Sexual Abuse in France

Bestselling book leads to a criminal investigation, an outpouring online and possible changes to France’s laws

A 30-year-old family secret has shaken the elite of France. And it has nothing to do with the usual money scandals that rock the French establishment. This is about alleged sexual abuse of a minor and the powerful people accused of staying silent.

The allegation, which was detailed in a bestselling book and is now under investigation by Paris prosecutors, involves an influential political scientist sexually abusing his teenage stepson.

Investigators have yet to finish their work, but the case has already touched off a huge national debate on the extent of incest and sexual crimes in families, and the culture of silence that has helped to hide the problem.

The debate is so intense, French President Emmanuel Macron felt obliged to jump in on Jan. 23. He issued a video, telling victims, “We are there, we hear you, we believe you. You will never be alone.”

He promised tougher laws on sexual crimes. The French parliament is already debating them.