French judo at the time of MeToo

After figure skating, it was judo’s world tour to find itself in turmoil. Two weeks after the revelations from Parisian on sexual abuse and one case of suspected rape by a trainer on a former judoka when she was 13, the French Judo Federation (FFJDA) reported this week that “New facts” of violence and abuse of a sexual nature had been brought to his attention. What push the Ministry of Sports to trigger a general inspection mission. «Speech is free, Minister Roxana Maracineanu congratulated in an interview with Liberation. We owe it to the victims to deal with these cases, to those who speak today but also to those who spoke and who were not listened to, and whose words did not go beyond the doors of the federation. ” The president of the federation, Jean-Luc Rougé, did not wish to answer our questions, explaining “Reserve the first elements for inspectors general”. In an email, however, he said he intended to “Treat this issue of the greatest importance with the greatest firmness”.

Read also Sexual violence in sport: the state must be on the front line

Vice-president and secretary general of the FFJDA, Jean-René Girardot said he was “Absolutely disgusted” by these “Evil”. “There are a lot of old cases, it is not today that the professors in question do this, but they still do”, he is indignant, specifying that 18 complaints of sexual violence or abuse have been identified for the moment on the platform of the federation. Why was she not made aware of this earlier? “Because the clubs do not inform us, replica Jean-René Girardot. Club leaders who should do so see this as whistleblowing, not whistleblowing. There is a lot of work to be done with them to change mentalities. ” According to the vice-president, each complaint filed resulted in provisional measures and the suspension of all federal activity of the accused persons.

Justice now seized with each report

Since the beginning of the health crisis, sports federations and clubs have preferred to focus on their number of licensees in free fall rather than on cases of sexual violence. But it’s good to one “Uninterrupted flow” of reports that we have been attending the listening cell of the Ministry of Sports since its creation in January. Among them, nearly twenty cases of sexual violence but also psychological or physical violence in judo and 330 cases have been identified for all sports. “Each case corresponds to an individual implicated, but there may be several victims”, explains the minister’s office.

The ministry therefore called the FFJDA and its president to account, while announcing the launch of a general inspection mission specific to violence within the federation. A procedure that echoes those recently put in place within the federations of ice sports and horse riding. The FFJDA therefore wants to change its functioning. “We will now systematically file a complaint with the courts for each case of sexual violence identified within the federation, reveals Jean-René Girardot. And we will become a civil party to be able to follow the case. ”

Read also Sexual violence: the world of sport looks at its demons

But even when justice takes the case, it is not always enough. In December 2019, Disclose revealed that several attackers remained in post in different sports after being convicted by the courts. This is the case of a judo coach in Alsace convicted in 2007 of sexual assault against one of his students, a 13-year-old minor. After a stint in prison, the trainer found a job in the Grand-Est. Questioned on a hidden camera by a France Televisions team in 2019, the man had assumed to have “Resumed children’s lessons”, in the presence of other teachers, while he is prohibited from training minors under the age of 15. An offense punishable by one year in prison according to the sports code.

“There are so many silos”

The icing on the cake, the trainer received in 2018 a bronze palm from the hands of Jean-Luc Rougé, a decoration that distinguishes technicians having “An influence on the whole region […], who respect values ​​and know how to control themselves ”. After the investigation of Disclose, the federation had recognized “A manifest error of discernment” and withdrew the medal from the coach who has since been banned from tatami. “It is for this type of case that we want to bring a civil action, says Jean-René Girardot. At least we will be kept informed of convictions, which was not the case here. ” Another problem: even when the ministry withdraws his card from an educator, there is not always a disciplinary sanction. He can take back a license and act as a volunteer. To remedy this, a good repute control system to check the criminal records of volunteers must be generalized from January 2021.

If the vice-president and general secretary of the Judo Federation concedes that they would have “Maybe could strengthen” certain provisions earlier, he believes that the lack of communication between the different services prevented any process. “There were so many partitions between all sectors: police and justice, youth and sport, the ministry and the federation, that we could not be united, he justifies himself. I believe that the minister’s policy has opened things up well. ”

Julie renson miquel

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