France in Shock at Gang-Rape Trial of Police from Famous BRI Unit 

France in Shock at Gang-Rape Trial of Police from Famous BRI Unit 

Court hears how Canadian woman was allegedly raped by terrorism officers at 36 Quai des Orfèves

Kim Willsher in Paris | The Guardian UK

Emily Spanton grew up with police officers – her father had been a high-ranking officer in the Toronto force – so when two French officers she met while drinking in a Paris bar invited her to see their famous headquarters, she agreed.

Spanton was, she says, drunk and shaky on her feet. “I knew I wasn’t in a state to find my hotel. And I thought that going to a police station would sober me up as there would be plenty of lights and people,” the Canadian said.

But after she went upstairs at the celebrated 36 Quai des Orfèvres to the fifth floor and entered room 461, Spanton said she walked into “the worst night of my life”.           

What allegedly happened in the next 80 minutes in the early hours of 23 April 2014 is at the centre of an ongoing court case in chamber three of the assize court in Paris’s imposing Palais de Justice, and has left France shocked.

On Wednesday, Spanton, 39, cried as she told the three judges and nine members of the jury that she was gang-raped by at least two men. As she tried to leave, she says, she was dragged into another office and raped again.

In the dock are two members of the Brigade de Recherches et d’Intervention (BRI), an elite unit specialising in tracking down gang members and terrorists. Maj Nicolas R, 49, and Capt Antoine Q, 40, (French law prevents the names of the police officers being given) deny the charges, claiming Spanton consented to sex.

The shock in France is as much over the details of the case as the idea that the allegations are not just targeted at individual officers but at the reputation of this prestigious police unit.

L’Express magazine suggested the case had “poisoned” the Paris police force for almost five years and nearly signed the death warrant of the BRI.

Spanton’s legal team had battled to have the officers brought to trial after investigating judges decided there was no case to answer, citing “inconsistencies” in her testimony. After the Paris public prosecutor stepped in, this decision was overturned on appeal.

Police colleagues had suggested that because Spanton had allegedly been flirting and kissed the two officers during the evening, they believed she was happy to go further. “Their mistake was to have let the truth come out bit by bit because they were afraid of the consequences on their families and their careers,” one police officer told L’Express. “This has led to questions about their credibility.”

Spanton’s lawyer said the judges had travelled to Canada to interview her friends and family and “dig around” in her personal life, but had not done the same for the accused.

The building at 36 Quai des Orfèvres is a place of fact and fiction. Known to officers simply as “36”, its mythical reputation was immortalised by Georges Simenon’s celebrated detective Maigret and in French films. For real-life police, “36” is the top rung of the career ladder.

Attached to the Palais de Justice, the building was home to the Paris police force from 1913, when officers chased criminals on horses or bicycles, until 2017, when it moved to more modern buildings.

Spanton, who was working as an estate agent, said she had been drinking in Le Galway, an Irish bar near 36, when some time around midnight she agreed to go to the officers’ headquarters.

“They explained the police station had been the subject of films and made it sound like something I would want to see,” she said.

Even the softly spoken translator was unable to diminish the violence of the testimony of what happened after Spanton entered room 461. “Someone was forcing himself inside my mouth,” Spanton said. “Someone penetrated me. Then someone else. When it finished, I gathered up my belongings, but I couldn’t open the door. I was pulled into another office and everything happened again.”

Spanton said she remembered being raped by up to three men, but said she could not identify the third. She told the jury her glasses were taken from her and she was unable to see clearly.

“I just gave up; just wanted it to be over … I kept my eyes closed.”

She was, she insists, in “no fit state to consent” to anything. She says when she left the building 90 minutes later, barefoot and without her tights, she told the guards at the door she had been raped and they told her to “go home”.

DNA from both the accused was found on Spanton’s underwear. Her DNA was found on Antoine Q’s. No match was found for the DNA of a third man.

The two accused wiped all messages and videos from the night off their mobiles, but one found on a colleague’s phone read: “She likes an orgy, hurry up.”

Asked by the public prosecutor on Friday if it was “usual to take young women to your office”, Antoine Q, replied: “Not at all”. He said room 461 was his office and admitted having sex in it. Both men have returned to work in the police force. They face a jail sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.

After reading a medical report of Spanton’s injuries, the presiding judge, Stephane Duchemin, asked Spanton what she expected from the court. “I just want to stand up and publicly confront these men. Then I want to move on, close this chapter.”

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  • Clyde Duncan  On January 19, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    MAN, I am in a RAGE – RAPED AGAIN

    As I read the foregoing essay – My blood is boiling

    This woman is being RAPED AGAIN

    The only positive thing about this matter is that she is white and blonde

    Because, any other woman’s cry for justice would have been silenced – would NOT have seen the light of day!

    The author tells us French Law DOES NOT PERMIT publication of the names of the police officers

    However, French law permits publication of the victim’s name and address and her photo.

    Something is very wrong with this scenario

    The only positive thing I see here is the victim is white and blonde – just imagine if she were NOT.

    The French society and culture, as a whole, is NOT only protecting the NAMES of the police officers

    The French society and culture is protecting the reputation and prestige of the address of this despicable acts.

    French society and culture is raping this woman again – violating the victim!

    These police officers do NOT deny the charges – they claimed it was consensual sex …. So, that makes it okay?!?!!

    Is this considered “public service” in French society and culture?

    When these police officers were hired to serve the public – Is this abuse of authority what public servants had in mind?

    So why would you have consensual sex at your job site after some drinking in the bar?

    What are the rules and policy about being drunk on the job?

    So, let me guess – the police officers in question were NOT drinking – the victim was …

    Don’t they have personal vehicles? – Oh, let me guess, there was no back seat

    Or, it might have been a police vehicle – Therefore, French society and culture is footing the bill for the transportation and that is okay?

    And, French society and culture wants to protect this conduct?

    Police colleagues informed that “Their mistake was to have let the truth come out bit by bit because they were afraid of the consequences on their families and their careers,” one police officer told L’Express. “This has led to questions about their credibility.”

    Memo to Police Colleagues: Their mistake was RAPING a member of the public they were recruited to Serve and Protect.

    In any case, the Police Colleagues’ explanation is NOT a convincing defence – Their colleagues are telling us French police do NOT record nor document events?

    Are there no CCTV cameras at the police station nor anywhere within the perimeter?

    The essay informs: The two accused wiped all messages and videos from the night off their mobiles: …..

    The foregoing statement alone seems like consciousness of guilt and obstruction of justice, to me.

    This is just how the guilty would act – The police officers are acting like they know they are guilty as accused.

    This seems to me like a perfect set-up for another Rodney King Incident [1992 Los Angeles] but the victim is a Canadian woman.

    Frederick Douglass wrote in his 1866 essay in The Atlantic:

    One of the invaluable compensations of the late Rebellion is the highly instructive disclosure it made of the true source of danger to republican government.

    Whatever may be tolerated in monarchical and despotic governments, no republic is safe that tolerates a privileged class, or denies to any of its citizens equal rights and equal means to maintain them. What was theory before the war has been made fact by the war.

    There is cause to be thankful even for rebellion. It is an impressive teacher, though a stern and terrible one. In both characters it has come to us, and it was perhaps needed in both.

    It is an instructor never a day before its time, for it comes only when all other means of progress and enlightenment have failed.

    Whether the oppressed and despairing bondman, no longer able to repress his deep yearnings for manhood, or the tyrant, in his pride and impatience, takes the initiative, and strikes the blow for a firmer hold and a longer lease of oppression, the result is the same, — society is instructed, or may be.

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Minority Ethnic Britons Face ‘Shocking’ Job Discrimination

    Exclusive: UK research finds levels of discrimination unchanged since late 1960s

    Haroon Siddique | The Guardian UK

    Black Britons and those of south Asian origin face “shocking” discrimination in the labour market at levels unchanged since the late 1960s, research has found.

    A study by experts based at the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, found applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds had to send 80% more applications to get a positive response from an employer than a white person of British origin.

    A linked study by the same researchers, comparing their results with similar field experiments dating back to 1969, found discrimination against black Britons and those of south Asian origin – particularly Pakistanis – unchanged over almost 50 years.

    The research, part of a larger cross-national project funded by the European Union and shared exclusively with the Guardian before its official launch, prompted concerns that race relations legislation had failed.

    It echoes findings published as part of the Guardian’s Bias in Britain series that people from minority ethnic backgrounds face discrimination when seeking a room to rent.

    In a snapshot survey of online flatshare ads the Guardian found that an applicant called Muhammad was significantly less likely to receive a positive response than an applicant called David.

    Prof Anthony Heath, co-author and emeritus fellow of Nuffield College, said: “The absence of any real decline in discrimination against black British and people of Pakistani background is a disturbing finding, which calls into question the effectiveness of previous policies. Ethnic inequality remains a burning injustice and there needs to be a radical rethink about how to tackle it.”

    The researchers sent almost 3,200 applications to both manual and non-manual jobs – including software engineers, marketing, chefs and shop assistants – advertised on a popular recruitment platform between November 2016 and December 2017.

    The study, which will be launched at the British Academy, London, on Friday, included 33 different minority ethnic groups, belonging to five broad groups.

    Additionally, two minority ethnic groups – Nigerian and Pakistani – were designed to have sufficiently large numbers of applications for separate analysis.

    Different ethnicity applicants were randomly assigned to different job vacancies – only one application was sent per post – and the number of callbacks/invitations for interview compared.

    On average, 24% of applicants of white British origin received a positive response from employers, compared with 15% of minority ethnic applicants applying with identical CVs and cover letters. All of the minority applications clearly stated that they were either British-born or had arrived in the country by the age of six and had obtained all their education and training in Britain.

    Minority ethnic applicants, including white minorities, had to send 60% more applications to get a positive response from an employer than a white person of British origin. While applicants originating from western Europe and the US were treated almost as well as the majority group, people of Pakistani origin had to make 70% more applications.

    The figures were even higher for those of Nigerian, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) origin, at 80% and 90% respectively.

    Dr Zubaida Haque, the deputy director of the race equality thinktank Runnymede, described the findings as shocking. They demonstrated that “it’s not just covert racism or unconscious bias that we need to worry about; it’s overt and conscious racism, where applicants are getting shortlisted on the basis of their ethnicity and/or name”, she said.

    “It’s clear that race relations legislation is not sufficient to hold employers to account. There are no real consequences for employers of racially discriminating in subtle ways, but for BME applicants or employees it means higher unemployment, lower wages, poorer conditions and less security in work and life.”
    The researchers said the high levels of discrimination from countries with a sizeable Muslim population echoed “strong anti-Muslim attitudes recorded in recent surveys”.

    Dr Valentina Di Stasio, co-author and an assistant professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, said: “The persistent gaps in callbacks found for more visible and culturally distant minorities, regardless of the occupation considered or the information included in the application, suggest that employers may simply read no further as soon as they see a Middle East-sounding or an African-sounding name.”

    As past field experiments did not include people from MENA countries, it could not be ascertained whether the level of discrimination against them had changed over time. Additionally, the historical comparison could only be done for non-manual jobs, due to insufficient past data on manual jobs.

    Nevertheless, the authors described the evidence of enduring discrimination against some minority ethnic groups as striking given the passage of the Race Relations Act 1976 and that many of the earlier studies included applicants born abroad with some foreign education.

    They said that while surveys had found declining racial prejudice among the public, the lack of change in the workplace reflected the continued presence of “employer stereotypes about the linguistic and work-related skills and motivations of minorities”.

    There were hints that discrimination against applicants of Indian origin may be in decline but the researchers said the sample size of people with Indian names in their study was too small to draw firm conclusions.

    Responding to the results, Matthew Fell of the Confederation of British Industry said: “Any bias is bad for business. Companies must act now to eradicate all forms of discrimination, including any bias in recruitment.”

  • walter  On January 19, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    sounds like something the Toronto Police might do????? WHAT! WHAT! Don’t think that color matters, actually nothing changes the situation, life scarring event, jail their asses.

  • Trevor  On January 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    What happened to the story of the Ontario woman who claimed that she was raped at Princess Hotel by a GDF official, after consenting to sexual relations? She contends that he put it in the wrong hole and this was a crime of rape.

    They say the woman was East Indian and the GDF official was not of that background, some say that it was a racist operand borrowed from the ABC countries to bring down certain backgrounds of men, as what is now happening to men such as Bill Cosby.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Tortured and Raped for Protesting Against Maduro

    Braulio Polanco | Caracas Chronicles

    “This case is unique and unprecedented in the nation, due to the pattern of violations, the sexual element, the cover-up and the criminal liabilities of the officers and their superiors.”

    On July 20th, 2017, I thought I had seen evil. While this crime was happening, I was probably checking my Twitter account, full of images of the crackdown on citizens who had been protesting all over Venezuela since April that year. Maybe I was in a march, confronting fear and tear gas, or sitting at home, listening to the roar of chavista colectivos on their bikes.

    I was way safer than the 20-year-old man who was detained by the National Police on his way to a protest, and taken to a makeshift prison in a facility of public electric company CORPOELEC in Maracaibo.

    He was beaten and sexually tortured by at least 10 officers and taken to a military court five days later, blatantly violating due process because, FIRST, he’s a civilian and, SECOND, the law establishes a maximum of 48-HOURS between an arrest and a preliminary hearing. Still, that young man had the courage to denounce his ordeal to a judge that sent him to prison anyway, his victimizers walking scot-free…

    At least until now.

    He was beaten and sexually tortured by at least 10 officers and taken to a military court five days later, blatantly violating due process.

    “IT WAS NOT JUST RAPE, IT WAS SEXUAL TORTURE: a human rights violation because it was committed by active state security forces,” says María Inés Hernández, spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission of Zulia State (CODHEZ), responsible for the young man’s defense.

    “Any detainee must be immediately taken to a detention center to establish the responsibility of his well-being under custody. The order to use CORPOLEC offices already violates due process, and that order was given by ranking officers who are fully identified but weren’t indicted,” she explains.

    The case was postponed seven times in 2018 for reasons like blackouts or not notifying the victim. In CODHEZ, they don’t think this is a coincidence, because, “what’s the goal? To make the victim abandon the process.”

    And this is precisely what makes the case noteworthy: the victim [who chose to remain anonymous] and his lawyers didn’t abandon their efforts, and several journalists reported the issue which “generated decisive pressure for the positive results obtained in the last hearing.”

    Currently, there are eight officers imprisoned in the National Bolivarian Police unit in Sierra Maestra, San Francisco municipality; the other two fled and are now wanted by Interpol. Meanwhile, the case can’t advance to trial because the Prosecutor’s Office didn’t collect the evidence correctly.

    On February 21st, the preliminary hearing was repeated and the charge of torture was dismissed, while the defendants, whose imprisonment was ratified, didn’t admit their responsibility.

    Files show over 20 people with forensic examinations that were also sexually abused and mistreated at the same time, date and place, but the Prosecutor’s Office didn’t include them in the process. Those victims and their families have received threats.

    So, yes, I was lucky that day. Maybe the worst I got was tear gas or the distant horror that you perceive on a screen and not under the skin, like these people do now.

    Justice won’t erase what happened, but it will allow for healing … if we put enough pressure on them.

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