in the judge’s office, in Lyon, a specialized dog to assist victims

Faced with an extraordinary case of an alleged serial rapist, dating back over a period of more than thirty years, the Lyon justice system decided to set up an unprecedented system to help victims, while pushing the limits of criminal prescription. From Wednesday, June 22, fourteen of the thirty-three victims of this case are heard in turn in the office of the investigating judge Nicolas Chareyre, in the presence of a legal assistance dog. The purpose of the presence of the animal is to reassure, appease and promote dialogue with the magistrate, according to a process that is still experimental. The series of hearings, conducted over three days, should make it possible to assess the interest of this canine assistance in the legal procedure, with a view to generalizing it in France.

The presence of a victim assistance dog began in the United States, where two hundred and fifty specially trained dogs are currently used in legal services. The idea arrived in France, in 2019, when an officer of the canine center of the gendarmerie of Grammat, in the Lot, informed the public prosecutor of Cahors of this process in progress in the United States and Canada. Immediately convinced, Frédéric Almendros then went to Seattle, discovered all the interest of the method and decided to launch an experiment in Cahors, by mobilizing the associations France Victimes 46 and Handi’Chiens, firefighters and patrons, to recruit , former and host a dog, all for a budget of 27,000 euros.

In 2021, twenty-eight people aged 3 to 90 benefited from the presence of Lol, the first legal assistance dog trained in France, to “very impressive results”according to Mustapha Yassfy, president of France victims 46. “The animal can be solicited at all stages of the procedure, before investigators, judges, even in hearings. Children have managed to overcome their blockage thanks to the presence of the dog, simply by stroking it. The dog captures stress, it returns a feeling of serenity. After some very painful auditions, we organize rest periods for him, and even osteopathy treatments to preserve him.”, explains the lawyer. In Lyon, the general prosecutor Fabienne Klein-Donati promotes this innovative method with the magistrates, and the judge Nicolas Chareyre seizes it, anxious to bring the greatest attention to the victims, in a particularly delicate instruction.

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