The four college students from Golbey (Vosges) prosecuted for the suicide of Lucas, in January, were found guilty of harassment, but the children's court of Epinal did not retain a causal link between these facts and the suicide of the 13-year-old boy, Monday, June 5.
Provisional educational measures have been pronounced against the four college students pending the next hearing, which will decide on their sanctions, set for January 22, 2024. They face up to eighteen months in prison, a maximum sentence which would have been much more severe if the court had found them guilty of school bullying leading to suicide: the penalty would then have been five years in prison.
At the hearing, which was held behind closed doors on April 3, the prosecution did not request recognition of the harassment as the cause of the suicide, thus contradicting its own conclusions made at the end of the investigation.
The juvenile court went in the same direction by reclassifying the facts of school harassment resulting in a (total incapacity for work) ITT of less than eight days, against the two girls and two boys prosecuted.
"No mere teasing
Despite this requalification, Séverine, Lucas's mother, expressed her "relief": "The verdict that has been rendered is good, because harassment is serious. Everyone needs to be aware of this, ”said the young woman after the decision was delivered. "I was waiting for my son to be recognized as a victim of school bullying, that's all I owed him, that's my fight now. I will fight until the end, to make it stop. We are going to take action so that the harassers question themselves, so that the victims say to themselves that they do not have to suffer this, ”she continued.
"Lucas' situation was heard at its fair value on the legal level: the harassment of which he was the victim was considered as simple school harassment, it seems to me a fair decision", agreed his lawyer, Me Catherine Faivre. “Simple teasing is not simple teasing, the moment it is repeated, the moment it undermines an identity, sexual or otherwise. »
One of the lawyers for the teenagers prosecuted, Me Emmanuelle Larrière, was more nuanced: "This is not the decision we expected since it was a request for release that had been pleaded. Obviously we will take stock with the parents, the question will arise of a possible appeal, "she said.
Lucas, 13, committed suicide on January 7, after writing a note expressing his desire to end his life. "The findings and the autopsy carried out by the forensic institute of Nancy made it possible to establish the thesis of suicide by hanging," said prosecutor Frédéric Nahon.
"Emotion, grief, pain"
The teenager's relatives had denounced acts of harassment, revealing the mockery and homophobic insults of which he had said he was a victim from other students at his college. This suicide had aroused strong emotion. In Epinal at the beginning of February, several hundred people took part in a white march in memory of the young boy.
"When a child ends his life, there are no words to express the emotion, the grief, the pain," National Education Minister Pap Ndiaye told the Senate, visibly moved. “This tragedy shows how the fight against school bullying must remain a priority for the government. »
In a similar case, four other minors were indicted at the end of May for "school harassment leading to suicide" after the suicide of a 13-year-old girl, Lindsay, on May 12 in Vendin-le-Vieil ( Pas de Calais).