The trial of Valerie Bacot, a French woman who claims to have murdered her husband in self defense, has begun in Chalon sur Saône, in the Burgundy region of central France.
The 40 year old Bacot faces life in prison for shooting Daniel Polette, 65, five years ago, in 2016. Bacot claims she acted in self defense, and that Polette had abused her for years leading up to the shooting.
In a best-selling book published this past May entitled “Tout Le Monde Savait” (Everyone Knew), Bacot details a history of severe abuse from Polette. Bacot says that Polette first met her when he was dating her mother and took on the role of a stepfather in her household.
Polette then raped Bacot when she was only 12 years old. He was convicted of rape in 1996 and served two and a half years in prison, but upon his release he returned to Bacot and the abuse intensified.
Bacot became pregnant with her first child from Polette when she was 17 years old. They had four more children together in the span of 18 years. Bacot describes scenes of her abuse in the book, writing:
“One morning in the dining room he starts screaming because I haven’t put the baby’s toys away properly. He turns to me and slaps me hard without warning.”
Valerie Bacot claims she was freeing herself from decades of abuse
Bacot said she endured daily beatings from Polette and that she was coerced into becoming a sex worker by him as well. Polette reportedly told Bacot that if she attempted to escape from his control he would kill her and their four children.
The investigation of their relationship that stemmed from Polette’s death, Bacot’s children said they witnessed the years of abuse their mother faced while living in fear of Polette. Court documents agreed with their testimony, stating that Bacot was “clearly under Polette’s control.”
“Don’t worry: one day you’ll be leaving here,” Bacot claims Polette told her, “But it will be feet first, and the kids too!” he added.
Polette’s death occurred when, after a night of forcing Bacot to prostitute herself, Bacot was raped by a client, leading to an argument between the two where Bacot reached for a gun Polette kept in the car, and shot him with it.
Two of Bacot and Polette’s children reportedly helped Bacot in disposing of Polette’s body after he was killed. Bacot’s lawyer Nathalie Tomasini said that each child who participated was given a 6 month suspended sentence for concealment of a human corpse.
The trial is set to last less than a week. Nearly 600,000 people have signed a petition aiming to prevent Bacot from being imprisoned.
“This is a woman who has been destroyed and devastated, not just by the lack of maternal love, the rapes, the blows, the denigration, the prostitution but also and above all by the indifference and the omerta of society,” said Bacot’s lawyers Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini.