PARIS, Sept 1 — French writer Gabriel Matzneff, accused of raping underage women while one of Paris’ most lauded literary figures, faced police questioning Wednesday in an inquiry opened after the publication of an explosive book, judicial sources said.

Matzneff, now 86, had made no secret of his preference for paedophilia before Vanessa Springora, now a leading publisher, described being groomed by him when she was 14 in an expose seen as a watershed in the French #MeToo movement denouncing sexual abuse by men.

The revelations prompted two other women to come forward to say they too were abused by him as teenagers.

Matzneff’s lawyer declined to comment on the questioning that was confirmed by the Paris prosector’s office, which opened its investigation a day after Springora’s book Consent was published in early 2020.

But sources close to the inquiry have told AFP that because of statutes of limitations, it is likely to be closed down without charges, making it unlikely Matzneff will stand trial.

He has over the years spoken at length in TV shows and written about his predilection for teens. In the mid-1970s, he published a notorious essay called “Les Moins de Seize Ans” (“Those less than 16”).

But Springora was the first person to go on the record to describe her experiences with him.

The scandal was one of the turning points in the #MeToo movement in France, after decades of people turning a blind eye to the diarist’s behaviour despite his frankness about his private life.

Soon after Springora’s expose, French publishers began pulling his books from shops, and he was stripped of thousands of euros in state aid for writers as well as a subsidised apartment on the capital’s chic Left Bank. — AFP