French police descended on the Paris offices of one of the country's most premier publishing houses Wednesday looking for material that was reportedly kept in a safe. What the Guardian says they specifically wanted: unpublished manuscripts and other writings by Gabriel Matzneff, a celebrated French writer who on the same day made another set of legal headlines. He was charged with promoting the sexual abuse of children by the anti-pedophilia group L'Ange Bleu. The New York Times reports that Matzneff, 83, who has been "in hiding" in the Italian Riviera, has made no secret of his relations with minors—teen girls in France and underage boys in the Philippines. Indeed, the Times notes that his breakout piece of writing was 1974's Les Moins de Seize Ans (Under 16 Years Old).
But he enjoyed robust support throughout the years and has won prestigious prizes in France. Things took a turn with January's publication of Le Consentement (Consent) by Vanessa Springora. In it, the 47-year-old recounts beginning a 2-year sexual relationship with the then-50-year-old when she was 14; depression and other issues followed for her. The AP reports L'Ange Bleu's case concerns recent pieces in which Matzneff defends "the exceptional love" the two of them "lived together." The trial has been slated for September 2021; Matzneff faces up to 5 years if convicted. The AFP notes that in a January interview he expressed "regret" for his sex trips to Asia but added "no one ever said it was a crime" at the time. The office raid was in connection with a preliminary police investigation unrelated to the L'Ange Bleu case; police on Tuesday urged any witnesses or victims to come forward. (Read more France stories.)