Bart de Pauw’s trial began on Wednesday, October 13. At least nine women have filed civil lawsuits against the TV producer for electronic harassment. But weren’t there more women? Will you see famous actresses? Why did he come to suit now? And when is the judgment expected? Court journalist Faroek Özgünes answers all questions in the VTM News Special on the De Pauw case: watch it above.
How did you start?
“After almost four years, the process can almost begin. Two days have been set aside for this,” Faruk told VTM Nieuws. “And then we will hear what both sides have to say.” In November 2017, the ball began to roll after a video message recorded by Bart De Pauw. De Pauw was fired by the VRT after several women accused him of infringing behaviour. Former VRT CEO Paul Lembrechts said afterwards that it was about “hundreds of text messages, which were not only flirting but often also contained sexual and pornographic content”.
Di Pauw said a day after his video message that he was not aware of any damage. In response to the statements in the media, the Mechelen attorney general has launched a judicial investigation and is conducting a research into the VRT. This eventually leads to a criminal court trial for stalking and electronic harassment of thirteen women.
The preliminary hearing was held in January of this year and it was announced that four of the thirteen women had introduced themselves: Liz Ferrin, Ella John Henard, Mike Kavmayer, and Lisa Nairt. Attorney Christine Moussi defends them. Di Bao replied at that time: “Everything about me has been published for three years.” “I’m glad the process can finally begin, because now I can tell my story.” The process will now actually start on Wednesday, October 13th.
Was there a conversation between VRT and De Pauw?
At the time of the MeToo scandal in Hollywood, VRT distributed a press release stating that women who had experienced the infringing behavior could report themselves. Two Flemish actresses, Mike Kavmayer and Lysa Naert, responded to that message. A prevention counselor was contacted who confirmed They can tell their story anonymously.”
A report was prepared, which reached the Lembrechts. He called De Pauw and his wife on November 2. There he coldly gave a letter to end the cooperation. Five days later, there was another conversation in which De Pauw and his wife had already received some further explanation. It is about the letters that were sent, But VRT didn’t want to go back to it. De Pauw chose the next flight and himself distributed a video explaining his point.”
What came out of the search for De Pauw?
“While researching the VRT, the notorious circumstance was taken by the statements of actresses Mike Kavmayer and Lisa Nairt. Several victims later came forward. They are said to have been recruited at De Pauw’s camp.”
After investigation, the Council Chamber decided to refer the matter to the court. There were three classes of women at that time. The Public Prosecutor found that there was no basis for prosecuting some of them. Then there are three other women about whom not enough evidence has been found to stand trial. 13 women remained: 4 chose not to be identified, and 9 registered as civil parties. The testimony of the four will be included in court.”
“Eventually, De Pauw will have to answer two charges (harassment and electronic nuisance). There was a third allegation: sexism. But it didn’t stop there in the end. At a certain point mediation began that could be discussed. In the end, nothing came of it. So “.
What is the significance of the infamous brown envelope?
The closed cover contains raw data from Maaike Cafmeyer and Liesa Naert. A third story has been added. The only person who knows what he’s saying is the investigating judge, who decides to keep it closed due to professional secrecy. The defense tried to figure out what was inside, but they were blunt each time. We may still be figuring out the contents.”
What happens on the first day of the trial?
“The parties have had the opportunity to develop their arguments,” Farouk continues. They know exactly what the other party is going to say and also have the opportunity to respond to it. Di Bao himself will attend. It will depend on the president whether he will be questioned immediately. Civic parties are the first to speak up. They won’t come, but it still looks like ground coffee. It is still possible.”
On Wednesday itself – a very important moment – we also know the progress of the Public Prosecution Service. What punishment is he asking? Thursday will go to the defense of Di Bao. It will then be looked into. In principle, it is a month of waiting, but this may take a little longer. Three more women were added to the victims. We don’t know who he is. We may find out when civic parties are discussed. Notify the lawyers of the other civil parties. But since the investigation has already been closed, they can no longer participate in the process.”
Is there an appeal after the ruling?
It remains to be seen what the outcome will be. If the judgment is not in favor of either side, there is always the option of appeal. The case is then brought to the Court of Appeal in Antwerp. “There’s a very good chance it’s a very sensitive issue,” Farrok says.
Farrouk explains that another lawsuit is pending. De Pauw’s wife claims that De Pauw – of which she serves as co-manager – has suffered too much. The point is, the CEO of VRT unilaterally terminates the agreement with KoekenTroef! Canceled. This was about a lot of money. At one point, No production was allowed to be broadcast. Even things already purchased were not broadcast. They demand compensation of at least 12 million euros. They felt there was not enough ground to stop the cooperation suddenly. The ruling in one case will affect this case.”
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