The end of omerta in the big schools? The Evry prosecutor’s office said on Friday that it had opened several rape investigations in large schools located on the Saclay plateau, in Essonne south of Paris, after having received “several complaints”. “Speech has been released” in “closed places where it was difficult to speak and be heard because it was necessary to preserve the reputation of the establishments”, welcomed the prosecutor Caroline Nisand. His prosecution has opened investigations at CentraleSupélec, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS), Polytechnique and the Institut d’Optique. Among these rape investigations, three were entrusted to judges: one at CentraleSupélec and two at ENS.
The prosecutor underlined “a dynamic” of freedom of speech which contributed to “lifting the omerta which reigned on the campus” of Saclay, located in the Paris suburbs. The magistrate dates this release from the distribution of an internal questionnaire from the CentraleSupélec engineering school, which had revealed a hundred acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape over the university year.
The results of this internal investigation had been reported by the school management to the prosecutor of Évry, who then opened a preliminary investigation in October 2021 and went to the establishment to discuss with the students gathered in a full amphitheater, accompanied by the gendarmes.
Now, two investigations are underway at CentraleSupélec, following two complaints of rape: one led by the prosecution and the other entrusted to an investigating judge. Similar revelations had marked Polytechnique, where the management “in shock”, had reported to justice the results of an internal questionnaire. According to this questionnaire, one in four students surveyed said they had been the victim of sexual assault in their schooling and eleven students said they had been victims of rape or attempted rape. The prosecution had opened an investigation in April.
The complainants are all students and the suspicions relate to other students
To date, the Évry prosecution has three preliminary investigations underway, following two complaints of rape at Polytechnique and one report. Two investigations were also entrusted to judges in early June at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) for rape and sexual assault, following two complaints. A preliminary investigation is underway at the Institut d’Optique for rape and sexual assault.
The complainants are all students and the suspicions relate to other students: there is no, “at this time, a relationship of authority” between the complainants and the suspects, specifies the prosecutor.
At Polytechnique, an elite engineering school, nearly one in four female students say they have been the victim of a sexual assault since the start of their studies at the establishment. Among those interviewed, a total of eleven said they had been victims of rape or attempted rape, according to a survey carried out by the management. This questionnaire, conducted from January 19 to February 6, in consultation with the students, “followed the actions committed at CentraleSupélec.
At CentraleSupélec, a partnership has been launched with France Victimes, to set up “a listening line and comprehensive support for victims by professionals during interviews, particularly psychological and legal”. To measure the extent of this sexual violence in these elitist environments, a Student Observatory of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Higher Education was created in 2019. And according to the results of one of their studies published in October 2020, a female student in twenty say they have already been the victim of rape.