We hope to see these "officers" brought to justice. With DNA proof and texts found, there is no more denying the assault took place. Cases like this highlight how we still condemn a woman for drinking or partying before an assault and use her right to participate in activities like this against her.
To shine a light on how stupid this way of thinking is, an example: if I walked into a bar and the bartender was intoxicated and I went behind the bar and took all the money.. Would that be okay? Answer: no, Viktoria that would not be okay, that money doesn't belong to you...
Exactly, neither does a woman's body.
‘I don’t want to live in a world where I’m silent’: French courts back Canadian’s rape allegations
A French prosecutor has recommended proceeding with a trial on a Toronto woman’s accusations of a gang rape by Paris police.
After an exhaustive investigation into a Toronto woman’s explosive allegations that she was raped by officers inside Paris police headquarters in 2014, France’s public prosecution office is recommending two officers go to trial for viol en reunion — gang rape.
According to a source close to the investigation, the prosecutor’s recommendation follows a two-year probe led by a French investigative judge that found sufficient incriminating evidence against the officers to merit a trial — including an explicit text from one officer to another calling the woman a derogatory sexual name.
A panel of French judges must now review the recommendation and determine if there should be a trial, a decision expected in the coming weeks.
But the prosecutor’s recommendation is already a significant legal victory for the woman at the centre of the international scandal — one she says was hard-fought and is bittersweet.
“I feel like I’ve actually been seen and heard for the first time in two years,” said Emily Spanton, 36, during a recent interview in the Niagara Region, where she now lives.
“But then I also feel sadness that I have more to do, that it’s not over.”
Spanton, the daughter of a senior Toronto police officer, is revealing her identity to the Star to speak about her case and why she reported her allegations of rape, despite having to endure what she calls an invasive investigation.
The names of the officers alleged to have gang-raped Spanton cannot be published, due to a provision in French law that prohibits the identification of police officers working in certain units, according to French media lawyers.
As reported by French media, the two officers were from a prestigious anti-gang unit and were suspended after Spanton’s allegations triggered an investigation.
“My client fiercely reaffirms his innocence and is now confidently awaiting the decision of the investigating judges,” Sébastien Schapira, the lawyer of one of the two officers, said in a statement. Schapira has previously told reporters his client claims he had consensual sex with the victim.
Speaking to the Star, Spanton says she was extremely intoxicated on the night of the alleged assault and “was in no state to give consent.”
The allegations of gang rape stem from April 23, 2014, when Spanton, a tourist in France, met a group of about 10 officers from the anti-gang brigade at an Irish pub hosting a “Tequila Tuesday” party. Spanton and the officers began drinking together, then decided to go across the street to 36 Quai des Orfèvres, the famed Paris police headquarters, so Spanton could have a tour.
As previously reported by the Star, a source close to the investigation said Spanton told investigators that, once inside, she was walked past two security checkpoints, given scotch inside someone’s office, then raped by at least two officers.
According to French media reports, she then ran away from the officers and flagged down a police officer inside the station and reported she had been raped.
In France, allegations of rape brought to police are referred to the public prosecutor’s office, which launches a probe led by an investigating judge. Spanton’s case initially involved three officers, but the third was considered a “person of interest” and is not facing gang-rape charges.
“The prosecutor really looked at the whole file, all the details, and considers that Emily is telling the truth. This is very important for Emily,” said Sophie Obadia, Spanton’s Paris-based lawyer, in an interview.
Obadia believes the judges who will make the final decision to send the case to trial are likely to agree with the prosecutor’s “well-argued, precise” recommendation.
According to French newspaper Le Figaro, among the investigation’s findings was a text message sent from one of the officers now facing the gang rape charge to another shortly after meeting Spanton.
“Hurry up, she is a partouzeuse” — French slang referring to a woman who has sex with multiple partners at one time. The text message was deleted on the sender’s phone but found on the recipient’s cell.
The probe also found two officers took, then later deleted, photos and videos on their cellphones during the night when Spanton is alleged to have been raped, according to multiple media reports. Investigators could not recover them.
Last fall, more than 100 officers and staff at the Paris police headquarterswere asked to give DNA samples to aid in the ongoing investigation. French newspapers reported at the time that three DNA traces were found on Spanton’s underwear, two belonging to officers who are now under investigation and a third that had not been identified. French media have since reported the third DNA sample has still not been identified.
Obadia says there is mounting evidence against the officers and they will have a “weak defence.”
“In my opinion, (the officers) really thought that they would get out of this, they really thought that they would not be found, they really thought that Emily would not press charges, that she was too drunk, that she didn’t know what was going on,” Obadia said.
Spanton was required to undergo psychological reviews during the investigation, and French media have reported the results were contradictory.
One report found Spanton was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but had given a reliable description of the facts; another stated she has a tendency to overdramatize and that, because of “her personality” and “level of alcohol,” that psychologist had strong reservations about relying only on her testimony as an accurate account.
If the trial goes ahead and the officers are convicted, they face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Spanton’s case highlights stark differences between how France and Canada treat sexual assault cases, including how allegations are investigated and what information is considered relevant.
In a lengthy interview, Spanton, who says she has worked in real estate and addictions counselling, says there wasn’t a minute when she considered not reporting the alleged assault, particularly because the men were police officers.
Her dad, a longtime Toronto cop, taught her police officers should never abuse the power granted to them by society, she says.
“This is about police officers who took advantage of their authority, and I don’t want to live in a world that’s like that. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m silent,” she said.
But she admits the invasive nature of the investigation sometimes made her regret her choice to go to the authorities.
In Canada, once a sexual-assault allegation is made, there is little investigation into the character and history of the complainant, says Howard Rubel, Spanton’s Toronto-based lawyer. But a significant part of the probe into Spanton’s allegations involved determining her credibility, in turn placing “tremendous” demands on her. She was asked to provide information that could never be requested by North American authorities, he said.
Last year, a French investigative judge and two police officers travelled to Canada to conduct interviews with Spanton’s family, friends and ex-partners. Some interviews were conducted by the RCMP on behalf of French officials.
“She was told these people would be asked about her sexual reputation,” Rubel said. “Her personal sexual history, the assessments of psychiatrists and intimate details of her life were required to be divulged by her as a condition of continuing the investigation.”
This personal information will be entered as exhibits and become part of the public record if the case goes to trial, he said.
Rubel — a criminal lawyer who usually represents clients accused of rape, not the alleged victims — said the kind of personal information Spanton has had to provide would be invaluable to the defence. The more information that’s available about the complainant, the more a lawyer has to work with to build a defence.
For Spanton, the most difficult stage came last fall, when she was required to fly back to Paris for a process called a confrontation. For her case to proceed, Spanton had to go before a judge and each officer individually and state, in detail, what she accused each one of doing.
“It was painful for her. She had to remember things that happened some time before and things that she was trying not to remember,” said Obadia, Spanton’s Paris lawyer.
Spanton also found it difficult to be in back in Paris, where her case is a national scandal. She dyed her normally blond hair red to avoid possible recognition — local media had reported the victim was blond — and she and her lawyers changed her route through the courthouse to avoid being stopped by the press.
At the end of the final confrontation, Spanton says she voiced her opposition to how the investigation had probed into her personal life.
“(I said) ‘You’ve come to Canada, you’ve been in my family home, my dogs have licked your feet, you’ve met my ex-husband, my current partner, my ex-boss.
“‘I have done anything and everything you’ve asked of me because I want to be a co-operating witness, I want to be helpful and I want to show that I have nothing to hide,’” Spanton said she told them.
In the two years since the alleged rape, Spanton has made major changes in her life. Unable to work in the immediate weeks afterwards, she says, she lost her job at a Toronto real estate company, then moved to the Niagara area to be closer to her family.
“It’s given me a different perspective on what’s important in life,” she said.
One reason Spanton wants to speak about her case is to encourage sexual assault victims to seek help, saying there are many services available. She sees a therapist regularly and says organizations such as Victim Service of Ontario have been invaluable.
Spanton says she hopes to provoke more conversations about the “grey areas” of sexual assault, including the importance of obtaining informed and clear consent before engaging in sexual activity.
“We need to be having a societal conversation about what actual consent is,” she said.
A decision about whether the trial will go ahead in Spanton’s case is expected by the end of August.