French TV Presenter Investigated Over Rape Accusations


PARIS — Prosecutors in France have opened an investigation into rape accusations against one of the country’s best-known news presenters after a female writer said that he had sexually assaulted her.

The investigation against the presenter, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, was confirmed on Friday by the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre after Le Parisien newspaper reported the accusations a day earlier.

Mr. Poivre d’Arvor’s lawyer, François Binet, denied the accusations and said his client would file two complaints against the writer, Florence Porcel, for making false accusations and for defamation.

A series of sexual abuse scandals have rocked France’s political, cultural and media elite over the past year, including the fall from grace of a pedophile writer who for decades was protected by powerful friends.

A former deputy mayor of Paris was investigated over accusations that he had raped a young man, though the case was eventually dropped because the statute of limitations had run out. And a book published in January that accused a prominent French intellectual of incest set off a reckoning on child abuse.

In the case of Mr. Poivre d’Arvor, Le Parisien reported that he assaulted Ms. Porcel, a 37-year-old writer and YouTuber, on two occasions.

In 2004, when she was 21, it said, Mr. Poivre d’Arvor invited her to come and watch his news show after she wrote to him. After the show, he took her to his office and sexually assaulted her, according to the newspaper. The two kept in touch, and he assaulted Ms. Porcel again in 2009, the paper said.

A person with knowledge of Ms. Porcel’s accusations, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is still in progress, said that the newspaper accurately stated her account.

The prosecutor’s office did not confirm any details about the case. Ms. Porcel’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Poivre d’Arvor is a household name in France. He has presented the prime-time evening news for more than two decades, having started his career as a newsreader in the early 1970s and quickly rising to prominence. He presented France’s most-watched news show, on the channel TF1, from 1987 to 2008.

But he also had some notable professional failures, including an apparently fabricated interview with the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in 1991.

Mr. Poivre d’Arvor filmed himself asking questions and then used Mr. Castro’s answers at a news conference, but gave the impression that it had been an exclusive interview. He denied that it was fabricated and said the segment was just badly edited: There were no repercussions for the incident.

In 1996, Mr. Poivre d’Arvor received a 15-month suspended jail sentence after being convicted of accepting bribes from the stepson of a prominent politician.

Since leaving TF1 in 2008, he has hosted various shows, including a literary program that ended last month before the accusations emerged. He has also written about 60 books.

It was through a book that Ms. Porcel first alluded to her accusations. In January, she published an autobiographical novel, “Pandorini,” in which she tells a story that she says was “inspired by an episode in her life.”

It recounts how a famous actor assaulted her, an act that she called “the destruction of the innocence of a young adult by a powerful man.”

Gaëlle Fournier contributed research.


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