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Journalist who started France’s #MeToo movement loses defamation case


Sandra Muller, the journalist who launched a campaign in France to expose abusive male behavior, has lost a defamation case against Éric Brion.

Brion is a former TV executive whom she accused of making disrespectful comments about her during an event in Cannes in 2012.

In October 2017 Muller created the hashtag #balancetonporc (“rat on your pig”), which is considered France’s version of the #metoo movement.

With the hashtag, she tweeted “You too can recount by giving the name and details of a sexual harassment you have known in your job" and later she wrote what she said was a comment she’d heard from Brion.

“You have big breasts. You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night,” she quoted him as saying.

While Brion never denied making the comments, he argued that they didn’t constitute sexual harassment. He also denied having worked with her, according to the BBC.

In January 2018, Muller said in a Facebook statement that Brion was suing her for defamation.

“I will go to the end of this fight with the help of my lawyer and I hope that this trial will be an opportunity to have a real debate on ways of fighting against sexual harassment,” she wrote.

But on Wednesday, a court in Paris found that the journalist, who’s currently based in New York, defamed Brion.

She was ordered to pay 15,000 euros (around $16,500) in damages plus 5,000 euros ($5,500) in legal fees. She’ll also have to remove Twitter posts mentioning the former television executive.

“She surpassed the acceptable limits of freedom of expression, as her comments descended into a personal attack,” the court said, according to The New York Times.

Brion celebrated his legal victory with a “certain degree of relief and reaffirms he has never harassed Sandra Muller,” as his lawyer, Nicolas Benoit, told AFP.

Muller said she’ll appeal. “I lost today, but the other women won,” she said following the verdict, the BBC reported.