In a heavy electoral campaign that takes place against a background of sexual assault, the French Equestrian Federation (FFE) attacked Amélie Quéguiner, alleged victim, for defamation. The hearing at the Périgueux Criminal Court is scheduled for April 28.
“There is a fierce desire to silence me, and through me, to silence dozens of victims. According to them, these cases are settled in silence,” reacts Amélie Quéguiner for RMC Sport. At the end of March, when a bailiff came to give her his summons to appear before the court of Périgueux, the former professional rider tells us that she lived 48 rather dark hours: “I wondered why I had done that, but I did. do to help other victims “. The former rider, who had claimed in the press to have been a victim during her adolescence of rape and sexual assault committed by two coaches and a regional technical advisor, is the subject of a defamation complaint. At the origin of it: Serge Lecomte, the outgoing president of the French Equestrian Federation (FFE).
In question, an interview with Obs, in which she mentions in particular the Caudal case. Loïc Caudal, former employee of Serge Lecomte, first convicted of sexual assault on a minor in 2014, had received a second conviction in 2017 for sexual assault on three minors, before being hired as a driver of advertising vehicles by the FFE . “A person capable of protecting a pedophile and of keeping him in office knowing that he risks putting him in a situation of recidivism has nothing to do at the head of a sports federation, nothing to do anywhere else” , had denounced Amélie Quéguiner in the columns of the magazine.
A complaint in the middle of an election campaign
The tension is at its height as the federal election is in full swing, amid cases of sexual violence. The subject was invited several times in the campaign. Amélie Quéguiner had sent an open letter in early February to Serge Lecomte and the two other candidates for the presidency of the FFE, calling on the outgoing president and asking for effective action against child crime in tricolor riding.
For the lawyer of the one who is now a horse breeder in the Dordogne, the timing of this legal action is not trivial. “The interview appeared during the campaign, and the appearance before the criminal court takes place the day after the election. Mr. Lecomte wants to protect and defend himself in view of this deadline”, points Me Corinne Raynal-Violante. His client is also astonished: “He brings up these cases of sexual violence during the campaign and accuses the opposing parties of using it, when this is not the case at all”.
The president considers himself targeted “for political reasons”
On the contrary, the president of the FFE considers that Amélie Quéguiner is fueling a campaign of destabilization against her in this electoral context. “We can not throw the reproach like that, without proof. She picks up everything she sees in the press, amplifies and rejects everything in my face, explains Serge Lecomte to RMC Sport. We have warned Mrs Quéguiner several times not to peddle false information. But when you are targeted regularly for purely political reasons, you end up reacting “.
The boss of the French horsemanship repeats to have had knowledge only after the fact of the first conviction of the former employee of his equestrian center of Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine): “We can not make all this fuss and crush people for facts that have been tried, deplores Serge Lecomte. And we must specify what sentence we are talking about. For sexual assault on a minor over 15 years, fifteen days in prison.
The federation claims to be “exemplary”
The defamation complaint which targets Amélie Quéguiner has in any case surprised the association Colosse aux pieds d’Argile, which fights against sexual violence in sport. She has been accompanying Amélie Quéguiner since coming out of silence and has also recently signed an agreement with the FFE. “We are in no way united with this legal action, and as such we have requested explanations from the federation, reacts Sébastien Boueilh, president of the association, in a press release. Depending on the elements provided, we reserve ourselves the right to denounce the convention that binds us “.
“We are exemplary in the treatment of sexual cases, defends Serge Lecomte. We have at the federation a lawyer specializing in the issue, about twenty files have been sent to the ministry since early 2020”. For her part, Amélie Quéguiner denounces a denial of the federation. She is due to appear on Wednesday April 28 before the correctional chamber of the Périgueux court.