Sixty-two convicted in child sex abuse case that horrified France

The four-month trial in Angers, on the river Loire, has appalled France and raised unanswered questions about the failure of police, social and parole workers to prevent the intense suffering inflicted on children and babies. The crimes allegedly took place between January 1999 and February 2002 in Angers's Saint-Leonard district.

Many of the accused, aged between 27 and 73 - including 26 women - were parents or grandparents of the abused children from a score of families in "sink" council estates. They took part in the sexual assaults themselves or accepted small payments, including cigarettes, drink and food, for use of their children.

Of the 65 accused, only three - who faced relatively minor charges - were acquitted. Another one was found guilty of a lesser crime but was given no punishment. The others were given sentences ranging from four months to 28 years in jail.

More than half of those convicted were unemployed. Many had been abused themselves as children. Many were illiterate but their "clients" included a local journalist, who was jailed for a year.

The man said to be the brutal driving force behind the network - named only as Eric J, 37 - was sent to jail for 28 years, with a recommendation that he serve at least 18 years behind bars. Described by the prosecution as "an ogre" and known to the children as "the fatty", Eric J was a convicted paedophile who had ignored parole conditions after being released from jail in 1999.

Parole and police officers failed to track him, even after part of his new paedophile prostitution network in Angers had been dismantled in 2001. His own four children were among those repeatedly raped and abused. One 12-year-old girl was said to have been raped 45 times.

Two of the other ring-leaders - Franck V and his wife, Patricia M - were given 18 and 16-year jail sentences. Patricia was found guilty of raping one of her own daughters and prostituting 11 children; Franck was found guilty of 14 counts of child rape.

Their family flat in a small block of council flats on the outskirts of Angers was said to be the scene of most of the incidents of rape and prostitution, involving 23 families - most of them supposedly under the supervision of social workers.

In almost all cases, the surnames of the convicted adults cannot be published in order to protect the identity of their children.

Both Franck and Patricia - said to have been the "treasurer" of the group - had themselves been abused as children or teenagers. In the case of Franck V, he had been prostituted at 17 by his down-and-out father. This man - Philippe V, 73 - also took part in the abuse of Franck's children. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison, with a recommendation that he should serve 18 years behind bars.

The testimony - which took 93 days spread over 18 weeks - was often confused and contradictory.

Several people said they saw Franck V raping his own children. One woman said he continued even when they called out "stop daddy, you're hurting me". Franck denied he abused his children, but accused his wife and father of doing so.

Asked by the president of the court why he had allowed his father to abuse his children after being a victim himself, Franck V said: "I didn't accept it. Either I killed [my father] or I stayed paralysed. In the end, I fled."

Another defendant, Jean-Marc J - also a previous offender - was given a 26-year sentence for three counts of rape.

A defence lawyer, Maître Pascal Rouiller, summing up earlier this month, said: "Out of 23 families involved, 21 were being monitored by social services. How is it that nothing was seen? There were 15 social workers calling on the family V. The [mother and father] were declared incapable of protecting the children in 1999. What happened? Lots of meetings and then nothing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Divers at Bouldnor Cliff underwater site in the Solent off the Isle of Wight, where the silt sample containing the einkorn DNA was found
life
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower