UPDATE: Frenchman convicted in home country for sex crimes committed in Bemidji
BELTRAMI COUNTY -- After fleeing the country and refusing to cooperate with U.S. investigators, a man from France who sexually assaulted two boys at Concordia Language Villages in 2010 has been convicted and sentenced for his crime in his home country.
Adrien Massy, 32, of Angers, France, was sentenced to 12 years in a French prison for sexually assaulting two boys, ages 10 and 11, in Bemidji.
Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp was informed Thursday by Honorary French Consul Alain Frecon that Massy was sentenced on March 14 in France.
“That he was convicted of our charges in France is pretty significant and rare,” Hodapp said. “It indicates good cooperation not only of the law enforcement and investigative authorities in Minnesota and the federal government in the United States, but also with the French government.”
Massy was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to a release from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to Massy’s prison sentence, he has been placed on 10 years probation with sex offender treatment upon release. Massy faces three additional years in prison if he fails to comply. Massy received a lifetime ban of contact with minors and must register on the French national registry of sex offenders/pedophiles.
According to the release, Frecon said Massy confessed to additional rapes of children in France. When Massy was sentenced, the French judge stated he was not about to let an incident like this “taint the good Franco-American relationship we have enjoyed for generations,” the release said.
Massy was a foreign exchange teacher through the Amity Institute of San Diego and employed at the French Academy of Minnesota in St. Louis Park at the time he assaulted the boys, who were from the Twin Cities. He was in the Bemidji area between May 22 and May 27, 2010, staying at Concordia Language Villages with the boys during a field trip from the French Academy of Minnesota when the sexual assaults occurred.
“Kids are safe at Concordia. We talked about that a lot four years ago,” Hodapp said. “This was anomalous behavior and it wasn’t an employee of Concordia. It was an employee of an outside agency that did this while they were here on a field trip.”
Concordia Language Villages hosts approximately 4,000 individual children during summer camp along with school trips during the school year, Carl-Martin Nelson, director of marketing and communications, said. During school trips, it is common for parents and teachers to chaperone children.
“This was a chaperone that was brought by the French Academy,” Nelson said. “He was never employed by the language villages.”
Nelson added that schools are now required to screen more rigorously before bringing chaperones and teachers to the camp. He emphasized the safety of children is important at the villages and all staff is vetted and screened assiduously.
Massy was a French teacher hired through the Amity program out of San Diego, which secured his position in St. Louis Park, Nelson said.
“The Amity program is a well-respected program,” Nelson said. “A lot of great folks have come to the U.S. to teach their languages as Amity aids. It’s a shame that this person is casting a shadow on that, as well.”
Veronique Liebmann, director of the French Academy of Minnesota, traveled to France for Massy’s trial and provided a statement as an impacted party. In an email response to the Pioneer, Liebmann said it is with mixed emotion that the academy has learned of Massy’s conviction.
“I am, however, very pleased that the legal system has provided a penalty for Mr. Massy,” Liebmann said.
Liebmann said the academy is committed to ensuring a safe learning environment and appreciates the support of families while the academy works with them to ensure they are comfortable entrusting children to the academy’s care.
In 2010, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s office initiated an investigation into the sexual assaults. On June 9, the sheriff’s office learned of the assault on the 10-year-old, which occurred June 7. Beltrami County Sheriff’s investigator Danelle Haugen worked with St. Louis Park Police officers and Edina Police Det. Mike Lutz on the investigation of assaults Massy committed in Beltrami County and the metro area. The two boys assaulted at Concordia were residents of Twin Cities suburbs and students at the French Academy, according to the release.
Hodapp said Massy was fired from his teaching job, his visa was revoked and he fled to France. Once the investigation was complete, reports were submitted to U.S. attorney’s office, which tried to have Massy arrested and extradited back to the U.S. to stand trial.
French authorities located Massy two years ago and took him into custody on an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant, according the the sheriff’s office. Rather than extradite Massy, the French court sentenced him to 12 years in a French prison for a U.S. crime, which is not a common occurrence, Hodapp said.
Frecon informed the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office that French law allows for the prosecution of the defendant without cross-examining the victims because it is written in such a way to protect minor victims from exposure, according to the release.
Massy was tried in court in Angers, France, based on the investigation and reports provided by Beltrami County and Edina authorities, along with testimony from the victims’ parents.
“After learning that the French authorities were not going to allow us to extradite Massy back to the United States, I don’t think any of us has very high expectations that much would occur,” Hodapp said. “To hear an outcome like this is really impressive.”