Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

France: Trial Begins for Mother in Son’s Jail Rape by Stepfather

The jail in Toul, France

The jail in Toul, France

It’s pretty clear that parents can do some really callous, cruel and evil things to their children, and that the young age of a child will not always save them from the ones whose role it is to protect and raise them. This story, however, takes the cake. Not only in forcing us to ask how a mother cold do such a thing, but also how in the world could it have happened during a supervised jail visit?

The trial begins today of French mother, Sabrina Bonner, 25, who is accused of taking her son, 4, to visit her live-in boyfriend,  Lionel Barthelemy, 31, to the Toul detention center in eastern France in February 2010, where Barthelemy was incarcerated, and letting Barthelemy rape the child repeatedly.

Barthelemy, who reportedly has been diagnosed with schizophrenic tendencies, was serving a sentence for domestic abuse when Bonner brought the child to the allegedly supervised visit. According to prosecutors it is standard operating procedure during such visits to allow prisoners and their visitors to cover the window to the visitation room with black plastic garbage bags for privacy. The guards do not interfere.

According to the child’s attorney, Yannick Pheulpin, Bonner brought the child to Barthelemy, covered the windows with plastic, blindfolded the boy, made him kneel and held him while Barthelemy raped him. She and they boy left, but she came back for a second round in the afternoon knowing full well what would happen to her son when they got there. Pheulpin plans on taking legal action against the jail as well.

Barthelemy has reportedly confessed to the rape, but says it was instigated by Bonner and was an isolated incident. Bonner confessed to carrying out this and other rapes of her son and filming them under threat of violence by Barthelemy. She said she would bring Barthelemy her phone’s memory card so he could watch the rape videos. It is unclear if she filmed the jail rape, and it is unclear who raped the child for her while Barthelemy was incarcerated.

Bonner gave herself up to police in May 2011, just before Barthelemy was scheduled to be released. Bonner’s attorney, Dominique Bergmann, told the media that at the trial Bonner will not try to diminish her role in the sexual assaults.

Bonner and Barthelemy are charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and each face 20 years if convicted.

The child is now eight and is in the care of social services.

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