Prominent French Intellectual Steps Down Amid Accusations of Incest

Last year, Vanessa Springora, a publisher, accused Gabriel Matzneff, a prizewinning author, of abusing her when she was a minor. He had never hidden having sex with girls and boys in their teens but long enjoyed the complaisance of his literary entourage.

In 2019, Adèle Haenel, a movie star, accused a director, Christophe Ruggia, of sexually harassing her when she was in her teens. Ms. Haenel walked out of France’s César movie awards last year when the director Roman Polanski, who is wanted in the United States for statutory rape involving a 13-year-old girl, won best director.

Ms. Kouchner is frank about her anger toward this artistic world, centered, as she sees it, in fashionable left bank districts of Paris. “Very quickly,” she writes, “the microcosm of people in power, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, was informed. Many people knew and most pretended nothing had happened.” She continues, “This silence is not only cowardice. Some are delighted to be quiet. This obligation attests to their belonging to a certain world.”

It was unclear whom exactly she was referring to and she offered no proof.

Attitudes may be starting to change. The French public prosecutor immediately said he was opening an investigation into Mr. Duhamel for rape of a minor and sexual aggression. He said the investigation would examine whether the crimes Mr. Duhamel is accused of fall within France’s statute of limitations, and would also examine the possibility of other victims.

Sciences Po issued a statement condemning “all forms of sexualized violence” and declaring “its shock and astonishment” at the “very grave accusations brought against Olivier Duhamel, the former president of the board of trustees that administers Sciences Po.” In a message to donors it added, “The fight against sexual and gender-based violence is at the heart of our institution’s core values and actions.”

Mr. Duhamel also parted company with Europe 1, the radio station where he had a weekly show, and LCI, the television network where he was a regular political commentator. He deleted his Twitter account after announcing his resignations.

In the book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Kouchner quotes her brother telling her at the time what Mr. Duhamel had done: “He came to my bed and said, ‘I will show you. You will see, everyone does that.’ He caressed me and then, you know.” Her brother, she writes, pleaded with her: “Respect this secret. I promised him, so you promise me. If you speak, I die.”

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