Sexual violence against minors and difficulties of identification : emergence during trials of the lack of training of professionals working with children

From 2 to 5 June 2020, La Voix De l’Enfant was present as a civil party in the trial of a couple. The man was on trial for sexual assault and rape of his own children and some of their friends, the woman for failure to report the facts.
This was a complex case because the young victims had been raped and assaulted for many years without anyone realizing that they were being subjected to this type of sexual abuse.
However, some signals could have alerted the adults surrounding the children. One of those signals was for example the couple’s eldest daughter’s desire to commit suicide, which, despite a hysteria attack within her school, didn’t alert the medical professionals who had taken her in. On the contrary,
the medical professionals preferred to call the father of the teenage girl, the main suspect in this case,
to come and collect his child. Similarly, other victims had seen their school results collapse or had
withdrawn into themselves without the teachers’ alerting.
After four days of hearings, the Criminal Court of Bourges found the father guilty for the sexual violence committed against the nine victims (five of whom were his own children). He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for rape and sexual assault, violence, corruption of minors, and death threats
against minors. He was also deprived of parental authority over all his children.

His former partner, the mother of four victims, was acquitted. Indeed the judges considered that there was not enough evidences to show that she had knowledge of the assaults and rapes but didn’t say anything.

Melinda DEVIDAL GAROMPOLO, lawyer representing La Voix De l’Enfant during the proceedings, ensured the protection of the minor victims who had the courage to speak out on the stand, and the respect of their word. She also recalled the role of parents in raising, educating and protecting their children, while ensuring their right to childhood.
This case demonstrates perfectly the lack of training of professionals working with children to identify proven cases of abuse, but also the lack of communication between professionals from different sectors (teaching, medical, etc.) yet working in the same establishment.
Also in such cases, the PROCHILD project takes on its full meaning.
Indeed, offering professionals working with minors interdisciplinary training courses teaching them how to identify, take care of and accompany victims of maltreatment, would enable a rapid end to the suffering suffered by the young victims and allow them to rebuild themselves quickly, long before the
aggressors are convicted.