PPDA Case: Why the Defamation Charge Reinforced Its Prosecutors’ Words

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Paris-Match front page on PPDA, accused of rape and sexual assault, is unfair to the “dozens of women [qui] pass for” for Cécile Delarue.

JUSTICE – The penalty for defamatory termination is five years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, says Article 226-10 of the Criminal Code. What the lawyers’ bible does not say, however, is that defamation complaints can also generate powerful impulses. That is more or less the case in what should now be called the PPDA affair.

While Patrick Poivre d’Arvor continues to deny the assault and rape allegations against him since the first complaint filed by Florence Porcel in February 2021, this Tuesday, May 10, 20 women testified live on the set of Mediapart to journalists Valentine Oberti and Mathieu Magnaudeix.

> Update on PPDA Complaints and Investigations

The image of these 20 women, two of whom spoke with their backs to the camera for fear of reprisal, marks a new phase after more than a year of revelations through powerful portraits in Editionor announcing new complaints against the journalist. But in recent weeks, the situation has changed with the PPDA’s defamation complaint against 16 of the women who have accused him.

The journalist was also asked to speak by the newspaper, but declined and continues to deny. For the time being, an initial investigation into a large part of the complaints has been dropped due to statute of limitations or lack of evidence. However, another judicial inquiry is ongoing following a new complaint filed by Florence Porcel.

The complaint for defamation, an electric shock

For its part, contrary to its first defamatory charge, which was dismissed, the PPDA has this time filed a civil suit against those who, in its opinion, harbor a “bitterness that leads them, in belated revenge, to commit the crime of defamatory termination”.

Enough to cause an electric shock to his accusers, like Valentine Oberti to the… HuffPost: “We’ve been talking to them for a show for a while. And this complaint evoked a desire in them to speak out.”

And that is exactly what journalist Hélène Devynck pointed out on the set, also on the set of media partwho spoke about “the violence of PPDA, which means we have to do it” [ndlr: de parler]”, that Margot Cauquil-Gleizes, teacher, who testified, she first.

“This is the first time I have testified publicly in response to the filing of a complaint by Mr Poivre d’Arvor for defamatory conviction. Being here today, with my face uncovered, is a way of telling him that I am not afraid and that I stand by my testimony that he raped me when I was a minor, I was 17 years old, and that he sexually assaulted me me in his office at the age of 24,” she explained at the start of the program.

A desire to speak out and respond, as had already been provoked in November 2021 by the PPDA interview on the Daily set. At the time, only Florence Porcel had spoken openly, but the rumor of other stories to come was already gaining momentum.

The journalist’s denial against Yann Barthès subsequently created the MeTooMédias association, which fights against violence in the media. That evening on TMC, “the method of defense chosen by the journalist shocked many women, including many victims of his actions”, reports the association’s website, which states that after this interview, 22 women went to talk in court.

Go to court

But the magnitude of the PPDA affair cannot be measured by the media echo alone. By filing a complaint for defamation, he brings these women together on the set of Mediapart, but also in court soon. A legal appointment that will not be without risk.

“Thank you Patrick for offering us the test on a plate that we were not allowed to have because of a recipe. He shoots himself in the foot,” said greetings in the Parisian, journalist Emmanuelle Dancourt, who filed a complaint in 2021 against the journalist for a sexual assault she allegedly suffered in 2008. very determined. Finally we will be able to talk face to face with him, if he dares to come,” she added.

Something that ties in with the analysis of this psychiatrist specializing in gender-based and sexual violence, interviewed by Madmoizelle. In particular, she recalled that the support groups for victims of sexual violence “are a real cocoon of power, built by and for the victims, a new weapon of self-defense feared by the perpetrators of violence, who above all want to isolate their victims”.

The previous Baupin

If the defamation complaint in sexual assault cases is also reprimanded as a method of “silence” by the victims, passage through the court can sometimes overturn the charge. This was illustrated by the Denis Baupin affair. In 2016, eight women, including Sandrine Rousseau, accused the elected EELV of sexual harassment, even assault. Other testimonials are pouring in, an investigation is opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, but finally closed without further action for statute of limitations. The prosecutor nevertheless acknowledges that certain “facts that have been denounced (…) may qualify as criminal for some of them”.

Denis Baupin then decides to file a complaint for defamation. A trial at the end of which he ultimately gets compensation for “abuse of civil action”. During the weeks of hearings, and as prosecutors recounted the sexual assault in the stands, the charges were overturned. The trial for defamation has become that of freedom of speech.

More recently, Pierre Joxe saw his appeal in cassation dismissed when he contested a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal. The latter had chosen to overturn the defamation sentence against Anne Fornia, who accused the former minister of sexual assault. Ditto for the appeal in cassation by Patrick Brion who accused Sandra Muller of sexual harassment when launching the hashtag “balance your pork”.

For PPDA, in addition to this defamation lawsuit against its accusers, there is those against: the Parisian which, according to Mediapart, will take place in 2023, another ongoing investigation against Edition† Above all, unlike the Baupin case, all the facts the journalist is accused of are not time-barred and several proceedings are still pending.

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