Sons tell Valerie Bacot's murder trial that police refused to help
French woman who killed her rapist husband to stop him prostituting their daughter ‘did it to protect us’ says the girl she saved as sons tell trial police ignored their pleas for help and left her no choice
- Valerie Bacot is on trial for murder of stepfather-turned-husband Daniel Polette who subjected her to 25 years of abuse including rape and forced prostitution
- Today, her three eldest children took the stand and defended her over the killing
- Romain, 21, claimed he went to police twice in the month leading up to the murder but was brushed off by officers both times
- Meanwhile daughter Camille said Bacot killed Polette ‘to protect us’ after he threatened to prostitute her alongside her mother
- Bacot faces life in jail if convicted. Her lawyers want the sentence cut to 10 years
The children of a French woman on trial for the murder of her stepfather-turned-husband have told a court that she had no choice but to kill him after suffering years of horrific abuse and that she ‘did it to protect us’.
Vincent and Romain Bacot, 22 and 21, said they went to police twice in the month before mother Valerie killed their father Daniel Polette in March 2016 but were brushed off both times by officers who told them ‘there is nothing we can do.’
The pair were questioned today alongside sister Camille, 19, who recalled the moment her mother told her about the murder – saying she replied: ‘Mum, it’s OK. We’re going to be okay with it. I know you didn’t do this for fun but to protect us.’
‘Our old life was a very complicated life, filled with screams. We were terrified,’ she added.
They spoke a day after Bacot gave her own testimony, recalling how she suffered 25 years of abuse at Polette’s hands that began with rape at age 12 and ended with him prostituting her out to truck drivers.
Bacot, now aged 40, is facing life in jail if convicted of Polette’s murder. Her lawyers do not dispute the killing, but argue her sentence should be reduced to 10 years.
The case has attracted nationwide attention in France where Bacot has recently published a book about her ordeal – called Everybody Knew – with 500,000 people signing a petition for charges to be dropped.
Valerie Bacot (pictured in court today) is on trial for the 2016 murder of Daniel Polette in France after what she says was 25 years of abuse suffered at his hands
On March 13, 2016, Bacot shot Polette (pictured) – then aged 61 – in the back of the neck with his gun after, she claims, he threatened to prostitute their 14-year-old daughter
Testifying today, Romain said he first spoke with officers in the commune of Paray-le-Monial in February 2016 alongside Lucas Granet – Camille’s boyfriend – who told him that ‘it isn’t our department’.
He claimed the pair then went to speak with cops in nearby La Clayette, who said Bacot would have to come in to file a complaint herself.
Pressed by investigating magistrate Eric Jallet whether Ms Bacot could not have divorced Polette instead of killing him, Romain shot back: ‘And go where? We were trapped. He was going to find us.’
Asked what would have happened if Valerie had not killed Polette, Vincent added: ‘Our mother would have died of the violence that we suffered.’
When it came time for Lucas to take the stand, he became visibly annoyed with Jallet during questioning, according to French news site Orange.
Jallet said the trio’s account was ‘hard to believe’ because police had no records of the family ever speaking with them, at which point he insisted ‘we were really at these two damn police stations.’
‘They [police] told us to go and fart,’ he added – using a French expression which means something similar to ‘screw off’ in English.
‘She’s not guilty,’ Kevin added. ‘We didn’t have anyone’s help. We were locked up, we didn’t know how to get by.’
Karline, now aged 19, was also in the witness box on Tuesday where she recalled her mother telling her about Polette’s death.
Karline, who is now a nursery assistant, said: ‘I said to my mother ‘Mum, it’s okay, we’re going to be okay with it. I know you didn’t do this for fun but to protect us’.’
Describing her ordeal further, Karline said: ‘Our old life was a very complicated life, filled with screams. We were terrified.’
Karline said it was on March 12 2016 – the day before the shooting – that her father asked Bacot: ‘How is she sexually?’.
This was a clear reference to Karline – then aged 14 – being prostituted alongside her mother, which Bacot said led her to kill Polette.
Vincent, Camille’s 22-year-old brother, who is now a father himself, added that he hoped his mother’s case would lead to ‘more recognition for battered women and that people who attack women are punished.
‘I hope my mother comes out of prison and sees my daughter grow up.’
Bacot, now aged 40, says Polette began abusing her aged 12 when he was her stepfather – but later forced her into marriage and had four children with her
Bacot had testified before the same court Monday, also insisting she had no choice but to kill Polette.
‘I wanted to save me, and my children,’ Bacot said.
Recalling how she fired at point-blank-range from behind as she sat behind Polette in the People Carrier, Bacot said: ‘I just remember closing my eyes. I didn’t really understand. I got out of the car and he fell out.’
When asked, if she had planned to killed her husband she replied: ‘No’.
Asked by Jallet whether she could not have divorced Polette instead of killing him, she responded: ‘You do not understand anything.’
In her book, Bacot says she was abused from a young age – first by her older brother when she was aged five and then by Polette, who was initially her mother’s partner.
Speaking to Le Parisien ahead of the trial, Bacot said the abuse began ‘very quickly’ after mother Joelle brought truck-driver Polette home when she was aged 12.
He initially played the doting stepfather but then began sexually abusing her – abuse which lasted for two years before she alerted police and Polette was arrested.
When Bacot was aged 14 he was jailed for four years for sexual abuse, but Bacot said her mother never cut off contact and would even take her to visit him in jail.
After two and a half years, Polette was released and immediately returned to the family home where the abuse resumed.
Bacot said she often thought about running away, but had nowhere to go – her grandparents would simply return her home, she believed, and her biological father wanted nothing to do with her. So she stayed.
Then, at the age of 17, Bacot fell pregnant with Polette’s child and the family quickly fell apart.
Bacot says her mother kicked her out of the house, forcing her to go and live with Polette because she did not know where else to go.
She said Polette began physically and mentally abusing her shortly after their first child – a boy – was born.
‘The first time it was because he thought I hadn’t put the baby’s toys away properly,’ she said. ‘But very quickly it became commonplace.
‘If the coffee took too long to arrive, if it was too hot or too cold, he would get angry.
‘Everything became a pretext for blows. You live with the idea that you deserve it because you are not doing things right.’
She said Polette controlled every aspect of her behaviour, forbidding her to go out except to shop or take the children to school, and would check her receipts when she got home to make sure she wasn’t lying.
When he was unable to keep an eye on her, he would get others in the village where they lived to do it for him, she claims.
He chose her hairstyle, her clothes, and the names for their children – which eventually totalled four.
Bacot says she wanted to take contraceptive pills or get abortions so she would stop falling pregnant, but was forbidden from going to the doctor.
The pair married in 2008, but that did little to end the abuse, Bacot says.
Polette began using weapons in his assaults – at one point knocking her out with a hammer over the Christmas holidays, and routinely threatened her with a gun.
He also began prostituting her out to other truck drivers.
Operating out of the back of a Peugeot people-carrier under the name of Adeline, Bacot says Polette watched the acts and dictated her movements via an earpiece.
But, so as to leave clients in no doubt about who she ‘belonged’ to, he had his initials tattooed near her genitals.
‘He wanted to mark his territory, show others that I belonged to him,’ she added.
Bacot says her children contacted police twice on her behalf but were brushed off, with officers telling them that their mother needed to come to the station herself.
Things came to a head in 2016 as Polette routinely questioned Bacot’s 14-year-old daughter about her sexuality – leading her to fear that he would start prostituting the teenager out as well.
Then, on March 13, came a visit from a violent client. Bacot said she refused to carry out a certain sex act for him, so he forced her into it – leaving her bleeding.
Afterwards, she claims Polette criticised her, telling her the man would refuse to come back and that she would have to make up for it.
Journalists wait outside the courtroom in Chalon-sur-Saone, France, where Bacot is standing trial for Polette’s murder
Having tried to drug Polette using sleeping pills crushed into his coffee, Bacot then went for a revolver that she knew her husband kept between the seats in the back of the car.
While he was sitting in the front seat, she drew the handgun and fired it once through the back of his neck, killing him instantly.
Bacot then buried the body in a forest with the help of her two eldest sons and her daughter’s boyfriend, who she says offered to help so police wouldn’t take her away.
But in 2017, cops were alerted to the killing after the boyfriend confessed to his own mother – prompting her to call gendarmes.
They arrested Bacot who subsequently confessed to the killing, but was released on bail one year later pending trial.
Bacot’s sons and the daughter’s boyfriend were subsequently jailed for six months each for concealment of a corpse for the part they played in the cover-up.
Bacot now faces life in jail for murder. Her lawyers want the sentence reduced to 10 years in jail due to the abuse she suffered.
She made no comment as she arrived at the courthouse Monday, appearing intimidated by the crowd of reporters awaiting her.
Her lawyers said ahead of the trial that ‘the extreme violence that she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next’ pushed her to kill Polette.
The same lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini, had already defended Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her abusive husband but won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol for the fight against violence directed at women.
‘These women who are victims of violence have no protection. The judiciary is still too slow, not reactive enough and too lenient towards the perpetrators who can continue to exercise their violent power,’ Bonaggiunta told AFP.
‘This is precisely what can push a desperate woman to kill in order to survive,’ she said.
Bacot was ‘certain that she needed to commit this act to protect her children’, a court evaluation found.
More than 500,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Bacot, who risks life in prison for murder, be cleared of the charge.
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