosses fired her.

“That’s not enough for us,” the mother said. “She stole his childhood. In one year, we’ve seen his behavior change completely. Mathéo has become atrocious, unmanageable, very aggressive.”

The boy has been seeing a psychiatrist since the start of the year and the family met recently with the prosecutor in an effort to persuade her to reopen the case. The prosecutor reportedly said he could pursue the investigation if the boy provided new evidence of law breaking.

For the family’s lawyer the case has been permeated by a double-standard for sexual abuse.

“If it was a man who’d done this, would they have handled the case in the same way? I don’t think so,” said lawyer Nathalie Landon. “What kind of parent could tolerate these acts?”

The family now refuses to let their son ride his bike alone in their town, where the woman still lives. In fact they have had to change their routine, including avoiding a certain bakery, out of fear they will run into the woman. And now they have plans to move house.

“We don’t have the money to move, so we are going to have to take out a loan,” the mother said. “But we don’t have a choice, we have to protect our son.”

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POLITICS

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

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