‘French author Ariane Fornia has been found guilty of defamation, after a former government minister challenged her claim of sexual assault. The verdict is another blow for the #MeToo movement in France.
A Paris court ordered Fornia, the daughter of former minister Eric Besson, to pay a symbolic one euro in damages and 3,000 euros in legal fees to Pierre Joxe, a former socialist minister who Fornia defamed with an allegation of sexual assault.
In 2017, Fornia accused Joxe – now 85 – of sexually assaulting her during an opera performance in Paris seven years earlier. She did not make an official complaint, but wrote about the encounter in a blog post, describing how “He slides his hand inside my thigh, goes up to my crotch…I utter a cry of muffled indignation. Ten minutes later, he starts again.”
Fornia’s accusation made national news, coming at the height of the MeToo movement. The same year, the New York Times reported that more than a dozen women accused film mogul Harvey Weinstein of assault, harassment and rape, and the hashtag #MeToo became a rallying call for a national outcry against similar stories of male misbehaviour, from the benign to the illegal and morally repugnant.
Joxe has been accused of sexual impropriety by more than one woman, but outright denies all the charges. He mounted the case against Fornia in 2018, after the author refused to retract her accusation and issue him an apology.’