Headteacher who raped pupils kills himself before trial

The ex-school director imprisoned last year for the rapes of dozens of students was found dead in his cell on Tuesday morning, having hanged himself ahead of his trial.

Headteacher who raped pupils kills himself before trial
Le Mas de la Raz school in Villefontaine, where Farina last worked. Photo: AFP

Romain Farina, 46, previously the head of the Mas de la Raz school in Villefontaine, in southeastern France, had been charged with various sexual offences and placed in detention in March 2015.

On Tuesday he was found dead in his cell in Corbas prison, near Lyon, on Tuesday morning after apparently having hanged himself. 

According to L'Express newspaper he was being closely watched because of the risk he could commit suicide.

“You could pass every five minutes to check but there is never zero risk,” said prison warden union leader Pascal Rossignol. 

Farina had confessed to having tricked pupils during a workshop on experiencing new tastes when he would blindfold them and put his penis in their mouths.Video clips found at his home confirmed what had happened.

Parents of some of the pupils have spoken out in anger about Farina’s suicide. 
“There’s a lot of anger and frustration,” Marie Grimaud, lawyer of the father of one of the victims, told Le Parisien newspaper. “We regret that he wasn’t better surveilled in detention seeing as he had already attempted suicide at the end of August.”
Sébastien Lopez, father of one of the pupils presumed to be one of Farina’s victims, said, “It’s more than anger, I feel rage. 
Since August, it was our fear that he would try again. But they assured us that he was being consistently watched. It’s yet another dysfunction in this situation that has only been an accumulation of dysfunctions.”


What had angered parents the most was that Farina obtained his job at the school despite a 2008 conviction for possessing child pornography.

At the time the thunderbolt rocked France and prompted the education ministry to launch an internal investigation parallel to the legal inquiry to discover how the convicted offender was hired and ended up becoming a primary headteacher who went on to rape several pupils.

Prosecutors said the school principal had forced at least two pupils to perform oral sex acts on him during the workshop. The activity involved children wearing blindfolds and describing items they were given to taste.

Authorities were alerted after two six-year-old's complained to their parents about what they had experienced.

Justice officials say Farina tricked at least two pupils into oral sex behind a screen at a far end of the classroom.

Under French law, the assaults are qualified as rape.

In total, investigators spoke to 61 potential victims from several different schools where Farina had worked.

The school principal initially denied the alleged rapes, which are suspected to have taken place between December and March 2015 in Villefontaine.

But searches of the his home following his arrest uncovered child pornography and video clips supporting claims he blindfolded pupils and put his penis in their mouths.

It also emerged that in 2008 he was convicted for possessing similar material, sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and ordered to receive specialized treatment.

However, he was not banned from working with children – a fact that may have made it difficult for education authorities to find out about his past before hiring him.

The school's supervisor, Dominique Fis, said at the time of his arrest that local officials had received no information that Farina was listed in France's national database of child sex offenders.

“There was nothing in his file concerning that conviction, and we only learned about it yesterday,” Fis said.

Fis noted that while several employees in her administration have access to the sex offender database, consultation of the listing is only automatic “for entry level hires and interns.”   

“After that there is no systematic procedure,” she said.

Fis said Farina had initially been hired by a school in Grenoble in September 2008, and joined Villefontaine's Mas de la Raz school in late 2014.

“He stopped working between 2008 and 2011, having taken a leave of absence after losing a child.”

After Farina’s arrest in March 2015,1,200 people participated in a march in Villefontaine in support of the victims. 

Member comments

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


‘Section internationales’: How do France’s bilingual secondary schools work?

For foreign parents in France looking at secondary school options for their children one option to consider is the bilingual 'international sections' in certain state schools. But how do they work?

'Section internationales': How do France's bilingual secondary schools work?

What is an ‘international section’

Essentially international sections in French secondary schools allow students to learn a modern foreign language, such as English or German in much more depth than a standard state secondary. These sections also facilitate the integration of foreign students into the French school system.

There are about 200 ‘International’ establishments (primary schools, colleges and high schools) around France offering international sections in 16 languages.

Most are state run, so for many foreign families they are a much cheaper alternative to private schools, though it should be noted that some of the international sections are fee-paying.


Even state establishments can charge for enrolment into their international sections. Fees are usually in the region of €1,000 to €2,000 per year (although that’s still cheap compared to somewhere like the American school of Paris which charges between €20,000 and €35,000 a year)

American and British sections are particularly popular – and, as a result are usually the most expensive, while less-popular German sections are less costly. 

Why do they exist?

These sections are ideal for the children of immigrant families, as well as those where one parent is of foreign origin. Syllabuses are set up and developed by French educational authorities and those of the partner country.

In addition to lessons dedicated to modern languages, students benefit from lessons in another subject given in a foreign language. The international sections promote the discovery of the culture and civilisation of the countries associated with the section.

Top tips for raising a bilingual child in France

What languages are available?

According to the government website, 19 languages are available. But that’s not strictly accurate as it then lists American, British and Australian as separate ‘languages’, along with Portuguese and Brazilian. It’s more accurate to say these establishments offer education in 16 languages.

It’s more accurate to say that there are 19 “sections”, dedicated to learning with a linguistic and cultural education slant in favour of the following nations/languages:

American, Arabic, Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Franco-Moroccan, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Russian.

In total, there are two Australian schools, 20 American ones, over 50 British schools – most in Paris and the Ile-de-France (Versailles is very popular)

So, what’s studied – and what qualifications do you get?

As well as usual collège-level classes in core subjects, such as maths, history and the sciences, students have four hours of classes in the language, including literary studies, of their choice.

From troisième (age 14), an additional two hours of classes per week cover that country’s history and geography and moral and civic education – the latter is replaced by maths for those studying in Chinese sections.

They can obtain the diplôme national du brevet with the mention “série collège, option internationale”. The dedicated brevet includes two specific tests: history-geography and foreign language.

At lycée, students study four hours of foreign literature per week, as well as two hours of history-geography in the language of the section (maths for the Chinese section) as well as two hours of French as they study towards an OIB (option internationale du bac), often at the same time as a standard French bac.

How to enrol

The first step is to contact the collège you wish your child to attend. This should take place no later than January before the September rentree you want your child to go to the collège.

If you live in France, and your child is attending an école primaire or élémentaire, you should do this in the January of the year they would move up to collège.

Be aware, that some schools require potential students to pass a language test – written and oral – before they can enter an international section. A child wishing to enter sixth grade must be able to read books of the level of Harry Potter in English, to enter the international school of Sèvres’ British section, while another has said that only 20 percent of candidates achieve the grade that would allow them entry into an international section.

Find a school

You will find sections internationales de collège at educational academies across the country. For a full list, with contact details, click here.