Ten jailed in N France child rape gang trial

2nd July 2004, Comments 0 comments

SAINT-OMER, France, July 2 (AFP) - The sensational trial in France of 17 people accused of gang-raping children ended Friday with several tough sentences but seven acquittals and major questions about the investigation process.

SAINT-OMER, France, July 2 (AFP) - The sensational trial in France of 17 people accused of gang-raping children ended Friday with several tough sentences but seven acquittals and major questions about the investigation process.

Thierry and Myriam Delay - the couple at the centre of the scandal that shocked the nation - were sentenced respectively to 20 and 15 years in prison om multiple counts of rape and renting out their own four sons for sex.

Thierry Delay was found guilty of raping nine children, carrying out sex attacks on six, pimping his sons and corrupting 12 children.

His wife was sentenced for the rape of seven children, sex attacks on 10, pimping her four boys and corrupting 11 other children.

Their neighbours in the northern town of Outreau, David Delplanque and Aurelie Grenon, received sentences of six and four years on similar charges while worker-priest Dominique Wiel got seven years.

Five other defendants also received prison or suspended sentences while seven of the accused were acquitted.

The 17 defendants, aged 24 to 67, went on trial nearly two months ago for the gang rape over a five-year period of 18 children - aged three to 12 at the time - in Outreau, outside the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Some of them had stood accused of committing torture and barbaric acts during the alleged sex sessions that took place in the Delay apartment in a rundown housing block, but those charges were not proven.

The emotional trial saw several see-saw days of testimony, with Myriam Delay first exonerating 13 of her co-accused in a tearful confession - only to reverse herself less than a week later, saying her initial claims were true.

"My children did not lie. I was there and I saw it all. It is not me who has destroyed the life of those who are accused here. It is they who have destroyed the life of my children," she said, causing an uproar in the courtroom.

One of the accused in the Outreau affair committed suicide in prison before the case came to trial. Many of the others have lost their jobs and their children have been taken into foster care.

Bailiff Alain Marecaux, handed an 18-month suspended sentence, and his estranged wife Odile - acquitted of all charges - separated in the aftermath of the scandal, and Odile lost custody of her three children.

One of their sons was hospitalized after trying to kill himself by swallowing razor blades.

"There are a certain number of things that are difficult to understand," said Hubert Delarue, the lawyer for Alain Marecaux, reflecting the general consensus among defence counsel that the jury's sentences were unfair.

Many of them gave as an example the fact that Grenon was sentenced to four years in prison for raping four children, while the worker-priest Wiel was sentenced to seven years in jail for three rapes.

"It's incomprehensible, as the legal logic was not followed through to the end," said Wiel's attorney Blandine Lejeune.

Questions were raised throughout the investigation and the trial about the testimony of the children, which was riddled with inconsistencies.

Those acquitted, who vehemently denied any involvement in the sex scandal from the start, were left wondering how to repair their shattered lives, and how the country's justice system could have failed them so miserably.

"This case proves that the legal system is on its last legs, as we have now seen the total negation of any presumption of innocence," Delarue said in May.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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