Head of elite French school Sciences Po resigns due to professor incest case

Sciences Po president Frederic Mion (above) has resigned, amid claims he knew about accusations aimed at French professor and political commentator Olivier Duhamel.
Sciences Po president Frederic Mion (above) has resigned, amid claims he knew about accusations aimed at French professor and political commentator Olivier Duhamel.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - The head of Sciences Po, one of France's top universities, resigned in the wake of an alleged incest case involving one of the school's professors, according to a letter seen by Reuters, the latest casualty in a scandal that has shaken the country.

In recent weeks, hundreds of people have taken to social media to tell their stories of incest after the publication of a book accusing French professor and political commentator Olivier Duhamel of abusing his underaged stepson in the 1980s.

Students at Sciences Po have been on the forefront of calls for the resignation of the school's director, Frederic Mion, after allegations he knew about accusations aimed at Duhamel.

In a letter to students and staff, Mion said he had decided to resign after a report from education ministry inspectors pointed to "errors of judgments" by the director.

"The report (...) points to errors in judgment in my handling of the allegations which were communicated to me in 2018, and inconsistencies in the way I communicated about this case after it arose. I understand the resulting turmoil and take full responsibility for it."

Sciences Po was not immediately available for comment.

The book was written by Camille Kouchner, daughter of Bernard Kouchner, a former foreign minister and founder of global medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. Camille Kouchner became Duhamel's stepdaughter after her mother married Duhamel following her divorce from Kouchner.

The gravity of the allegations has caused growing anxiety in France over who knew what and when, while bringing the previously taboo subject into a national spotlight.

The scandal has prompted President Emmanuel Macron to call for legislation on incest to be tightened to better protect children.

Duhamel resigned last month from his post overseeing the Sciences Po university, which is a major training ground for the French elite and counts among its alumni Macron himself and former president Francois Hollande.

"Being the object of personal attacks and wanting to preserve the institutions in which I work, I put an end to my functions," Duhamel said on Twitter on Jan 4.

Neither Duhamel nor his lawyer, contacted by Reuters, have commented on the accusations dating back to the 1980s.