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PPDA accused of rape: where is the investigation?

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The investigation targeting Patrick Poivre d’Arvor has changed its approach. The judges are now analyzing the rape charges against him as a whole to determine their possible serial nature, which would make it possible to circumvent their prescription.

Several investigations have been launched. In June 2021, a first preliminary investigation, collecting the testimony of 23 women, was dismissed by the Nanterre public prosecutor’s office (Hauts-de-Seine), mainly for prescription but also for “absence of a punishable offense” or “infringement insufficiently characterized.

A second is in progress, seven other women having testified. At the same time, a judicial investigation was opened after a complaint by the writer Florence Porcel, who accuses Patrick Poivre d’Arvor of having forced her to have sex in 2004 and fellatio in 2009.

The investigating judges responsible for this investigation had decided to immediately dismiss the facts of 2004 – appearing to be time-barred since 2014 – and to investigate those of 2009.

A choice rejected at the end of June by the Versailles Court of Appeal, which recalled that the limitation period, the period beyond which it is no longer possible to prosecute the perpetrator of an offense, was not inevitable.

The starting point of the prescription can indeed be postponed. In the event of an act of investigation, the starting point is no longer the date of commission of the facts but that of this act.

Similarly, if there is a link between offenses – same author, modus operandi, goal or profile of victims – an interrupting act for one of these offenses can interrupt the prescription of another and set a new starting point for it.

“On the front”

The investigation into PPDA must therefore now verify whether the facts of 2004 have a close link with other non-prescribed offenses, according to explanations obtained by AFP.

The investigating judges have not yet heard from PPDA. But the latter had given his story during the preliminary closed investigation.

On May 18, 2021, he denied having had any sexual relationship with Florence Porcel, accusing her of having “a lot of imagination”, according to the minutes of his hearing consulted by AFP.

He had summed up their meeting in 2004, in his office at TF1, with a kiss “on the forehead”. Then “she slid her lips on mine,” he said, ensuring that “there was not the shadow of a quarter of sexual intercourse”.

According to him, the one who was then a journalism student had contacted him by telling him “about health problems”. “Touched by his message”, he had “phoned him briefly”, says PPDA, who insisted to the investigators on his sensitivity since the suicide of his daughter.

Florence Porcel, 21, then attended her news and would have “asked her to kiss her” in her office, says PPDA.

Florence Porcel, she denounced a non-consensual sexual intercourse, during which Patrick Poivre d’Arvor would have declared: “now you are a woman”.

She described, in an interview with Le Parisien in 2021, a “state of total amazement” then having plunged “into denial” by persuading herself to be “in love” so as not to “not collapse”.

Regarding the facts of 2009, she assured to have said “no” several times.

“This name means nothing to me”

Twenty-two other women testified to rape, assault and/or sexual harassment between 1985 and 2003, mainly in the PPDA office.

The latter claimed not to remember several of them. “This name means nothing to me,” he repeated during his free audition.

“What interest would all these women have in lying to us?” asks a policeman. “Some people may be angry with me for having forgotten them” or have “perhaps turned into activists”, replies PPDA.

The testimonies show “a similar modus operandi” with “intimate questions” that PPDA is accused of having asked, also underlines the investigator: “are you in a relationship?”, “faithful?”, “naked?”, “Do you masturbate?”…

“Before entering into a relationship with someone, I need to know if this person is free and available. On the other questions, I dispute them”, defends Mr. Poivre d’Arvor.

The testimonies “do not present you as a seducer but more as a sexual predator who obtains sexual favors by surprise”, note the investigators. “It’s absolutely not me (…) I respect women,” defends PPDA, whose lawyer did not respond to AFP.

Counsel for Ms Porcel and other women declined to comment.