France opens rape probe of literary icon after book sparks paedophilia debate

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Paris (dpa) Paris prosecutors on Friday opened a rape probe after a writer published her account of a relationship she had, from the age of 14, with a prominent literary figure much older than her.

Vanessa Springora, now aged 47, wrote of the relationship with writer Gabriel Matzneff, now 83, in a book entitled “Le Consentement” [Consent], published on Thursday.

The book has sparked a debate in France about liberal attitudes towards sex with minors in some intellectual circles in the past.

In 1977, Matzneff was among the signatories of two calls for more relaxed laws on sexual relations with minors.

Other signatories included the writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

In his 1974 book “Les Moins de Seize Ans” [The Under-16s], Matzneff wrote that he was captivated “less by a particular sex than by extreme youth, that which runs from the age of 10 to 16 …”

In an interview with news magazine Le Nouvel Obs ahead of her book’s publication, Springora said she “always knew that [she] could only take back ownership of this story with a book, and in no other way.”

“She had been the victim of a triple predation: sexual, literary, and psychological,’’ she added.

Matzneff, in a letter to news magazine L’Express, accused her of wanting to throw him “into the accursed cauldron” with other cultural figures accused of sexual misconduct.

Paris prosecutor Remi Heitz said, in a statement that did not mention Matzneff by name, that the investigation would look into the acts detailed in Springora’s book and also seek to identify “any other potential victims’’ of similar acts.

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