Article published on January 18, 2022 at 5:20 pm
By Jérôme Navy, lawyer at the Paris bar
On January 11, a former journalist of BFMTV and RMC filed a complaint against Jean-Jacques Bourdin for attempted sexual assault.
The facts would have taken place in October 2013, while the two journalists were covering the Open de pétanques in Calvi, Corsica. According to the complainant, the star presenter would have tried to kiss her by force while she was in the pool of the hotel where they were both staying. The star presenter would have then sent her insistent messages, by sms and emails, during several months.
Potential accumulation of criminal offences
It should be remembered that for the Cour de cassation, the simple fact of kissing a person without his consent can perfectly well characterize the offence of sexual assault1. The facts alleged by the plaintiff, if they were proven, would therefore fall under the criminal law. Apart from aggravating circumstances, sexual assault, as well as its attempt, is punishable by 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros2.
As for insistent messages, these could characterize the offence of sexual harassment3 if they were repeated and created "an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation" with respect to the complainant. if they created "an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation" with respect to the complainant. This offence is punishable by 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros.
Opening of a preliminary investigation, despite the statute of limitations
What about the statute of limitations, when this complaint comes almost 10 years after the facts? Until 2017, the statute of limitations for offenses was only three years from the time of their commission4 , compared to six years today. Since the facts referred to in the complaint occurred in 2013, the public action has therefore been extinguished a priori since October 2016.
Does this mean that there will be no further action on this case? No.
The Paris prosecutor's office announced this Tuesday the opening of an investigation, entrusted to the police station of the 16th district of the capital. As the Minister of Justice reminded us in a dispatch of February 2021,5 there is no legal provision preventing a prosecutor from investigating statute of limitations cases. Even in the case of old facts, the public prosecutor is free to initiate a preliminary investigation or not.
Internal investigation conducted by Altice Media
Moreover, as investigations are not the prerogative of the courts, the Altice Media group, owner of BFMTV and RMC, has already taken the lead, indicating that it is conducting an internal investigation.
Jean-Jacques Bourdin remains of course presumed innocent6. While waiting for possible developments, the presenter should continue his political program, Bourdin Direct, which attracts nearly 730,000 listeners every morning on RMC radio.
Jérôme Navy ❘ Lawyer at the Paris Bar
(1) Crim. 19 June 2019, 18-83.523
(2) Art. 222-27, C. pén.
(3) Art. 222-33, para. 1, C. pén.
(4) Art. 8, para. 1, C. proc. pén.
(5) CRI M-BOAP N°2021-0023-C10
(6) Article 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789