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The founder of France’s #MeToo movement has been directed by a court in Paris to pay thousands of euros in damages for defaming the man who she accused of making lewd comments.
French journalist Sandra Muller in 2017 had accused television producer Eric Brion of making lewd comments about her at a party. She took to Twitter to share the details, using the hashtag #balancetonporc, which roughly translates to “squeal on your pig.” Her story ultimately inspired thousands of other people who share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
In June, Brion had acknowledged to the court that he had indeed made inappropriate comments, the day after, he had apologised over text messages.
He claimed that he did not get a response to his apology and that “Muller’s violence against me has never stopped. The violence of people hiding behind their phones.”
Previously, his lawyer Marie Burguburu had claimed that although Brion admitted having made the comments, the reason why they were filing a defamation suit as Muller had accused him of “sexual harassment at work” on Twitter.
Brion said that he regretted his words, but also claimed that he would instead be tried in a court of justice than in the court of social media.
Muller’s lawyer confirmed to CNN that she has been ordered by a French court to pay €15,000 ($16,500) in damages to Brion, as well as €5,000 ($5,500) of legal fees. She has further been ordered to delete the comments she had tweeted and to share the statements of the court on her account.
After the verdict, Muller said that the sentence was “disappointing” and that she will “keep fighting every day.”
“This decision does not mean women have to stop talking. Women have to keep expressing themselves; women have to continue denouncing reprehensible behaviours — all of them. Fear must not win,” she said.
Marie Laguerre, whose assault in Paris in 2018 went viral after it was captured on video, said, “I am angry! This ruling sends a clear message: it’s better to keep quiet. And, the reputation of a man is worth more than the body of a woman.”
“Sandra is paying the price for having broken her silence and paving the way for many other women to do the same,” she added. Francis Szpiner, Muller’s lawyer, that they would be appealing the court’s decision.
Sandra Muller condamnée pour diffamation avec 20 000 euros de dommages et intérêts.Nous faisons évidemment appel #balance ton porc
— Francis Szpiner (@fszpiner) September 25, 2019
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