- At least three children at a primary school in the Hauts-de-Seine region were sexually assaulted and even raped by another child last year, according to the children's consistent accounts.
- For months, the parents of the child victims have been asking that their children no longer be exposed to their young abuser, and that he be moved to a different school, to no avail.
- On the contrary, the parents of the victim children were offered to change their schools, a proposal that revolts one of the mothers: "When there is an assault at work, it is the aggressor who is moved to another location, not the victim."
It would seem unimaginable today that an adult victim of sexual violence would be forced to live with her rapist for months at work, and intolerable that she should be offered to leave in place of the person who assaulted her. However, this is what the Ministry of Education asked three families whose children had been sexually assaulted and one of them had been raped by another child in a primary school in the Hauts-de-Seine region. Parents who have asked, like others elsewhere (see our article), for the minor abuser to change schools, without being heard for months.
It all started in July 2022, when the mother of one of the children, Arnaud, questioned her son following a report from a mother who spoke of a "turbulent" child. According to Arnaud, 6, Lény, 7, asks some students to show their zizi, and threatens to "throw them from the yard" if they refuse. He mentions two other children, Laura and Axel, who confirm the facts, which they will later complete by revealing even more serious things.
Laura has been reluctant to go to school for several months and has difficulties at school, according to her mother. In tears, the little girl says that Lény touched her genitals, facts that qualify as sexual assault. Later, she also tells him that Leny forced her to kiss him on the genitals and that he did the same with her. Lény also allegedly forcibly pulled down Axel's pants while taking him to the bathroom.
Victims grouped into a class
Parents are quick to react. In August, Laura's mother filed a complaint and asked the principal that her daughter not be in the same class as her attacker. During the summer, families also wrote to the director and the inspector of the National Education of their sector, who replied that the school was closed but that a review could be made with the director at the beginning of the school year. In the end, only one of the three families managed to get an appointment with the director, the other two were refused.
However, the headmistress has been busy since the start of the school year, organizing a meeting with her team, and measures "to limit the crossing of students and monitor the passage to the toilets", as confirmed by the Versailles rectorate. An intervention in the classes of the school nurse and the prevention officer is planned "on respect for the body, its integrity and the ability to say no". However, the parents discover that their children, who have been grouped together in a different class from the aggressor, see him in class two afternoons a week, and they understand that they will see him for years to come in the playground, in the canteen and on Wednesdays.
Facts of rape are revealed
Because the three little victims are unhappy to see Lény, who frightens them. In September, Arnaud said he was sick so he could not go to school, according to his mother. Laura sometimes starts crying for no reason, refusing to go to class, so much so that her mother decides to stop working at the end of October to take care of her on the days when she is not well.
Above all, the children continue to talk, and even more serious facts are revealed by Axel, about Arnaud, and for himself, in the meantime. Facts qualifiable as rape, since Lény would have "put Arnaud's penis in his mouth", and he would also have taken Axel's dick in his hands, a gesture that "hurt" the little boy. Arnaud and Axel's parents filed a complaint. Arnaud's mother says her son "looks sadder" and "cries more often."
The facts were reported by e-mail to the director and the National Education Inspector, who met the two families separately in mid-November. The parents ask that the child aggressor be transferred to another school, but they are told that they have to wait for the prosecutor's decision, that it is not possible to do this for a primary school child. According to the parents' testimonies, the two families were offered the option of changing their child's school. A proposal that revolts parents. "When there is an assault at work, it is the aggressor who is moved to another location, not the victim," says Coralie, Arnaud's mother.
A guide to national education shunned by the national education system
In December, the cases were dismissed due to the young age of the victim. At school, nothing changes, because the judge obviously did not ask for a change of school for Lény. From that moment on, the parents did not cease to make this request, for four months that seemed interminable to them.
However, there is a guide on sexual violence published by the Ministry of National Education, which seems clear. "It is necessary for the student abuser to be transferred to another school or educational institution, and the student victim must be able to remain in his or her class," the guide states. "I don't see what would stand in the way of him changing schools. I share the family's distress. But that doesn't surprise me, because there is a concern not to ostracize certain particular cases," says Claude Savinaud, a clinical psychologist who wrote Violence sexuelle d'adolescents.
In fact, Lény is experiencing difficulties at school, so much so that his situation is finally recognized by the departmental house for the disabled (MDPH). The revelation of these facts does not help the situation, and as time goes on, he appears more and more isolated in the courtyard. But does the fact that Lény is also suffering, that he is not responsible for his actions and that he may be a victim himself (see our article) justify not protecting the other children and imposing on them the sight of a child who terrorizes them?
"Laura won't go to school anymore"
Laura, for example, is experiencing new crying attacks, including one that was recorded, dating from mid-March, and that 20 Minutes has been able to hear, where she says she is "always afraid" that Lény will do the same thing to other children, and that she does not feel safe. The school doctor advised her mother to change schools.
The situation escalated in March and April when the children were verbally and physically assaulted by Lény. In mid-April, Arnaud came home very disturbed in the evening, throwing objects, screaming in the apartment, scratching his face and crying a lot, according to his mother. "There's Lény walking around and crushing all the coats, crushing heads and starting to push Anaïs and push Axel. As a result, I wanted to fight because there was no host close enough to say it, and he started punching me in my glasses," explains Arnaud, in a conversation recorded by his mother, which we were able to consult. "This is no longer tenable for us," wrote Amélie, Laura's mother, in an email to the inspector and the assistant rector, explaining that her daughter was "anxious". "As long as the permanent solution is not provided, Laura will no longer go to school," she wrote the next day, in the face of the lack of response. A few days before, an article appeared in a media outlet that revealed the facts and pointed out that the child molester was still in school. On 22 April, the deputy rector announced that Lény's parents "had accepted this decision to change schools". But it took more than ten months to get to this point, and maybe a news article.
"The situation you describe has been taken care of according to the appropriate timeframe and all the families have received support from the State and municipal services, committed to ensuring that the well-being of the children prevails," replies the Versailles rectorate, which has also been singled out in recent months for threatening letters addressed to families of harassed children.
On the contrary, the parents we interviewed denounced a form of "omerta", and a lack of communication between the different parties, especially between the extracurricular activities and the school itself. And they regret the exhausting process, which took up their time at a time when they needed to take care of their children the most. "All the time I spent emailing was time I didn't have with Arnaud. He felt like I wasn't taking care of him. Would it have been better if I hadn't done all that? Coralie even wonders. "All those follow-up emails... I wouldn't have done it alone," says Amélie.
- Sexual violence
- Child Protection
- National Education