A French woman who killed her stepfather, who raped her at age 12 and later became her husband, has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Valérie Bacot was subjected to more than 20 years of violence at the hands of Daniel Polette, with whom she had four children. The court heard that she shot and killed him after he began prostituting her to strangers, fearing that he was about to start abusing her teenage daughter.
The Saône-et-Lore court jury deliberated for nearly five hours on Friday before rejecting the defense team’s claims that Bacot was not of sound mind at the time of the murder and found her guilty.
She was sentenced to four years in prison, three of them suspended. Given the time he had already spent in jail, Bacot will not be going back to jail.
There was a short applause in the courtroom when the judge said she was free to leave the Palais de Justice.
Hours earlier, the hearing was suspended after Bacot collapsed when the attorney general said he was seeking a conviction but did not intend to send her to jail.
Bacot’s story is one of more than two decades of near-continuous abuse to which first his own mother, then other family members, and finally the police turned a blind eye. When his sons tried to report their father to the gendarmerie, they were told to leave.
The case has once again highlighted the failures of French authorities to address widespread domestic abuse against women in a country that has one of the highest rates of femicide, classified here as the murder of a woman by a current partner. or earlier, in Europe. . Bacot killed his abuser; in most cases it is the woman who dies. So far this year, at least 55 women have been murdered by a current or former partner in France.
Polette, 61, was living with Bacot’s mother, Joëlle Aubagne, when he began raping her when she was 12 years old. The state’s first failure was to choose to charge him with the misdemeanor of sexual abuse, resulting in a more lenient sentence, the court said. I’m listening.
The second was allowing Aubagne to take her daughter to see Polette in prison and, surprisingly, not preventing her from returning to the family home when she was released from prison less than three years later. Soon after, he raped Bacot again.
“It seemed to no one strange that Daniel returned to live with us as if nothing had happened,” he wrote in his book. Everybody knew (Everybody knew). “Everybody knew it, but nobody said anything.”
At 17 she became pregnant with the first of her four children and he installed her in an apartment as his wife. Two decades of abuse, beatings and threats followed almost daily.
By 2016, Polette was prostituting his wife to strangers, first in their own home, then in the back of the family minivan. In March of that year, Bacot, 40, shot Polette in the neck after one of these people raped her. Two of his sons and one of his schoolmates helped bury the body, but Bacot was arrested in 2017.
The court heard that the atmosphere in the Polette-Bacot home was “extremely toxic.” On one occasion, Polette had put the gun, with which he finally killed him, to his head and pretended to pull the trigger. “Next time it will be for real,” he told her.
During the week-long trial, members of Polette’s family and former associates approached the bar to describe him as a “monster.” Her sister, Monique, told how he also raped her from the age of 12.
“He told me to go to the bedroom, he asked me to sit down and then lie down on the bed, and he put a knife to my throat. He said: ‘Listen: what happens remains between us. You don’t tell anyone, or there’s a bullet for mom and a bullet for you. ‘ That continued every week. It was getting more and more violent, ”Monique said.
Polette’s ex-wife, Michèle, also spoke about how Polette threatened her. “He was a monster that did not deserve to live,” he said.
Defense attorney Nathalie Tomasini had asked for Bacot’s acquittal, saying she was not in her right mind at the time of the murder. “Valérie is the voice of all those who have been victims of violence, behind closed doors, about whom we know nothing,” he told the court.
He rejected the prosecutor’s claim that Bacot’s action was premeditated. “Do you think she said to herself at one point, ‘I want to kill him’? No, I couldn’t have. “
Tomasini asked the court to set a legal precedent and acquit Bacot. The attorney general had asked for a four-year prison sentence with three suspended, which would mean that Bacot would be released because he had already spent a year in prison.
“We are at a crossroads between the old and the new world. The attorney general understood the dilemma. He has pleaded for a lenient sentence, but has asked for a conviction. I am asking you to acquit Valérie Bacot, ”said Tomasini.
Janine Bonaggiunta, a second defense attorney, added: “Valerie and her children are alive today because of her… Yes, she killed him, but it was her or him. She killed the person who attacked her, prostituted her, treated her like an object ”.
However, the attorney general insisted on a conviction. “Premeditated murder can never be a legitimate defense. It is a desire to kill someone, premeditated, in the context of marital violence. This court must apply the law, ”he argued.
Earlier in the week, Bacot’s lawyers announced that they were taking legal action against the French state for “gross negligence” after allegations that authorities had failed to act on reports that she was being abused.
Before the jury left, Bacot told the court: “I want to apologize to my children. I feel sorry for the children that he (Polette) had before. Sorry for your partners. And thank you all for listening to me. “He said all he wanted now was to” turn a page. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism