French prosecutors say a retired surgeon jailed since May 2017 for sexually abusing four girls may have had more than 250 victims. Joël Le Scouarnec has now had a series of new cases opened against him by a court in Brittany, in what may be the most serious case of child sex abuse in France.
According to the state prosecutor in the city of La Rochelle, of those identified, 209 have been interviewed. Many amongst them were able to give precise accounts of the abuse; 184 have expressed their intention to press charges, 181 of whom say they were minors when they were allegedly assaulted by Dr Le Scouarnec.
The initial investigation into the surgeon dealt with sexual abuses committed against four girls between 1989 and 2017. He was subsequently charged with the "rape of persons under the age of 15 by an individual in authority, sexual aggression and exhibitionism". He is awaiting sentencing in early 2020.
Since the case was closed in March of this year, Le Scouarnec has been the subject of a subsequent investigation that gathered pace over the past few months following the discovery of the surgeon's secret diaries.
Children's names documented in diary
According to prosecutors, of some 159 criminal or unlawful acts believed to have taken place between April 1991 and Januray 2014, 100 took place in the Morbihan department and 23 in Finstère department, both in Brittany.
As a result, the court proceedings are to be transferred from La Rochelle to the Breton port city of Lorient.
The names of the allegedly abused girls and boys were included in the private diaries of the former surgeon, where he described sexual "encounters". The doctor's defence claim the scenes he desribed were only "fantasies".
The diaries were found during a search of Le Scouarnec's home after investigations were launched into abuse allegations and his subsequent imprisonment for the rape of a neighbour's daughter in the town of Jonzac, (Charente-Maritime) where he worked from 2014 to 2017, as well as a member of his own family, along with sexual attacks on young patients.
During the search, child pornography images, mannequin wigs and dolls were also found hidden under floorboards.