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AP finds angle into #MeToo scandal of French TV star

CORRECTS TO REMOVE ID OF UNSEEN JOURNALIST. FILE - French President Jacques Chirac, left poses next to French journalist and TV personality Patrick Poivre d'Arvor finishes an interview at the Élysée Palace in Paris, July 14, 2005. Author Helene Devynck is among dozens of women who have spoken out recently to accuse Poivre d'Arvor, France's most famous TV presenter, of rape, sexual abuse or harassment over almost four decades. (AP Photo / Patrick Kovarik, File)

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Paris reporters Sylvie Corbet and Jade Le Deley, and video journalist Nicolas Garriga, used determination and ingenuity to make AP the first international news organization reporting on alleged sexual misconduct by France’s most famous TV anchor.

The anchor, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, has previously sued the women accusing him of rape, sexual abuse or harassment occurring from 1981 to 2018. He has also sued media reporting on the alleged misconduct, but Corbet kept looking for a way to cover the story responsibly and to AP standards.

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Author Hélène Devynck is interviewed by the AP in Paris, Oct. 17, 2022. Devynck is among dozens of women who have spoken out recently to accuse France’s most famous TV presenter, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, of rape, sexual abuse or harassment occurring from 1981 to 2018. – AP Photo / Aurelien Morissard

The break came when one of Poivre d’Arvor’s accusers wrote a book investigating multiple allegations; Corbet and Le Deley pushed to interview author Hélène Devynck and others. They also pressed the star’s tight-lipped but aggressive lawyers to speak, and Garriga found a way to report the story for a newsroom-ready customer video despite having no access to the star himself. Completing the all-formats piece, stringer Aurelien Morrisard delivered striking photos from the on-camera interview with Devynck.

No prominent French person has lost their job or reputation over accusations of sexual misconduct despite five years of #MeToo revelations. The story of the Poivre d’Arvor scandal — published by AP after consultations with attorneys — played widely in the U.S. and Europe, and could mark a turning point in the French #MeToo era. Even AP competitors, who have stayed away from the story and the litigious star, later asked the AP for contacts to cover what’s become known as the “affaire PPDA.”

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