‘The Outreau Case: A French Nightmare’ Recap & Ending: What Happened To Jonathan Delay?

There is inarguably no bigger sin than pedophilia, if we’re talking about mankind. People do have many fetishes, and there’s nothing wrong with having them as long as a child is not subjected to any of them. That’s the primary and only rule. Naturally, when eighteen adults were accused of physically abusing as many as seventeen young children in the La Tour du Renard neighborhood of Outreau, Northern France, it was bound to become a headline and, most importantly, shock the entire nation. And to think that it actually started with a seemingly normal but incestuous family where the children were raped by their own parents is absolutely horrific! Netflix’s The Outreau Case: A French Nightmare, a four-part French docuseries, delves into the details of that whole thing.

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But the Outreau case was never a simple thing like pedophiles being put behind bars (as they should be) for committing heinous crimes and that’s about it! What started as a very necessary investigation into the accusations that were made by the children eventually turned into a huge legal debacle. Lies were told under oath, many misjudgments were made, lots of allegations were thrown around, and worst of all, so many innocent lives were ruined. This is one diabolical case where an examining magistrate needed to appear in front of the jury and the attorney general of a country had to do a press conference live from the courtroom! 

The Netflix docuseries is a deft examination of the whole thing, from start to finish. Director Oron Ador has been cautious enough to not sensationalize the matter, which is a praiseworthy thing as many documentary filmmakers have the tendency to do that, resulting in the whole thing turning into a sordid mess (case in point: The Indrani Mukerjea Story, also a Netflix production). However, true crime is the genre where Netflix excels the most, and The Outreau Case: A French Nightmare is a profound example of that. It’s a gripping, uncomfortable watch that makes you think about many things. Let us take a closer look at it.

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How Did It All Start?

A five-year-old uttering the words “adult film” when he’s asked if he wants to see a cartoon or something is never a normal thing. But that’s exactly what little Jonathan Delay did, which made his foster family do the very obvious thing: contact the authorities. Jonathan’s father, Thierry, had a skull collection and was prosecuted before for desecration of the skulls. Jonathan, now 27, appears in the documentary series, and he has no qualms about admitting that his father was a sick, monstrous man who used to hurt him and his brothers when they were kids. The mother, Myriam Badaoui, was no different either, as she also used to participate in vicious activities with her husband. Myriam did call the social service, though, which eventually took away the Delay children and put them in foster families. Jonathan acknowledges it as the only good thing his terrible mother ever did for them. The Delay couple were not the only ones who hurt the kids. Myriam not only confirmed what Jonathan and the other kids were saying was true; she also named various other people who would come to their house and do unspeakable things to the kids—along with her and Thierry. David Delplanque and Aurelie Grenon, a couple who used to live in the same La Tour du Renard neighborhood, and another couple, Sandrine and Frank Lavier, along with Thierry Dausque, were the first names that were dropped by Myriam. 


What Was Found In The Investigation?

March 6, 2001, should be considered the red-letter day for the whole Outreau affair, as that was the day examining magistrate Fabrice Bourgaud ordered the arrest of several people. According to Bourgaud, he did that based on what the children said and also after consulting psychological expert Marie-Christine Gryson. Bourgaud and Gryson both appear in the docuseries, sharing their accounts of the events. The examining magistrate, especially, played a huge role in the entire Outreau affair. Fabien Roy-Nansion, the lawyer for David Delplanque, also appears, which only adds credibility to the documentary. Through Fabien’s own narration, we get to know how shocked she was when David confessed to all the allegations made against him after initially denying them. Aurelie confessed before her partner, agreeing to what Myriam said to a tee. According to David, he and Aurelie had no plans to be part of something that terrible, but somehow, they got carried away in an intoxicated state.

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More names started coming out: Francois Mourmand, who was the godfather of one of the Delay children; Roselyn Goddard, who used to be known as “The Baker” thanks to her profession; her husband Christian; the Delay’s neighbor David and Karine, all of whom were accused and investigated. 

One of the most significant things about the Netflix docuseries has to be the huge number of people who were actually involved in the case, in any capacity, appearing in front of the camera. Journalists Anne-Laure Barrett and Laurent Renault both worked extremely hard when it came to breaking the news to the public, and we got to know about a lot of things from these two. 

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By June 2001, more names started to come out—this time of people, most of whom didn’t even live in La Tour du Renard. And these people were much different from the people of the working-class neighborhood of Renard Block. Court bailiff Alain Marecaux and his wife Odile, taxi driver Pierre Martel, laborer Daniel Legrand Sr., and his son Daniel Legrand Jr., all people from outside the neighborhood, were the ones who were now suspects. Renowned priest Dominique Wiel, from the same Blackbird apartment where the Delays lived, also came under investigation. Fabien was shocked again to find out about the court bailiff, especially as she knew him thanks to them having worked together. Alain and Odile were an upstanding couple with a great house and good jobs. Ideally, they were not the kind of people who would hang out with people from Renard Block, if we go by social structure, but here they were. Their social stature allowed them to hire top lawyers like Frank Berton and Hubert Delaque, both very well-known and highly respected advocates, as told to us by Fabien. Hubert and Frank also make appearances in the documentary and keep telling how they never had any doubts about the innocence of their respective clients, Alain and Odile. All the accused, other than the Delay couple, David and Aurelie, vehemently kept denying all the accusations against them. Alain and Odile said they didn’t even know Thierry and Myriam, let alone commit such awful things with them. But Bourgard had enough evidence to put all of them in jail. Things got messier when more child victims were discovered—and psychologist Gryson had no reason to not believe any of them. She felt a child couldn’t tell things in such vivid detail if they hadn’t experienced it. Despite Alain and Odile denying the accusations, they fell further into the mud when their own son accused Alain of molesting him.


Was There A Murder?

The Outreau affair took another significant turn when Legrand Jr. not only confessed to everything, including everyone else’s participation in tormenting the kids for fun, but he also mentioned the murder of a little Belgian girl aged 9–10. The neighboring country had already become a part of the whole thing when Myrium wrote letters to magistrate Bourguard, where she extensively talked about taking the kids to some Belgian farms to shoot adult films, which Legrand Jr. and his father used to sell. To follow up on Myrium’s claims, Jonathan and the other kids were even taken to Belgium to see if they could recognize the farms. Jonathan did confirm everything his mother said, although he failed to spot the particular farm. Apparently, the animals on the farms were also violated by the monsters, who didn’t hesitate to make the children copulate with the animals.

Jonathan also backed Legrand Jr.’s claim that the predators assaulted and beat the Belgian girl to death, which happened in the Blackbird apartment. Thierry made Jonathan help him bury the body nearby. But even after digging up a whole lot of the ground where the body could possibly be buried, nothing was found after all. Jonathan Delay, however, still holds on to whatever he said back then. In the documentary, he says the murder did happen, and his memories are not fabricated.

Things got into reverse gear when Legrand Jr. started claiming that whatever he said about the murder, as well as his confession, was all a lie. Apparently, all that he did was an attempt to fish out the real truth by trapping Myriam, but sadly, he fell into his own trap. After all that happened, this was something that was very hard to believe for anybody. The Outreau case was going to trial, where all the accused and the victims were supposed to testify, through which the judge and the jury would reach a verdict.

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What Happened At The Trial?

From May to July of 2004, the trial for the infamous Outreau case took place in Saint-Omer. By this time, Francois Mourmand had killed himself, Alain Marecaux had made several suicide attempts, and Magistrate Bouguard was highly criticized by the defense lawyers for believing everything Myriam said and reaching a conclusion according to only that. Very interestingly, Aurelie, despite confessing to all the crimes, was out on bail while people who didn’t confess were inside.

Through the documentary, several people speak about Myriam Badaoui’s intimidating presence during the investigation and the trial. Another man who had a towering presence over the trial, both physique-wise and impact-wise, was Roselyn Goddard’s lawyer, Eric Doupond-Moretti. The man happens to be the present French Minister of Justice, by the way, and his celebrity status as a lawyer was unquestionable back in the time of the Outreau trial.

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The trial was going in a rather predictable way: Myriam was sticking to her statement while Aurelie and David were supporting her. Interestingly, Thierry said he blacked out during many things, and a lot of it had slipped from his memory. Although when he was asked if he had raped his own children, his answers were affirmative. All the other accused, including Legrand Jr., continued to plead not guilty as the defense lawyers—Hubert, Frank, Doupond-Moretti, and the rest—tried to prove that the children’s words couldn’t be taken as gospels of truth.

However, the big turnaround came when Hubert started grilling one of the Delay kids, which frustrated Myriam, and all of a sudden, she decided to change her statement. In this new version of her statement, everyone other than Thierry, David, and Aurelie was not guilty. She said she didn’t know Odile and Alain; the priest was actually nice to them, and nobody really harmed her kids—other than themselves and the other couple. Following this statement, everyone who was rotting in jail got released on bail, but the trial was not finished yet. Magistrate Bouguard was called upon, who kept maintaining that whatever he did was based on the evidence only, and he seemed to have no regret.

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What Was The Verdict?

The verdict of the trial was as shocking as Myriam’s sudden change in statement. Among the seventeen accused, seven were fully acquitted, and the remaining ten were put behind bars. The lucky seven were Odile, David, Karin, Roselyn, Christian, Pierre Martel, and Legrand Sr. Despite Myriam saying nobody other than the four of them was guilty, the juries thought otherwise. The verdict was expected to be met with a lot of criticism. 

Six of the ten accused, Legrand Jr., Alain Marecaux, Sandrine, Frank Lavier, Thierry Dausque, and father Dominique Weil, requested an appeal trial that took place in a closed-door court in Paris in November 2005. Like the previous trial, this one also turned into a huge deal, at the end of which all six of the appellants got acquitted. The judge of the appeal trial, Odile Mondineu-Hederer, describes how things went down in this trial, where she had to tell the Lavier kid that no evidence of physical abuse was found on her body, despite her claim of three men raping her. 

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The acquittal of the six was not the most sensational thing of the appeal trial; it was the French Attorney General’s sudden appearance in court even before the verdict and a press conference where he went on to apologize for such a huge failure of the justice system.


What Really Happened In The Outreau Case?

I’m sure this is the question that popped up in your head after finishing The Outreau Case: A French Nightmare. This surely has a lot to do with Jonathan Delay himself appearing in the documentary and claiming that none of the acquitted people should be out of prison. If we really have to believe Jonathan, then at least thirteen pedophiles are roaming free out there and even making appearances in Netflix documentaries (if you consider Odile), which is simultaneously horrific and unbelievable!

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The law exists to find the truth and provide justice, and considering no one is above the law, we should believe in the innocence of the thirteen people, and if we do that, then what these people have suffered is unimaginable! If we side with the verdict, that doesn’t denounce the credibility of the children’s statement, as the documentary doesn’t forget to reveal that a lot of testimonies given by the kids were actually influenced by their foster families, all of whom were correlated, and also their caregivers, who kept talking about the Outreau case amongst themselves.

It is beyond doubt that Jonathan and eleven other kids were indeed subjected to barbaric treatment, which pretty much scarred them for life. The law also confirmed that in the official verdict. The French justice system went through a lot of fixes; Judge Bouguard was even called in front of a parliamentary committee, where the entire nation got to hear him give his statement, which sounded a lot like an apology. In the Netflix docuseries, Bouguard seems rather careful about his words. He also talks about a defense mechanism that helped him get through the whole thing. 

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Whether you believe in what Jonathan said or the final verdict, it is totally up to you. Personally, I would side with the law, as I find that the logical thing to do. But we can all agree upon the fact that kids as little as five years of age had to experience something that no kid should ever go through and that only happened because of this sickness of humankind. And we are living in a world where such things can actually happen. What can be more saddening than that?


Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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