De Pauw was already heavily addressed in the media and the civil parties do not ask for a prison sentence, but hope that the television maker realizes that he was wrong and goes into counseling. But because De Pauw does not have any insight into debt, the public prosecutor does not agree with a simple suspension. The court finds the man guilty and must comply with conditions, but no additional punishment is imposed.
The prosecution called the file ‘an atypical file’ and said that is even a euphemism. “The defense has included almost as many documents in its conclusions about newspaper articles than about the file itself. Bart De Pauw is not a monster, not a sexual predator, not Harvey Weinstein. The facts do fit into the sexual sphere, but they are not real sex crimes as we usually see them here. The bourgeois parties also talk about sexism but that is the only point where the prosecution differs from the bourgeois parties. There are insufficient elements to substantiate sexism, so he will not be prosecuted for that.”
Attorney Van Hoogenbemt did not read messages because the intonation he would give them could give a certain interpretation to the messages that may not correspond to how they were intended. “It was always about written messages, which can be experienced as different by each reader.”
He stated that the two crimes of which De Pauw was guilty, according to him, have clearly been proven for him. “The assault requires a serious disturbance of someone’s peace, while the perpetrator knows that he is disturbing the peace. Electronic nuisance is different for everyone, but when messages are unwanted but are still sent continuously, that is also clear. The special set-up wants you to know that those messages cause nuisance, but because of the relationship he had with them – the dominant position as an employer vis-à-vis a young employee – and acting knowingly and willfully also clearly prove that crime.” According to Van Hoogenbemt, there was no effective abuse of power, but Bart De Pauw’s authority over the women gave them that feeling and they feared for the rest of their career. They all talk about a’mindfuck‘ where they couldn’t get out.
The prosecution has no doubts about the credibility of the women’s statements. “There was no conspiracy or group contamination, the problematic nature and the nuisance is very clear. Bullying is not ‘all or nothing’, you can safely have a friendship or professional relationship but ask to respect certain boundaries.”
“Not a monster, but a man with a pathetic side”
When he talked about the sentence and stated that the conclusions of the defense stated that De Pauw has insight into guilt, the civil parties had to laugh out loud. “He is not a monster, but a man with a pathetic side, just like in some of the characters he played. He craves attention from young women. A pathetic person can also cause a lot of nuisance. He has to work on himself.”
The public prosecutor actually wanted to demand a suspension of probation, but due to the lack of insight into guilt, the prosecutor believes that this is not an appropriate punishment. “He has to take responsibility and realize that he should have known better. Because that sense of guilt is not there, I am asking for a sentence of one year with probation postponement and the obligation to follow a course and be guided by a psychiatrist.”
The hearing was adjourned after the prosecution’s request. The case will be continued at 9.30 on Thursday, when the defense lawyers will have their say.