A Paris court slapped a 20,000 euro fine on a journalist Wednesday who had previously launched the French version of the #MeToo movement for defaming the man she accused of harassment.
The court proceedings centered around former TV channel executive Eric Brion being accused by Sandra Muller, who kickstarted the movement #balancetonporc in 2017, which literally translates as “squeal on your pig”, of making sexually explicit comments to her.
After she made the allegations on Twitter, Brio, former head of television channel Equidia, took the matter to court, arguing the allegations harmed him and stressing that his remarks to Muller do not constitute harassment.
Muller, who pressed with her campaign at the height of the MeToo movement in the US and was even named by TIME magazine as one of #MeToo “silence breakers”, views the court’s decision compelling her to pay Brion 15,000 euros in damages and an additional 5,000 euros in legal fees as a means to silence the victims that may potentially come forward.
'It's a proceeding that's intended to silence the victims. The message is clear: "Be quiet."'
While the defendant applauded the ruling on Twitter as a “victory of true justice” following “two years of rare violence,” Muller struck back, expressing determination to appeal and inviting others to use her movement’s hashtag to share their stories of sexism and harassment across the country.
Muller’s lawyer, Francis Szpiner, weighed in on the verdict debate, arguing the ruling may have a negative effect on the determination of what France considers to be sexual harassment, while there is no distinct line in the country between flirting and abuse.
He told reporters the court’s decision okays men doing ort saying offensive things, and “if they only do it one time, it will be excused by the court, “Szpiner rounded off.