Lille: Did the judicial administration protect a clerk convicted of sexual harassment?
Omerta at the Lille court. In the very heart of the courthouse where the current Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, pleaded many times, a young clerk suffered sexual harassment from one of her colleagues for several months. If the man in question has since been sentenced, it is only at the cost of a trying obstacle course for his victim. In addition to the actions of her stalker, the young woman wanted to testify to the immobility of her hierarchy, even to the quasi-institutional protection from which the convicted clerk benefited and from which he still benefits.
Like many whistleblowers, it was Jane (assumed name) who suffered the consequences of the facts she wanted to denounce. If she wanted to tell her story through the voice of her lawyer, it is because of the double injustice she suffered. Starting with the sexual harassment of one of her fellow clerks when she took up her post at the Single Reception Service for the Litigant (SAUJ) of the Lille Court of Justice, in 2019.
“You like to get mashed potatoes on your face”
Everything goes almost normally at the beginning before things change, in May 2020, during the first confinement. From gritty jokes, he moves on to advances, then to more advanced advances and descends into harassment. “Perverse actions punctuated by phrases like ” you like sodomy ”, ” you like to receive mashed potatoes on your face ”, ” pull up your skirt ””, list master Juliette Alibert, Jane’s lawyer .
In October of the same year, the young clerk first confides in the occupational doctor before alerting her superiors, with recorded evidence in support. “While the case could have been sanctioned internally within the framework of an administrative investigation, his hierarchy decided to preserve his attacker”, deplores the lawyer. In short, no one does anything. “No protective measure has even been taken,” adds Alibert. A suspicious immobility of its leaders which could have got the better of Jane’s will to act.
Except no. Jane appeals to the Lille prosecutor, who immediately opens a criminal investigation leading to the indictment of the suspect, in February 2021. It is also thanks to this investigation that Jane discovers two other victims of her stalker, the one at the Bobigny court in 2014 and another in Lille in 2018. “They too had tried in vain to obtain protection from their hierarchy. Their assailant had not been sanctioned and they had given up going further,” explains Maître Alibert.
Sentenced to an internship to fight against sexism
It is therefore thanks to Jane’s pugnacity that the man is sentenced to a three-month suspended prison sentence, in April 2021, by the Dunkirk court. The defendant immediately appealed, but was again convicted by the Douai Court of Appeal last January. His sentence, however, is reduced to a simple internship to fight against sexism and raise awareness of equality between women and men. The harasser is all the better off if he is only lightly sanctioned by his administration. A “disguised sanction” in the form of a transfer within the jurisdiction of the Douai court. However, he filed an appeal.
On the other hand, it is the double penalty for Jane. The same supervisor who defended her harasser downgraded her professional evaluation, questioning her integrity at work. For this reason, and to try to obtain functional protection, Jane seized the Administrative Court of Lille. “The investigation should soon be closed and a decision can be expected in September. The whole issue is to know how the judge will recognize the wrongs of this administration which has shown itself incapable of resolving the difficulties internally, of taking the victim into consideration and of carrying out an investigation, ”insists master Alibert. A kind of “do as I say, not as I do” that tarnishes the very credibility of this administration.