Valérie Bacot: start of the trial of a Frenchwoman who killed her abusive “stepfather” who became husband

In her bestseller Tout Le Monde Savait published in May, Valérie Bacot, 40, admitted having shot Daniel Polette in self-defense in 2016. She faces a life sentence for murder.

“It is with this same weapon, in another forest one day and so that he does not kill us that I killed him”, wrote Bacot.

Bacot said Polette, 25 years older than her, first raped her when she was 12. At the time, Polette was her mother’s boyfriend, but Bacot calls him her stepfather in the book.

In 1996, Polette was convicted of rape of a minor and spent two and a half years in prison, Bacot’s lawyer Nathalie Tomasini told CNN.

Bacot wrote in his book that after Polette’s release he began to abuse her again and that she got pregnant at the age of 17.

“One morning in the dining room, he starts screaming because I didn’t put the baby’s toys away properly. He turns to me and slaps me hard without warning,” Bacot wrote, remembering one. of the countless times she has been hit by Polette.

Over the course of 18 years, Bacot and Polette had four children together, two of whom helped bury their father’s body after Bacot shot him dead. In 2019, they each received a 6-month suspended prison sentence for concealing a human corpse, Bacot’s lawyer said.

During the investigation, the children spoke of the relentless abuse their mother suffered from Polette. According to court documents, the court-appointed psychiatrist said Bacot was “clearly under Polette’s control”.

Bacot told police she had been repeatedly beaten by Polette and forced her into prostitution.

On several occasions, Polette is said to have told Bacot that if she left him, he would kill her and their children.

“Don’t worry: one day you will leave here,” Polette said when he uttered such a threat, as Bacot recalled in his book.

“But it will be the feet first, and the children too!”

A scourge that will survive Covid-19

The prosecutor said Polette’s murder was premeditated; Bacot’s lawyers deny this.

A petition not to jail Bacot was launched online by lawyers in January, which has so far received more than 580,000 signatures.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Bacot’s case is reminiscent of Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of shooting her husband three times in the back with a shotgun in 2012 – just a day later that their son hanged himself. After serving three years behind bars, Sauvage was released from prison in 2016 when then-president François Hollande granted him a pardon.

NGOs are sounding the alarm on feminicides in France. This year alone, 43 women have lost their lives at the hands of their partner or their husband, according to the defense group “Feminicides by companion or ex”, against 90 women in 2020, according to the French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond- Moretti. The French Ministry of the Interior recorded 146 feminicides in 2019.

Correction: An earlier version of this story named the wrong place as the trial site.


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Guillermo Russell

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