Sandra Muller, a New York-based French journalist who started the #MeToo movement in the European country, is facing defamation charges from a man she accused of making sexually explicit remarks to her, France24 reported on Thursday. She had levelled the accusations against French television executive Eric Brion on October 13, 2017, tweeting with a hashtag #BalanceTonPorc (squeal on your pig).
“You have big breasts,”Muller had quoted Brion as saying. “You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night.” She then urged other women to share any sexual harassment they had experienced at their workplace and to name their harassers.
Brion, who, in an opinion-editorial for France’s Le Monde newspaper two months later, admitted to making “inappropriate remarks” to Muller, backtracked and moved court against her. “I fancied her,” he said in the article, according to AFP. “I told her so, in a heavy handed manner,”
The television executive has asked Muller pay €50,000 (approximately Rs 38 lakh) in damages, €15,000 (approximately Rs 11 lakh) in legal fees, and removal of the tweet.
Muller’s lawyer Francis Spinzer criticised the demands. “This is someone who acknowledged initially unacceptable conduct, who said sorry, and then suddenly decided to go to court,” Spinzer told AFP.
The journalist’s tweet led to other women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment, using her hashtag.
In his editorial, Brion claimed that he had found it “nearly impossible” to find work because of her accusations. “It is denunciation,” his lawyer Nicolas Benoit told AFP. “At no time did he have the chance to defend himself.” Muller has said she will see the “fight through to the end”.