"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
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."