“Today, I pay the price for my commitment… my commitment to protecting children from abuse,” says Eugénie Izard in a video posted on YouTube. The case is generating controversy in France.
To what extent can a psychiatrist intervene when a child confesses to him or her that they’ve been abused, and is it their right to denounce this? These are some of the questions that are currently being addressed in France, where a doctor was banned from practicing her profession for three months for an incident that took place in 2015, when an underage patient allegedly confessed to her that he’d been abused by her father, who was also a doctor.
Eugénie Izard has been working as a child psychologist in Toulouse, in the south of France, for 16 years. Some time ago, together with her colleagues, she founded the “Network of Professionals for the Protection of Children and Adolescents” (REPPEA), of which she is the president. Today, however, she can neither work nor defend children because she’s been banned from doing so.
“Today I pay the price for my commitment… my commitment to protect children from abuse,” she says in a video posted on YouTube on February 17th. Eugénie is referring to the event that occurred in 2015, when a child confessed to her during a therapy session that she’d been the victim of abuse. She felt she couldn’t stand by and decided to denounce the culprit.
“I didn’t look the other way, even though her father, whom she accused of abuse, was a doctor. Years of pressure and reprisals until this shocking conviction,” said the child psychiatrist, according to the French media Marie Claire.
More than five years have passed since then, but recently the French medical council banned her from practicing as a child psychiatrist from April to June 2021. According to France 3, in the ruling, “the national disciplinary chamber of the order of doctors accuses her of having referred the case to the juvenile judge instead of the public prosecutor and, consequently, of having violated medical confidentiality”.
However, Eugénie defends herself and denies this. In fact, she told France 3, “I wrote to the juvenile judge within the framework of the law authorizing shared confidentiality. By doing so, I followed article 2 of the code of ethics on the rights of vulnerable people”.
However, the same media outlet also states that, taking into account what the law says, the psychiatrist’s argument is questionable because, according to the Haute-Garonne medical council’s website, “the complaint can be made (…) to the public prosecutor’s office or to the juvenile court judge“. Who’s right in this situation?
The psychiatrist reported the crime of incest, which her patient allegedly confessed to her. To this day, she continues to fight for a reversal of her conviction and continues to believe that “there’s clearly a reversal of guilt. I denounced the abuse, and I am the one being prosecuted. I will fight for this injustice to be recognized. These criminal cases happen often. Incest is a crime, even if in this case it wasn’t. But we have to be able to be safe when it comes to these kinds of cases,” she told France 3, adding, “I can’t be afraid every time I file a report. We have to be able to benefit from immunity in these cases.”