Gabriel Matzneff, the French writer who for decades made no secret about being a pedophile, has been charged with promoting the sexual abuse of children.
Matzneff has written openly about pursuing teenage girls in France and sexual encounters with boys as young as 8 in the Philippines. In fact, his breakthrough book, published in 1974, was titled Les Moins de Seize Ans (Under 16 Years Old). Despite his work, and because of it, he’s collected praise and accolades from the French literary world, even winning one of the country’s most prestigious writing awards in 2013.
But everything changed last month when one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, published a memoir called Le Consentement (Consent), catalyzing Matzneff’s rapid downfall: According to the New York Times, Matzneff was “dropped by his three publishers, stripped of a rare benefit from the French government and abandoned by longtime supporters.”
Matzneff’s trial date has been set for September of next year, though prosecutors will also investigate members of the French elite who helped foster Matzneff’s career and even protected him from legal repercussions. From the Times:
On Wednesday, Christophe Girard, the deputy for culture to the mayor of Paris, released a statement on his Twitter account acknowledging that he had arranged the payment by the Yves Saint Laurent design house of Mr. Matzneff’s hotel bills in the mid-1980s, as reported by The New York Times. Mr. Girard said he had followed the instructions of Pierre Bergé, the business tycoon and partner of Mr. Saint Laurent.
Mr. Girard also wrote that it was “possible’’ that when he occupied the same position in Paris in 2002, he had written a letter of support that won Mr. Matzneff a seldom-awarded lifetime annual stipend from the National Book Center.
In Le Consentement, Springora, now 47, writes that she met Matzneff when she was 13, and he was nearly 50. He began sexually abusing her when she was 14 and continued to do so for two years, according to both her account and his own diary.
In an interview with the Italian news channel BFMTV last month, the 83-year-old writer insisted no one ever told him that his behavior was wrong:
“At the time, people talked of inciting a minor to debauchery, or indecent assault...But nobody ever spoke of crime,” he said.