March 24, 2023

Professor who calls himself a ‘happiness historian’ says accusation that he assaulted woman in 2011 is unfounded
A popular French television historian has been put under investigation after being accused of rape.
François Durpaire, 51, a specialist on the US, is reported to have had a brief relationship with the woman in 2011. The alleged victim told police she had visited his Paris apartment in May that year after they had split to talk about why the affair had ended, when she said Durpaire assaulted her.
He has described the allegations as “unfounded”.
The woman is said to have contacted Durpaire again in 2020 to discuss the alleged attack before she decided to go to the police.
Durpaire’s lawyer, Dorothée Bisaccia-Bernstein, told Le Parisien: “He has been hearing about these accusations for several months and this opening of the official investigation has reassured him as it allows him to know what he is accused of. This will allow the truth to come out. Mr Durpaire will give his explanation during questioning [by an investigating judge] that will take place in a few weeks.”
Durpaire, a professor at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, north-west of Paris, describes himself on his website as a “happiness historian”.
He founded a “happiness laboratory”, the first in Europe, to examine whether humans were more content today than in the past. Its aim was to examine a “simple question … can we learn to be happy?”
Bisaccia-Bernstein added that her client had been released by the judge on “fairly light” conditions while the accusation was investigated. “It is normal and legitimate that women’s voices are heard, but it is also legitimate that an inquiry is opened to allow the truth to be shown,” she told AFP.
In the last two years, a number of women have come forward to make allegations of sexual abuse by household names in France.
In May, 20 women came forward to accuse the former prime-time television presenter Patrick Poivre d’Arvor of rape, sexual abuse or harassment. Sixteen of them have reported the alleged attacks to the police. Some of the accusations were dropped as being outside the time limit for prosecutions under French law, but in an unusual move at the end of June, the appeal court decided to overturn this allowing for a preliminary investigation into the accusations.
Poivre d’Arvor vehemently contests the allegations and is taking legal action for defamation against 16 of the women who have come forward.
The political scientist and renowned constitutional expert Olivier Duhamel resigned from his academic and media roles in 2021 after he was accused by his stepdaughter Camille Kouchner, the daughter of a former government minister, of having raped and sexually assaulted her twin brother. She recounted the assaults in a book, La Familia Grande.


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