Justice

Rape, sexual violence charges dropped against French academic, media figure

Olivier Duhamel, a well-connected French political scientist shown here in 2016, was accused of sexually abusing his stepson in a bombshell book this year.
Olivier Duhamel, a well-connected French political scientist shown here in 2016, was accused of sexually abusing his stepson in a bombshell book this year. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN AFP/File

Following a five-month police investigation into claims of rape and sexual violence targeting his adopted son when the victim was 15-years-old, the case against French political analyst, presidential advisor and media figure Olivier Duhamel has been dropped because the crime, which the accused has admitted, falls outside the statute of limitations.

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Duhamel admitted to police that he had sexually abused his adopted son when the child was 15 years of age.

However, because the abuse took place in the 1980s, no further action can be taken under French law which limits the time which can lapse between the alleged events and a formal complaint to 20 years after the complainant's 18th birthday.

The Paris prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, announced on Monday that the case was being abandoned because that time limit had been exceeded.

The law has since been changed, and now allows victims to file a complaint up to 30 years after their 18th birthday. The new law cannot be applied retrospectively.

Duhamel, now 71, was a high-profile teacher at the Paris Political Science Institute, as well as an influential media figure at the time of the accusations, made by the victim's twin sister in a bombshell book published last year.

The accused has since resigned all his public functions.

The case also damaged the careers and standing of several of Duhamel's associates, notably Frédéric Mion, forced to resign as director of the Paris Political Science Institute, and Elizabeth Guigou, former government minister, who was obliged to step down as chair of an independent commission investigating incest.

Earlier this year, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti wrote to French investigating judges, encouraging them to examine all allegations of sexual crimes involving minors, even when the time allowed under the statute of limitations has been exceeded.

Dupond-Moretti justified the initiative, saying it would enable the applicability of the statute of limitations to be verified, and would give both accused and accusers the opportunity to be heard before the law.

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