French police officers cleared on appeal of raping Canadian tourist

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A French appeals court on Friday overturned the convictions of two police officers accused of raping a Canadian woman at their Paris headquarters eight years ago.

The drawn-out case involving Antoine Quirin and Nicolas Redouane was widely followed and stoked claims of impunity for the security forces. But the two were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2019.

They admitted to bringing Emily Spanton to their offices following a night of drinking in April 2014, though they insisted the sex was consensual. A distraught Spanton later testified she told officers on duty at the fabled 36 Quai des Orfevres police HQ that she had been raped by up to three men, but said she was treated like a drunk and told to “go home”. 

Investigators found traces of DNA from three men on her underwear, and a medical examination found Emily had suffered a traumatic gynaecological injury, but a third suspect was never found. The two accused officers later wiped all messages and videos from their mobile phones, but one message found on a colleague’s phone suggested they were engaging in sex.

Tests also revealed that Stanton had taken anti-depressant medication, opiates and cannabis that night. But investigating judges in 2016 initially decided to drop the case, suggesting Stanton’s testimony was confused. Defence lawyers reiterated at the appeals trial in Creteil, outside Paris, that Spanton’s allegations had “shifted” on several occasions and claimed she had “lied” about what happened that night.

The two officers denied rape and said their stories had changed only in an attempt to hide an extra-marital affair from the media. Spanton denied their claims at the appeal, and explained any inconsistencies by the fact she was drunk and had undertaken extensive therapy sessions to “forget” the night. The court’s presiding judge did not read out the reasoning behind the verdict as the trial ended. “I think the main factor in this ruling is the inconsistencies of Ms Spanton, who was a plaintiff but then refused to provide explanations of the accusations she made,” said Pascal Garbarini, one of Redouane’s lawyers.

Family and supporters of the officers, formerly members of the elite BRI anti-gang unit, applauded as the acquittal was announced. Spanton, now 42, left the courthouse in tears. Featured in Georges Simenon’s “Maigret” detective novels, the “36” building is still used as police offices, but the headquarters have been moved to a new building in northwest Paris.


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