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He Was Her Stepdad, Then Her Husband. Now, a Murder Trial

More than 600K call for release of Valerie Bacot, who says Daniel Polette abused her for 24 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2021 12:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – The trial of a Frenchwoman who allegedly shot her husband to death started Monday, and the suspect herself says she deserves to be punished. But Valerie Bacot's story has infuriated activists on domestic violence who say she should be given her freedom, as her husband was also her stepfather, accused of raping her when she was a child and keeping her in an abusive relationship with him for nearly a quarter century. The 40-year-old Bacot, seen here entering the courthouse in Chalon-sur-Saone in Burgundy on Monday, detailed to the court how she killed Daniel "Dany" Polette after years of abuse, starting with him raping her when she was 12 years old. The sexual assaults continued, and Bacot became pregnant at age 17, which she says led her alcoholic mother to throw her out of the family home; she then went to live with Polette, who she says eventually forced her to marry him. "I had nobody. Where could I go?" she told the court, per France 24.

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Bacot went on to have four children with Polette, who she says was violent with her throughout their relationship, with almost daily beatings, per the Guardian. Bacot also says she was banned from speaking with anyone in public, and that Polette arranged to have family and friends spy on her. She says Polette began pimping her out to truck drivers, making her have sex with them on a mattress in the back of his car. She says that all ended on March 13, 2016, after a violent client encounter in which she took a pistol that Polette had hidden in the car for just those situations and turned it on her husband instead. Bacot, who was arrested in October 2017, says she feared for her children's lives as well as her own. More than 600,000 people have signed a petition calling for her release, per the BBC. Everyone Knew, a book about her experience, was published in May. (Read more France stories.)

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