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French woman is tried for the murder of her stepfather who raped her several times

Valérie Bacot arrives at court flanked by her family and surrounded by journalists – JEFF PACHOUD / AFP via Getty Images

A French woman was tried on Monday for killing the man who raped her for years when she was her stepfather before becoming her husband and pimp.

Valérie Bacot’s story moved activists against domestic violence, with hundreds of thousands of people signing a petition for her release.

“I had to put an end to it,” wrote Ms Bacot, 40, in a book published last month titled “Everyone Knew”, adding: “I was scared, all the time.”

The trial, which opened in Chalon-sur-Saône, in central Burgundy, is due to take place until Friday.

Ms Bacot was 12 when her mother’s partner, Daniel Polette, who was 25 years her senior, first raped her.

He was sent to jail, but after his release he returned and resumed serial rape.

“He told my mom he wouldn’t do it again. But he did, ”she told the court.

At 17, Ms Bacot became pregnant, was kicked out of the house by her alcoholic mother, and went to live with Polette.

“I wanted to keep my child. I had no one. Where can I go? », She declared in court.

French woman is tried for the murder of her stepfather who raped her several times

Valrie Bactot – JEFF PACHOUD / AFP via Getty Images

Polette, also a heavy drinker, grew increasingly violent, attacking her with a hammer at one point.

“At first he slapped me, later it became kicking, then punching, then choking,” she said, describing her life as “extreme hell”.

Polette ordered her to prostitute herself for truck drivers, in the back of a Peugeot minivan, and gave her instructions via an earpiece that he forced her to wear to make sure she complied with customer requests he billed between € 20 and £ 50 (£ 17-43).

Investigators established that Polette threatened to kill her if she refused, repeatedly pointing a gun at her.

When Polette began questioning their 14-year-old daughter, Karline, about her sexuality, Ms Bacot said she decided “it had to stop”.

In March 2016, after Polette ordered his wife to undergo further sexual humiliation by a client, she used the gun he kept in the car to kill him with a single bullet in the back of his neck while he was in place of the driver.

Ms Bacot said she wanted to make sure her daughter did not suffer the same fate as her. “I wanted to save her,” she said.

The circumstances of the shooting exclude any hypothesis of self-defense.

Her lawyers said ahead of the trial that “the extreme violence she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next” prompted her to kill Polette.

As of Monday afternoon, around 588,000 people had signed a petition demanding that Ms. Bacot, who faces life imprisonment for murder, be exonerated.

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