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Woman sentenced to life for killing her stepfather who became an incestuous husband

Courtesy of Clémence de Blasi

ROME – Few would say how Valérie Bacot rationalized the actuation of the trigger that sent a fatal bullet in the back of the neck of her stepfather-turned-husband Daniel Polette on March 13, 2016. She had previously tried unsuccessfully to poison him with a sleeping pill, and she said she knew he was preparing their 14-year-old daughter for serial rape. She was tired of years of abuse and being prostituted to strangers in the family minivan, so she did what she thought she had to do.

“I took the gun,” she said in a touching interview with The Parisian ahead of his murder trial on June 21 which could send him to life in prison. “There was a loud noise, the flash, the smell. I got out of the car, opened the door, he fell. I only thought about saving myself because I was sure he was going to kill me.

Bacot then told her eldest children – who she said were born from rape – that she had killed the monster they called their father. They admitted to helping to bury her body in a forest. All the while, she put dirt on the hastily dug grave – she said she feared he would come back to life. “The only thing I thought about was getting dirt on it,” she said. “Because I was afraid he would go out and kill us.”

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The 40-year-old woman and two of her children were arrested in October 2017 when Polette’s body was found after the mother of her son’s girlfriend, who had been involved in the hasty burial, denounced her . Since then, more than 400,000 people have signed a petition asking Emmanuel Macron for a presidential pardon that could save Bacot, although opponents say presidents have no place in court. Interest in her case has galvanized those fighting domestic violence, not only in France, but across Europe where, on average, a woman is killed every three days by an angry partner. A pre-trial TV interview in France drew 4.5 million viewers and his gruesome memory Everyone knew or Everyone knew is a national bestseller in France.

Bacot’s lawyers told The Daily Beast they were “withdrawing from the media” in the weeks leading up to the trial to focus on his defense, saying: “We will not be giving interviews or making statements during weeks to come “.

The case brings us back to Jacqueline Sauvage, another Frenchwoman who shot her husband after years of abuse against her and her children. Sauvage obtained a presidential pardon after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder. Bacot’s supporters believe his case deserves the same consideration, although in both cases the women have been shunned by a system that has failed to protect them from years of documented abuse. In Bacot’s case, his children went to the police more than once to try to help their mother, but the police turned them away because they were minors.

“Even though she committed murder by killing her torturer, and given the 25 years of suffering she suffered and endured in general indifference, it is her freedom that we ask for,” a spokesperson said. from the support group sponsoring the petition.

Polette, a truck driver, married Bacot’s mother in 1992 and began grooming her immediately, insisting that he apply body lotion to her prepubescent body and watching her bathe, according to his memoir. She says he then started raping her when she was 12, after her first period. Bacot reported the rape to authorities through a teacher at his school, and Polette was sentenced to four years in prison for raping her stepdaughter. During this time, her mother made her visit the man who raped her in prison. When he got out he went back to live with Bacot’s mother and the abuse started again. “Every night after school he would tell me ‘you come up’, she said in the interview.” I knew what that meant. “

When she became pregnant at 17 with the first of four children he was to father with her stepdaughter, her mother sent her to live with the ogre. “My mom helped me pack my boxes,” she said. “At first I thought my mom didn’t know it, but over time I realized she did, but I never did anything.”

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Several years after the relationship began, they married. Then things got worse. Bacot says Polette always physically abused her and tortured her emotionally, but then he began threatening to kill her and the children with a gun, sometimes pulling the trigger as he pointed at what she was. didn’t know he was an unloaded pistol on his head. “You’re lucky, it’s not today,” he said. “There is nothing in it, but next time I won’t miss it.”

Then, when the money ran out, Bacot says Polette started pulling her out of the Peugeot family minivan, talking to her through an earpiece and threatening her all the time not to ask the men who were paying for help. sex.

Even that, she said, she could have tolerated. But shortly before killing him, she said he asked their 14-year-old daughter how she was sexually. She knew exactly what was going to happen next. At that point, she knew she had to stop him.

Bacot knows she could spend the rest of her life in prison, but says it’s better than the rest of her life with him. “I deserve to go to jail, a very long time, that’s normal. But this trial is not only mine but that of “the other”, she said. The Parisian, referring to Polette. “I hope I can be stronger than him and for once in my life win against him.”

Bacot’s story mirrors that of countless women trapped in violent relationships, having been prepared to believe that they cannot leave. “I have lived my whole life believing that I deserved it,” Bacot writes in his book. “That it was because of me.

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