Final News about the condamnation of Elm Europe organizer [TW]

Hello everyone!

I saw that you had shared information in 2021 about the 5-year prison sentence handed down to Thibaut Assus, the organizer of ELM europe, at the Paris Assizes.

It was stated that he had appealed his conviction.
I thought it was important to keep the community informed of the outcome: he was convicted a second time, and his sentence was increased.
He was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment at second instance for rape and sexual assault, with aggravating circumstances of abuse of the authority conferred by his position.

It seems from the Paris RB press release that there have been other victims of sexual violence at his hands. So perhaps it’s important, given the place he also had in the ELM community, to say that he’s now in prison, and that if there are other victims, they’re safe.

I add the informations I’ve been able to find:
he was found guilty by the Melun Assize Court in October. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, with no suspended sentence. He is currently in prison. He committed the acts on a woman who is part of the paris rb community. Paris rb is a french community dedicated to the ruby on rails framework, it’s the biggest in europe and he was its creator and organizer.
He had been indicted for rape and sexual assault before 2018 but continued to take part in the paris rb and ELM community until his second condamnation (it’s crazy).
There was at least one other victim in 2018, which means after his indictment for rape and sexual assault


For a bit of background, I’m not a developer but a friend of mine was in contact with him and she had a very bad feeling due to 2-3 warnings that made her uncomfortable. She learned of his conviction and we did some research. We realized how important he could be in several communities, so we thought that there are potentially many other victims who are unfortunately unaware of his conviction, and for whom this could be a relief.
I don’t know if there are other people to warn, other communities where he’s active, have things already been done in this direction?
We’re under the impression that our message is getting lost in the shuffle, even though we think it’s important.
To our knowledge, there has been no real communication from the ELM community, unlike the Paris RB community, which seems to have taken matters into its own hands.
Remember that some people in Paris RB have known for years that he was accused of rape, and nothing was done. Who here knew? Why so little communication? What were the consequences?

Hi @RMoore,

Thank you for reporting this news. I previously looked for but could not find news (I could not figure out how to get this information when I searched about the results of the appeal a while ago).

To our knowledge, there has been no real communication from the ELM community, unlike the Paris RB community, which seems to have taken matters into its own hands.

As far as I can tell, most of the communication has been done in this Discourse post (News about the Elm Europe organizer [TW]) from Evan, and some prior messages on Slack (that have since disappeared due to Slack’s message retention). I don’t remember if/how much that has been shared in other places such as social media.

I don’t have an opinion on whether that counts as sufficient communication from the Elm community. If you don’t think it is enough, please let us know what additional communication you would expect to see.

Remember that some people in Paris RB have known for years that he was accused of rape, and nothing was done. Who here knew? Why so little communication? What were the consequences?

I remember last seeing Thibaut at Elm Europe 2019, as well as at an Elm Meetup in Paris at the end of 2019 (which he didn’t organize), and wasn’t aware of accusations or indictments at the time, and only became aware of it in 2021 at the time of the Discourse post. I can’t project my lack of knowledge onto others, so I can only guess that no-one else here in the Elm community about it.

What were the consequences?

The consequences of not knowing about this in 2018-2019 was the organization (or rather, the non-cancellation) of Elm Europe conferences and maybe some Elm meetups (depending on when that baton was passed), and obviously the possibility of incidents during that period. No incidents have been openly reported in the Elm community though, which I’m really hoping means none happened.

After those two events, as far as I can tell, Thibaut has been pretty absent from the Elm community. He had already planned to not organize an additional Elm conference in 2020 (in hindsight, I don’t know whether his accusations/trials were taken into account in his decisions), then COVID happened and news about his trial reached us in 2021.

Seeing as he is currently in prison and for a few more years (until 2027? Is that correct?) and his actions have been condemned by members of our community, I don’t know if there is much that we ought to do about his particular case.

About other Elm events, we’ve unfortunately had few since COVID. We recently had Elm Camp this year, which contained a code of conduct condemning these actions and offering support should incidents like this happen again (Elm Camp), which as far as I’m aware is the appropriate preparation one can do. And if you know about improvements they can implement, please reach out to them, I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear about that.

I don’t know what you should or shouldn’t do.
But in any case, with regard to the first publication on the first conviction, a good part of the comments consisted of debating whether or not he was guilty, the rate of false accusations, and the fact that he had appealed. Which was highly inappropriate when you consider how difficult it is in France for a rape victim to lodge a complaint. Only 2% of complaints reach the assizes… I
f I’d been a victim, it really wouldn’t have made me want to speak out…
I think the fact that he’s been definitively convicted at least means that these kinds of comments no longer have a place (assuming they ever did).
As far as I’m concerned, there’s been no way up until now for potential victims to feel like expressing themselves, and I hope that knowing that he’s been definitively convicted, and that other victims elsewhere have expressed themselves, will at least allow them to feel relieved.

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Possibly he did not find an opportunity to commit such crimes within the Elm community? But that is just a guess. Perhaps overall we are a much looser community spread over the internet and thinly over many countries and not somewhere that a victim feels close enough to that they would see Elm community as a place to seek support?

Which made me think - if this topic is most active in Paris RB - perhaps you could post a link here to wherever it is being discussed there? Just in case someone should want to seek some support from Paris RB.

My friend learned the news on twitter by searching for her name. This tweet:
While doing some research to understand better, we came across the Paris rb press release. But frankly I don’t get the impression from reading it that they’ve handled the situation well. Clearly, from what we understood, they did nothing even though some people knew about it.
Here’s the link to the press release in French: Paris.rb
I think that if there are other victims, it’s best that they get in touch with women on rails.
I’m not criticizing the ELM community at all, although the first post made me uncomfortable about the debate about false accusations / the fact that he appealed etc… I just wanted to keep people informed.
I’ll put up a translation of the Paris rb press release

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"ParisRB began in 2010, and has since been run by Thibaut Assus and myself, Sylvain Abelard.

On October 28, 2022, Thibaut Assus was convicted by the Melun Court of Appeal of rape and sexual assault, with the aggravating circumstance of abuse of the authority conferred by his position. [cf AVFT tweet].

These crimes are unacceptable: I strongly condemn them. I apologize for the way this situation has been handled, and I suggest we look at how we can do better, together, in the future.

WomenOnRails have published a press release which I unconditionally support and which I recommend you read: ✋ Newsletter #38: Me Too - Newsletter Women On Rails. In it, you’ll find a list of associations that can help you if you’re a victim or have been a victim of sexist and sexual violence in the workplace, as well as resources for training on the subject.

ParisRB has always been a community of developers, of which Thibaut and I were the driving force. We had set up a Code of Conduct to ensure safe events for everyone present. From the moment that its moral foundations were not respected by Thibaut Assus, who carried its message, it was an empty shell. Moreover, the absence of a formal structure in Paris.rb’s own name led to a questionable management of the situation.

First of all, Thibaut Assus was not removed from the organization as soon as he was indicted. This has had an impact on the victim’s personal and professional life. This could discourage new victims from denouncing an aggressor (whatever his status in the community) or from participating in the community at all. It could lead abusers to believe that they can act with impunity. This is catastrophic, and not what we want for our community. The presumption of innocence does not preclude the precautionary principle.

Then, after the first conviction of which we had been informed by a member of the community at the end of December 2020, I wished to be accompanied for the continuation of Paris.rb. Discussions with volunteers were unsuccessful. Thibaut Assus, after lodging an appeal, was released and resumed contact with various members of the community as part of his activities as a recruiter, and we know that he sought to discredit the victim’s word. This is unacceptable.

ParisRB cannot continue in its present form: we need to learn from past mistakes and start afresh. We’re considering a structure that would guarantee collegial decision-making (and in particular the ability to dismiss an organizer), and maintain continuity in terms of communication: sites, accounts, access…

So that each and every one of us can participate in our community, feeling safe and secure, or able to ask for help, and be believed, accompanied and supported when this is not the case.

As we know, legal action by victims of sexual violence is rare, risky for the victims and rarely successful. So we need to provide them with a framework that protects them first and foremost, and keeps out the accused aggressors.

To continue to live and grow, ParisRB needs people willing to get involved in setting up an association, recovering or (re)creating communication tools. You can join already active members (Sonia Prévost, Rémi Mercier, Claire Maffei, Juliette Audema…) on Slack: Slack

Thank you.

Edit of December 20, 2022: To date we know of at least one other woman who was a victim of gender-based violence by Thibaut Assus within the Paris.rb community in 2018 while he was already under investigation for rape. We hope that if there are other victims, they will now feel safe enough to finally talk about it. We assure them of our support and confidentiality should they wish to approach the organization."

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