After a jury trial in Paris, two French police officers were found guilty on Thursday of raping a Canadian tourist in 2014. Both on Thursday received seven-year prison terms. The case has attracted widespread attention.
Emily Spanton, 39, who has waived her right to anonymity, met officers Antoine Quirin and Nicolas Redouane, 40 and 49, at an Irish pub. They worked for the Brigade de Recherche et d’Intervention, an elite anti-gang unit tasked with investigating serious offending, and offered Spanton a late night tour of the famed police headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres.
CCTV captured their arrival at the building, entering at 0:40 after Spanton smoked a cigarette; she departed in tears, without her tights, and carrying her shoes at 2:00. In between, she testified, she was gang raped by Quirin, Redouane, and an unidentified third officer. She told the court she was forced to drink whiskey and perform oral sex on the men before being raped.
She told a guard at the door, in French and English, “they raped me”. The defendants claimed Spanton first complained of theft (vol), not rape (viol). Quirin denied any sexual activity, but upon learning his DNA was on Spanton’s underwear he claimed sex had been consensual; Redouane consistently claimed sex was consensual. Photographs, videos, and text messages from the night were deleted by the two officers, who were allowed to go home within hours of the allegation.
Spanton had her home and computer searched; officers traveled to Canada and interviewed her friends and family. An initial attempt to prosecute Quirin and Redouane failed; the case was thrown out of court due to insufficient evidence, but an appeal by Spanton and prosecutors secured the opportunity to present the evidence to a jury. At trial, she was questioned on her clothing, and her drinking and sexual habits. Unlike the accused, Spanton was tested for alcohol. She was also drug tested and questioned for hours.
Howard Rubel, a Toronto lawyer representing Spanton, told the BBC after the verdict “My client is of course very relieved with the verdict and is glad that she withstood the very arduous process that led to today. She is glad that she did her part in allowing justice to unfold.” Sophie Obadia, another lawyer for the victim, told reporters “Women in France who have been raped don’t have to justify their private life. The court has found that Mme Spanton did not lie, she is not a liar. She was portrayed as a liar, she did not lie.”
Both officers indicated they would appeal; Quirin wept in his lawyer’s arms when convicted. In addition to prison, the men’s identities, protected during the three-week trial owing to their police jobs, are now public and they are to pay €20,000 (£17,500; US$22,900) in compensation.
The head of the police’s internal investigators told the court “Basic investigations weren’t done.” She also said “I regret we weren’t called immediately. If we had been, I could have made efforts to secure the scene. We could also have heard the officers more rapidly.” In the event, the scene was not secured. The officers, although initially suspended from duty, are back to work. They indicated they would seek suspension of their imprisonment pending their appeals.