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French intellectual Olivier Duhamel confesses to sexually abusing stepson

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Olivier Duhamel, the prominent political scientist at the heart of an incest scandal that has shocked France, has confessed to sexually abusing his stepson when he was in his early teens, French media reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to the investigation.

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Duhamel, a former head of France’s top political science institute and a regular pundit on French television, has been accused by his daughter-in-law Camille Kouchner of abusing her twin brother when they were in their early teens.

He admitted the allegations on Tuesday in an interview with a special police unit that investigates crimes committed against minors, sources close to the inquiry told AFP.

His stepson, now aged 45, pressed charges against Duhamel in January, leading the authorities to open an investigation for rape and sexual assault.

Kouchner first made the allegations in a book published in January, which sparked a tide of accusations of incest, a term used in France for sexual abuse of relatives, even if it is not a blood relative. 

The allegations prompted a national reckoning with the abuse of minors and accelerated a push by President Emmanuel Macron’s government for new laws to protect children.

>> After Duhamel incest scandal, French lawmakers bid to break omerta

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Last month, the lower house of parliament adopted a bill that would automatically make sex between an adult and a child under 15 statutory rape, punishable by 20 years imprisonment. The bill would also make it illegal for an adult to have sex with a relative aged under 18.

Almost one in 10 French people have been victims of incest, according to a recent survey by French polling institute Ipsos.

In her book, “La Familia Grande”, Kouchner reveals that dozens of her mother’s intellectual friends – some of them household names in France – knew about the abuse but chose to keep quiet.  

Kouchner’s book sparked a wave of reactions on Twitter under the hashtag #MeTooInceste, encouraging many victims to come forward and break their silence. It also prompted stark condemnations of witnesses protecting perpetrators through their silence.

Following the accusations against him, Duhamel announced his resignation from all his posts, including as head of the National Foundation of Political Sciences (FNSP), a body that oversees the hugely prestigious Sciences Po university.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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