Writing for The Atlantic, Marie Doezema zeroes in on a case in France involving an 11-year-old girl. one that 50 years later has sparked a moment of moral and legal reckoning. The event happened in April, 2017, when a 28-year-old-man met an 11-year-old girl in a park in Montmagny, a small town of 14,000 people in northern France.
After congenial conversation with her that involved no coercion, the man said he would be happy to show the young girl how to kiss. She did go home with the man, and it's not clear from reading the reports when the girl showed the man her schoolbooks to establish her age. The victim says she did; the accused insists that she did not.
“She thought … that she didn’t have the right to protest, that it wouldn’t make any difference,” the mother told Mediapart, a French investigative site which first reported on the allegations of the case. The accusations were of an adult raping a child—a crime that, in France, can lead to a 20-year prison sentence for the perpetrator when the victim is 15 or younger.
Facts are that the case was not proceeding towards a rape charge. Initially, the man was charged with “sexual infraction,” a crime punishable with a maximum of five years in jail and a €75,000 fine. Under French law, a charge of rape requires “violence, coercion, threat, or surprise,” even if the victims are age 11 or 12, as the girl in the Montmagny case.
“She was 11 years and 10 months old, so nearly 12 years old,” defense lawyer Marc Goudarzian said. Sandrine Parise-Heideiger, his fellow defense lawyer, added: “We are not dealing with a sexual predator on a poor little faultless goose.”