— Internet News

French woman Valerie Bacot spared more jail after killing husband

A French woman who killed her rapist husband was spared any more jail time Friday in a case that has become a rallying cause for feminists. Valerie Bacot, who shot her husband, Daniel Polette, dead in 2016, was sentenced to a four-year term with three years suspended. After walking free, a French woman forced to marry her abusive stepfather before killing him received applause in court.

The courtroom’s verdict was met with thunderous applause, and some of Bacot’s friends and family burst into tears. Announcing the jury’s decision, Judge Celine Therme said the court had recognized the “terror” Bacot endured for years. Prosecutors had told the court that the 40-year-old should not return to prison, as she was “very clearly a victim” of her tyrannical husband. But she walked free from the court in Saone-et-Loire in eastern France as she had already served a year in pre-trial detention.

Bacot was 12 when Polette, her mother’s boyfriend, first raped her.

He was imprisoned after the initial rape but continued to abuse Bacot after being released, and she became pregnant when she was 17. Bacot’s alcoholic mother threw her out of the house, and she was forced to live with Polette, who later coerced her into sex work.

Bacot, who confessed to shooting 61-year-old Polette and hiding his body in a forest with the help of two of her children, published a book last month about her experiences, “Everyone Knew”. Her case has become a feminist cause celebre in France when more women are breaking their silence on sexual assault.

Valerie Bacot

“I want to thank the court,” Bacot said as she walked free, sounding frail. “It’s a new fight now for all the other women and all the abuse,” she said, adding that she felt “empty” rather than relieved.

State prosecutor Eric Jallet told the court: “Valerie Bacot should not have taken the life of the person who was terrorizing her.” But judges should “uphold the transgression without incarcerating her again”, he said.

A visibly tired Bacot had collapsed upon hearing the prosecutor’s request, prompting an intervention of emergency personnel and a brief suspension of the hearing.

More than 700,000 people signed a petition demanding that Bacot, who had risked life in prison, be cleared.

She told the court how she had felt trapped in staying with her abuser.

“I wanted to keep my child. I had nobody. Where could I go?” she said. Polette became increasingly violent, attacking her with a hammer and forcing her to work as a prostitute for truck drivers in the back of a van. Polette threatened to kill her and the children if she left him, pointing a gun at her many times. Bacot described her life as an “extreme hell”.

When he started questioning their 14-year-old daughter Karline about her budding sexuality, Bacot said she decided, “This has to stop”. In March 2016, after Polette ordered Bacot to undergo another sexual humiliation by a client, she shot her husband with his gun.

Bacot said she wanted to make sure her daughter would not suffer the same fate that she had.

A court-ordered expert evaluation found that Bacot was “certain that she needed to commit this act to protect her children”.

Bacot hid the body in a forest, but in October 2017, she was arrested and released on bail.

Her lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini, previously defended Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman sentenced to 10 years for killing her abusive husband. Sauvage won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol in the fight to stop violence against women.

Tomasini said that Friday’s verdict was still too harsh while allowing Bacot to walk free.

“How can society ask Valerie Bacot for redress when it did not know how to protect her?” she said.

Tomasini listed a “chain of dysfunctions” that prevented authorities from protecting Bacot, including that relatives had twice tried to alert the police, in vain.

Violence against women has become an increasingly prominent political issue in France, where cases of women being murdered by their partners have repeatedly grabbed the headlines in recent years.

Hundreds of women staged a protest in Paris on Friday against what they said was government inaction, carrying signs that read, “Silence is killing us”.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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